For this month’s Random Recipes challenge Dom has changed things up a little and asked us for “something a little different.” The whole concept of Random Recipes revolves around every participating blogger’s respective collection of recipe books, and whilst there’s no cooking involved this month, the recipe books themselves get to be the stars of the
show post. Dom wants us to take a photo of our cookbook collection, perhaps feature a couple of our favourites, or share the stories behind some of them. I think this is an excellent idea, mostly because I’m rather nosy and I like knowing what the homes of bloggers that I follow regularly look like, so then as I read their posts I can picture them in their environment and better imagine the stories they tell. Is that creepy weird?
You won’t be surprised to read that I’ve enjoyed seeing other bloggers’ entries pop up. Not only because of my general nosiness but because I’m pretty sure this is the first time that I can describe myself as ‘restrained.’ (Anybody who knows me in real life is probably laughing at the idea of me showing restraint.) Whilst I frequently browse the cookbook section in bookshops, there’s such an overwhelming choice that I can usually never decide on just one and end up going home empty-handed. My single shelf of books probably makes me a contender for the smallest collection of cookbooks amongst the Random Recipes participants.
Here are a few of my cookbook statistics:
- 23 cookbooks, 3 recipe folders (plus a tonne of recipes saved on my laptop from blogs, books I’ve borrowed and magazines – I type up or photograph the recipes that interest me rather than write them out) and 3 reference books (one about wine, one about cheese and the Flavour Thesaurus)
- 13 of the cookbooks (that’s 57%) are in French
- 16 of them (70%) were gifts, and 12 of those are in French – clearly my French family and friends know me well and have the right idea
- 25 magazines waiting for me to file away the recipes that interest me… I should probably get onto that.
I’m terribly OCD about alphabetising things (having a librarian as a mum probably had an impact), but cookbooks are my one exception – I organise them by height, because it’s more aesthetically pleasing. And some don’t have named authors, so then it all gets terribly complicated. With only 23, it’s pretty easy to find the one I’m looking for anyway. Incidentally, a word about the rest of my bookshelf – aside from my cookbooks, I left most of my other books (fiction and other non-fiction) in Edinburgh and since books take up a fair bit of space are thus expensive to cart around the world, I’m trying to avoid buying any whilst I’m here (thank goodness for libraries!), hence the dearth of other books. As well as that, a lot of my uni-related books and folders live at my uni desk rather than at home.
I think my favourite book has to be my copy of Larousse des desserts, a (brilliant) gift from my French aunt and uncle and a bible of all things dessert-related. I frequently turn to for tips, techniques or just simply ideas, as well as when I’m unsure about a recipe from another source, and aside from the caramel sauce saga, it has never let me down. If you’re looking for an all-encompassing dessert book that ranges from pastry to cakes to pastries to chocolates to elaborate desserts, and speak French, then I highly recommend this one!
I was given several student cookbooks before I went to uni, and since they were from my mum and my French aunt and uncle (they give the best gifts), they’re all French. I’ve flipped through various British cookbooks aimed at students, but they really don’t measure up – as a general rule, they all seem to be over-simplified and aimed at students who can barely even cook pasta. Books for students who already have some cooking skills and are just looking for cost-effective but tasty and, importantly, healthy meal ideas seem to be pretty few and far between. Student cookbooks in France, however, suit me perfectly. I still regularly refer to these books for meal ideas, as well as simple and straightforward everyday desserts.
I also have to mention my well-thumbed and slightly batter-splattered copy of Mad About Muffins. I’ve tried over half of the recipes from this book, most of them more than once, and I’ve yet to be disappointed. If you’re looking for a dedicated muffin book, this one is definitely worth consideration.
I’d actually really like two comprehensive books about meat, one in French and one in English because the cuts are different between the two countries and so is what you do with them. The same goes for fish. I’m also looking for a good vegetarian cookbook because I struggle to come up with interesting main courses when inviting vegetarians over. Any recommendations are welcome! Since I really enjoyed the TV series and the book seems pretty comprehensive, I’ve requested River Cottage Veg Everyday from the library to give it a test-run, so we’ll see how that goes.
Whilst we’re on the whole behind-the-scenes thing, for those of you who are as nosey as I am, I thought I’d include a photo of my little kitchen here in NZ, complete with totally pointless dishwasher (although I guess it does make a pretty good drying rack). I’ve probably moaned about not having much counter space… I haven’t been exaggerating. At least I have a fair bit of cupboard space, although one of the cupboards is taken up by a microwave, and the rest are full. I might not have that many cookbooks, but I have a hell of a lot of kitchen paraphernalia. I don’t, however, have a proper utensils pot, because I have yet to find one that jumps out at me.
So there you have it, a little sneak peak at my cookbook shelf and kitchen.
Enjoy the rest of your day, wherever you are in the world!