HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Cookbook of the Month: Chowhounds cooking together? What do you think?


I've noticed that many of us seem to cook from the same bunch of cookbooks... Marcella Hazan, Julia Child, etc. Although I have a shelf full of cookbooks, I must admit that from many of those cookbooks, I've only made a few recipes. Sometimes it's hard for me to figure out what to make, especially if a recipe seems time-consuming. I love getting pointers from other hounds on recipes they liked in a particular book.

Then I thought, wouldn't it be great if I had a bunch of friends who cooked, and we could take turns trying out new recipes and sharing them?

So here's my idea-- what do you think about us choosing a "cookbook of the month" and different people trying out different recipes from the same book? We could post our results here, along with reviews and any changes/suggestions we made. Kind of like the comments on epicurious, but all about one book. Or, if you have already cooked extensively from that cookbook, you could just post a review/list of your favorite recipes. I'm suggesting this somewhat selfishly, because I'm hoping this would point out to me some of the great recipes I'm overlooking. We'd end up with cooks' notes on a bunch of recipes.

Of course, no one would have to participate... I'm just wondering if there's any interest in this. And we could choose cookbooks appropriate to the season. I'm sure there are regional differences in availability of ingredients which would affect people's choices.

What do you think? Interested?


  1. Bring it on! I'm def. interested in participating as a cook if I happen to own the book or can check out from library or as an onlooker/cheerleader if I don't have the book or time. I like the idea of focusing on one cookbook per month. Name the book and I'll be there...

    1. Count me in - I think it's a great idea! (BTW - was just going through "Sunday Suppers at Lucques" - there's a nice section on fall recipes).

      1 Reply
      1. re: Rubee

        Me too! I've been waiting for fall because my favorite recipes from that book are all in the fall section.

      2. Sounds like fun, as long as I don't have to add anything to my groaning cookbook shelves.

        1. Sounds great to me! What cookbook? Hope I have it. But, it would be a great excuse to buy another one.

          1. Count me in! Great idea.
            To keep this moving forward, can I suggest Suzanne Goin or All abut braising?
            Even if we cooked the same recipe it would be interesting to hear comments -- we could post which recipe we plan to make, and folks who've made it could give suggestions.

            1 Reply
            1. re: NYchowcook

              Good suggestions - I mentioned Goin's book above, and I also thought about "All About Braising" (made the halibut steak with creamy leeks last week - great as usual).

            2. Sounds like a good idea. redwood2bay, are you organizing this?

              Sarah C

                1. Sounds fun. I'm in. Now we have to probably go to email or pm or if they let us stay on the board. Someone, more compter savy and organization smart will have to figure it out.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: faijay

                    I'd suggest creating one thread per month in the Home Cooking section and keep to that thread. Give it an obvious name to delineate from other threads and then from other months within the concept.

                    We could say 'Cookbook Of The Month - 2006-10' for October 2006. Prepare for the next month by starting the thread with the discussion and decision on the next month's book a couple of weeks early and go from there. There needn't necessarily be a time limit but obviously the group will move onto to the next month/thread after the end of the month.

                    Using the format of <yyyy-mm> (e.g. '2006-10' as opposed to 'Oct 06') would keep it easy for search purposes as it would align alphabetically in search results.

                    Just my $0.02...

                    1. re: kevine

                      For the record, I really hope that we DO NOT include reports in one long thread. Now that this thread has 50+ replies, I'm finding it cumbersome and wanting to avoid it. One thread for all reports and replies over the course of a month would get ridiculous...

                      I'd rather just have one common title like "COM" and people can add their own subtitles that relate to the specific recipe.

                      I think there are pros and cons to having another board. I wouldn't mind keeping this on Home Cooking since I'm finding CH too fragmented these days.

                      1. re: Carb Lover

                        I agree - and by the time we get to the fourth/fifth level of posts, they start "disappearing".

                        1. re: Carb Lover

                          I don't know what the answer is, but it would be nice if the reports weren't all scattered about on the Home Cooking board either. I went away from CH for 11 days on vacation, and I feel like I can't catch up at all, esp. on Home Cooking!

