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Cookbook of the Month: News and Guidelines

Good news, hounds! I have heard back from the Chowhound team, and they are willing to let us begin our cookbook review. They are just as excited as we are to see what happens. PLEASE READ THE GUIDELINES IN THIS POST IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO PARTICIPATE.

First of all, it looks like the overall choice for September is Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Several hounds have pointed out that this is a reissue of two earlier cookbooks-- Hazan's The Classic Italian Cookbook and More Classic Italian Cooking. You're free to work from any of these cookbooks, but if you're working from the two earlier ones, please mention that in your recipe review in case there are differences in the recipes.

We're trying to keep the number of threads down so that we don't overwhelm the Home Cooking board. For Marcella's reviews, we're going to follow her grouping of recipes and post five separate threads:
-- Appetizer and Soup Recipe Reviews
-- Pasta and Other Starches Recipe Reviews
-- Meat and Seafood Recipe Reviews
-- Vegetable and Salad Recipe Reviews
-- Dessert and Breads Recipe Reviews

If you have a copy of Essentials, you'll see that these five threads roughly correspond to different sections in the book. Please post your review in the correct thread, so that others may discuss similar dishes with you. I know that the threads will probably be very uneven in length-- many more folks will try pasta recipes than dessert recipes-- but at least this way they will be split up somewhat.

We're also going to start a "General Discussion" thread, where you can make general comments on the book or this process. This is very much a work-in-progress-- and the chowhound mods will be keeping a close eye on things to see how they go. Depending on how things go in the next few weeks, the mods may have changes or other suggestions for the following months.

Finally, The Chowhound Team asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

Happy cooking! And thanks for your patience.

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  1. Wonderful - thanks so much for your hard work. Is the time frame now through September 30th? Really looking forward to this.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MMRuth

      We're going to let the Essentials reviews run at least until September 30th and see how the format (multiple threads, etc.) is holding up. The chowhound team might want to make changes depending on how things go the next two weeks. So stay tuned and voice your opinion on the September 2006 General discussion thread.

    2. I am so geekily excited about this. :) I'm going to try to make a soup tonight!

      1. HURRAH!! I Jumped the gun and made my dinner last night... hee... It turned out wonderful! I can't wait to post about it! :)

        --Dommy!

        1. Dang... I have to wait to get my book, but this is very exciting! Yay... I finally have a cooking club!

          1. Good for the chowhound team! I hope we can go thru mid-Oct. with her book, as I just got it today! Maybe then begin the braising one???

            1. Great - Thanks so much Redwood for all this planning and work! Tonight will be pasta with either the Sardinian Bottarga Sauce or the Smothered Onions Sauce :)

              1. Terrific news. I can't wait to get started, but have to wait for my book to come from the library. Hope it will get here before the end of Sept. Looking forward to reading everyones reports. What a great idea redwood, so glad you not only thought of it but also are taking the time to organize it.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jackie de

                  I'm waiting for mine, too! How fun! I'm a lousy cook, but, maybe this will help me get better. Thanks redwood2bay for getting this ball rolling (or, more chowishly) for getting this pot boiling.

                  ~TDQ

                2. A question - most people are reviewing recipes they have cooked in the past, but I assumed we were reviewing recipes we are cooking this month. Should I also be listing previous recipes I've tried? Thanks!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Rubee

                    I'd been planning on reporting only on recipes that I was trying for the first time - I've gone through my book (which I realized is now in four pieces) and ticked off the ones I've made and noted the ones to try.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      ditto. I thought we would be trying new-to-us recipes and talking about them over this period. Maybe those who have tried and liked recipes in the past can chime in. Hopefully some sort of format will develop where we will get little threadlets on each recipe.

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        Maybe Redwood needs to re-title the threads with his original idea title - "Cookbook of the Month: Chowhounds Cooking Together", so there will be more cooking together. I enjoy past reviews, but it's not anything different from a regular "What's your favorite recipes from..." thread. Maybe a separate section for those? I think that would be great because you could read Hounds' posts on what they like, and it would give you ideas on what to try for that month. Combining both, the threads are already getting unwieldy, which is kind of discouraging.

                        Redwood2bay, what do you think?