                    2. I would love to join as well, especially if it's "All About Braising." I made the sausages with plums braised in red wine last weekend, during a rainy Saturday in NY, and it was a perfect.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: AppleSister

                        I also think this would be a fun idea and would give me the impetus to actually COOK something from my myriad of cookbooks...(I was just looking through my "All About Braising") Your dish sounds great!

                      2. What a fun idea! I could learn alot!

                        1. love the idea, although I'd suggest using titles that have stood the test of time as well as newer titles. That way newer cooks can get the benefit of knowing about cookbooks they might not otherwise be exposed to.

                          i.e.: I'm tremendous fan of Anna Thomas' vegetarian cookbooks which were groundbreakers in their first printings in the 70's. I never hear them mentioned here on these boards although she was publishing chowish recipes while most vegetarians were subsisting on brown rice and steamed vegie medleys. (I'm not vegetarian, but these recipes were a revelation to me.)

                          I'm sure other *ahem* older cooks could chime in with some title examples as well.

                          I'd love to participate.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: toodie jane

                            My fave recipe is on page 151 of Anna Thomas' "The New Vegetarian Epicure" 1997 for the Plum and Walnut Galette...definitely not for vegetarians only!

                          2. This is a variation of something that's been going on over on the MouthfulsFood.com site on the Mexico board for about a year. They decided to do Mexican cooking projects for much the same reason, the folks there had every Mexican cookbook known to man but found they didn't cook from them all that frequently. So they set up cooking projects - say canitas, cochinita pibil, pescado veracruzana - and the list members chose the recipe they wanted to prepare be it from a cookbook, family member, or Mexican next door neighbor. The results were posted with commentary and pictures and included where the recipe came from, what the cooking process was like, any changes they made to the original recipe, problems encountered, how the recipe actually turned out, success, failure, somewhere in between. They're on cooking project #10 right now, carne en su jugo.

                            The really great thing is that each cooking project has it's own thread and is "pinned" so that it's visible when you first click on the Mexico link. That way anyone can access any thread at any time; it also has kept each cooking project alive for new people coming onto that site and board.

                            I think the idea of cooking ones way through a cookbook is great. I have Sunday Suppers and haven't made much headway with it even though I think some of the recipes sound like dynamite. Like everyone else, I've got tons of cookbooks and don't always get through them. I've made pretty good progress with the Rick Bayless book - Everyday Mexican -, really good. And have just started working my way through Mario Batali's Molto Italiano, with good luck (love his fresh pasta recipe)

                            Given the format of the new boards here, the only problem I can see is that the cooking project threads have the potential to get lost because of the sheer volume of posts being made. It would certainly facilitate the idea if there was a specific location or board on which to post cooking project ideas and results.

                            1. I like the idea and would participate. While my personal cookbook selection is a bit small (growing all the time) I do have access to several Libraries with really good cooking sections. This would be a lot of fun.

                              1. Great! It sounds like there is enough interest to at least give it a try. I'm hoping that the chowhound mods will allow us to keep these threads on the boards, since we are still cooking at home.

                                It would be great if we could pin the threads like the Mexican cooking topics on MouthfulsFood.com (thanks DiningDiva for the info!), but I'm not a moderator so I can't do it. We do need to figure out some way to make the threads easily identifiable, though.

                                The best idea I can come up with to that end is to begin all relevant posts with an agreed upon abbreviation for each cookbook: e.g. if we were reviewing "Everyday Mexican" by Bayless (just to pick a random title from someone's post), all the threads would begin with EM: so EM: pork tamales. What do you think? Does anyone have a better idea? Would it be possible to have our own board?

                                Also, personally I'd like to see a mix of cookbooks, including some classics. I think there are always recipes to rediscover in our books (I love Anna Thomas' vegetarian cookbooks, for example, and would gladly spent some time working through more recipes there). I would also hope that if we started with one of the classics, more folks might already have that on their shelves and be able or willing to participate.

                                At the same time, I get excited by new cookbooks like everyone else and would love to have some company working through those. So should we alternate months of classics vs. newer books?

                                I'm going to start a new thread on which book to choose for September. Half the month is gone already, so I think maybe this should be one people already own just to get us started. We've already some great suggestions here, but I think a new topic will help keep it clear.

                                And I'd be willing to try to organize this at the beginning, at any rate. I'm not really a super organizer person, more of an idea person (LOL).... but I'll give it a shot. If anyone feels keen on organizing, hey, let me know!


                                  1. I love this idea I'll be happy to dive in!! :) And for those without a massive cookbook collection, you'd be amazed at what your local library might have on hand! :)


                                    1. This sounds great! I've been thinking about cooking through a cookbook, but this sounds like a lot more fun -- count me in!

                                      1. Great idea, count me in too!

                                        1. One of the reasons I think we should do a "cookbook of the month" rather than a cookbook of the week is to give folks time to hunt down books they may not own at their local libraries. Libraries are a great resource for those of us who already have too many volumes at home!

                                          Also, I'm hoping that any cookbooks we choose will have a range of recipes in terms of simple/complex and fast/time consuming. At this point, I simply can't devote as many hours to cooking as I'd like to (two small kids at home), but I'd love to hear how someone else's 10 hour roast came out, so that I can earmark that great recipe for some day when I do have the time.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: redwood2bay

                                            Cookbook of the month sounds much better than week. Maybe even cookbook of the season. I have lots of cookbooks and would love to be able to use my library system for this project, but sometimes it does take a while to get an ordered book. Great idea about having a diverse range of recipes. There are times when I can devote a day to cooking and other times not. I hope we will be able to work out the details and get this fun project going!

                                          2. So what are we going to start with? For a recently published book I recommend Mangoes and Curry Leaves for an older book maybe something classic like Richard Olney's Simple French Food or Madeline Kamman's When French Women Cook?

                                            This post and another got me to looking at my cookbooks, they are on 2 different floors. The less used are downstairs and I don't stare at them often enough. I have a pretty good idea of what I own but was surprised today by some I had forgotten. That happen to anyone else? You go to the shelf and there is some forgotten gem you have not looked at in ages? One I forgot about is Marion Brown's Pickles and Preserves. I totally spaced out that I owned it and while leafing through was pleased to find a different pear mincemeat recipe that sounds better than the one I usually make from and older Gourmet recipe. This one predates is by decades. I may be getting to that soon. Good pears are going to start coming to market before long.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Candy

                                              I vote for Richard Olney as an oldie and would be happy to buy 'Braising' for a newey to cook from. Praying for winter from the hot heat here in Los Angeles so yesterday I made Caldo Verde from Cooking of Portugal - its great to be able to buy a bag of kale already chopped. Great Sunday lunch.

                                            2. This sounds like a great idea--I, too, have lots of cookbooks that I read but don't necessarily cook from . . . would love an opportunity to make something new and hear what others have made.


                                              1. It sounds like fun. I don't have many nationally popular or famous-chef cookbooks--mine are mostly small-town Southern Junior League-type cookbooks from the 60's and 70's along with some of the old hippie stuff I think toodie jane is referring to--but it would be easy enough to get them.

                                                If this turns into a regular thing, it will probably spin off of Home Cooking into its own board.

                                                1. It's great to see lots of enthusiasm about this new idea on the board. We've asked redwood2bay to email us with some organizational ideas so we can help work out the most effective way for this to happen on the boards - so that it's easy for everyone who is participating to find, and easy for everyone who is not participating to skip.

                                                  This should be lots of fun!

                                                  1. I think a "cooking together" thing would be bogged down by HOURS of debate. Just imagine.

                                                    Perhaps, bring enough computer terminals so everyone can post and debate before cooking!!!


                                                    1. I'd love to participate. I have, perhaps, six cookbooks, though, so I can only play if the cookbook is available at the library.

                                                      I like Cookbook of the Month better than a weekly book. I'd probably just get the week's cookbook and everyone would be on to something else. Then again, a whole month of a cookbook that doesn't appeal would be somewhat of a drag.

                                                      1. count me in, too... are we still trying to do september, or not? what a great idea.

                                                        1. I'd love to join in too... whatever cookbook chosen is fine with me. September's a possibility for me, but in October I will have more time.

                                                          1. I would love an excuse to buy All About Braising, to go with my new Le Creuset :)

                                                            1. I love this idea. September and October are tight for me. But, in anticipation, I've already requested Marcella's book and the braising book from the libary. At the very least, I can watch and drool vicariously.

                                                              Kudos to Redwood2bay for thinking of this fabulous idea.

                                                              1. Fantastic idea! Let's start in October and I vote for All About Braising for the first book - Oct. is such good braising weather - but I'll go with anything.

                                                                1. I like doing a "cookbook" of the month. Do a recipe from the cookbook once or twice a week for a month.

                                                                  Lots of sites have homecooking boards if chowhound won't let us do it here.


                                                                  1. Sign me up...anything by Marcella...Julia...please no Rachel Ray

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: tgsgirl

                                                                      I'll second that. Is there to be a list of banned authors? :-)

                                                                    2. I like this idea. . . . I was just looking in my cookbooks trying to decide what to make tonight. . . .

                                                                      Keep us posted on when and where . . . . Thanks

                                                                      1. we could always start our own message board using a service like bravenet.com

                                                                        1. I'm in if I have/can get the books. How will we decide which book to use each month? And when will it be announced? Will we take nominations and then come up with a list in advance? Also, we need to make sure we don't duplicate efforts...Am I being obsessive? Well, I'm happy to help if you need me.

                                                                          1. I'm in! This is a great idea - thanks for thinking of it.

                                                                            1. If we do All About Braising (AAB) in October, we could go ahead and begin now and extend the month period. Then everyone could just begin when they get the book.

                                                                              I have already cooked about half of the recipes in AAB. It is a great cookbook to start with. I haven't made one bad thing. Count me in this month!

                                                                              1. I'm in. This is a great idea.
                                                                                It would make it worth it to me just to see what cookbooks are floated out there as possibilities...I've only got three or four, and the rest of my recipes are curry-stained handwritten copies or printouts of a coworkers mom's Butter Chicken recipe...or that recipe for biscuits out of the food section in the Denver Post....or the Pecan pie recipe from the lady at the potluck that gave me the recipe 'only because you look like my grandson'.

                                                                                How about two or three times a year doing a month where people use(and post) family or home recipe's that you won't find in any cookbook?


                                                                                1. I'm definitely in on this any month the group wants to do it. I think Becca's right: Let's do All About Braising and call it the october book and just let october start early (even better than when christmas comes early!) Also: Hi everyone. I'm really looking forward to cooking with you all.

                                                                                  1. Great idea, I'm definitely in.
                                                                                    And maybe start with a recipe book with beautiful fall recipes. I'm saladed out and can't wait to make some autumn dishes.

                                                                                    1. Hello, fellow hounds,

                                                                                      I'm in discussion with the chowhound mods right now about how to implement this idea on the boards. So stay tuned! Hopefully we will be able to begin soon.

                                                                                      In the mean time, it's great to see all the excitement.

                                                                                      1. Great idea. And it sounds like a huge amount of fun. Something I think could make it both more fun and more informative would be if we could easily add photos. I'd certainly like to see how the dishes turned out at the very least, and maybe even a step or two along the way. Is there any possibility that while the mods are working on implementation, they could find or suggest a way for us to include photos as well?

                                                                                        1. This sounds wonderful! One request, would it be possible to post the recipe online? Is this possible or would that violated copyright laws? I would love to participate but I don't have an extensive cookbook library and since I am living abroad, I also don't have easy access to a library. Thanks!!

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: mielimato

                                                                                            I think I could email it to you, or paraphrase the recipe on the board, but giving you a word for word would violate the copyright.

                                                                                            1. re: faijay

                                                                                              Hi faijay! Thanks so much for the offer! I do have the Hazan book so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that that one gets picked.

                                                                                              In general, it would be nice to have a paraphrased version posted so that more people can participate.

                                                                                            2. re: mielimato

                                                                                              I am hoping to find something online too. There's no Hazan books at my local library (except for one by her son!), and while I would love to read a Bayless book, I doubt they are at our libraries in Toronto either and we have a lack of Mexican ingredients so I can't see investing in one either.

                                                                                            3. Even though we won't be doing it until october, if then, I picked up All About Braising yesterday. My mouth is already watering just beginning to read her description on why braising works the way it does. I haven't even gotten to the recipes yet, but I can tell this is going to be a warmer winter because of it.

                                                                                              1. We're closing this thread since the cookbook has been chosen- let the cooking begin!