                        1. re: Rubee

                          Yep, my post from another thread: "I was initially really excited (and still am in theory) about this project, but I think it's going to way too hard to keep up! I can't keep track of all the threads and read all the posts at this point... it's making me sad! :-("

                  2. I also thought it was recipes we had not made in the past, but I guess reviewing past experiences is just as valid. I would hope that the recipe is cooked this month so the comments are fresh. I like the idea of all of us, all over the world cooking from the same book in the same time frame.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: faijay

                      "I like the idea of all of us, all over the world cooking from the same book in the same time frame."

                      I agree, pretty cool what Chowhounds can do - hopefully more will join in!

                    2. Like someone said, I think chiming in and recommending old recipes (like the meatloaf I recommended) is great, but I'm especially interested in hearing about first-timers, since that's often the true test of a recipe. Unless, of course, you're me, and manage to make it into an utter fiasco! :)

                      1. Hmm... I agree there is some confusion about recipes we've all done before vs. things we are trying now. The chowhound team wanted us to keep the number of threads low so that people who aren't participating could avoid all the discussion.

                        That said, what do you think would work in the future? Maybe a separate thread titled something like: "Favorite Recipes" or "Picks and Pans" for the things we've all made before? Especially since these could be very short comments. Then the main five review threads would be reserved for lengthier, "new" reviews.

                        One of the things that I was *hoping* would happen is that folks would be able to discuss recipes before making them, and then perhaps small groups of people could decide to try the same recipe together. I'm not sure how to set something up for this to happen (other than providing a General Discussion thread). It's the sort of thing I've seen happen spontaneously when someone mentions a food or recipe and people think, "Ah! I'd like to make that!" Any ideas on how we could encourage this?

                        I do feel that what we're trying to do here is not ideally suited to these boards, but we are trying to work on finding solutions. So if you have ideas, especially specific ones on how to do some of these things, please post! I know the Chowhound team is carefully observing all this activity-- they want to make this fun and easy for all of us.

                        And thanks for participating. I thought this would just be a few people. Wow!

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: redwood2bay

                          "That said, what do you think would work in the future? Maybe a separate thread titled something like: "Favorite Recipes" or "Picks and Pans" for the things we've all made before? Especially since these could be very short comments. Then the main five review threads would be reserved for lengthier, "new" reviews."

                          I think this is a good idea - would give people a place to get a sense of what others have cooked and liked.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            I agree with MMRuth on a separate thread for that - it would be great to peruse that section for ideas on what to cook out of the monthly book. But, right now, trying to wade through in search of what people are presently cooking (which is in the minority) is really tedious. I think you'd have to be clear, but I think it's a great idea.

                            Re: encouraging people to cook the same thing together. I think it would also be benefited by the above. If you have a separate area for people posting past reviews, someone may say "that sounds great, I'm going to try it" (like MuppettGrrl's braised meatloaf mention), and then others will say me too, and I think the posters could take it from there. Hmm. In fact, I think I will go post on the appropriate board for the meatloaf this weekend, and see if anyone wants to join me.

                            Anyways, is there anyway to implement that now? I think it will just get harder and harder to follow these threads with people just listing their favorites on the cooking threads. I do agree with Katie Nell, it is a little discouraging.

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              How about "Prior Favorites" to clarify?
                              Since "Favorite Recipes" might be interpreted as a round-up of what everyone recently tried.

                              1. re: MMRuth

                                Starting a couple of new threads for that kind of general discussion sounds like a good idea.

                                Asking for just a few threads to post feedback in was meant to keep this project from completely overwhelming the Home Cooking board - not to keep you all from getting the most out of the project. If a couple of additional threads seem like they're needed, no problem with starting them, no need to ask our permission.

                                1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                  Just reading through the current threads, it seems to me there are so many favorites mixed in with current reviews that I hesitate to begin a new "Prior Favorites" thread now. I worry it would just add to the confusion at this point-- I wouldn't want folks to feel like they need to double post-- but I do think this is something we should add next month. Does that sound reasonable?

                                  I am, however, going to start a thread specifically aimed at discussion of what recipes people are planning to make. Maybe this will help encourage people to try similar things or allow folks to get feedback on recipes they are thinking of.

                              2. re: redwood2bay

                                "I thought this would just be a few people. Wow!"- I know! I'm amazed at the number of people already participating! I feel like I'm getting left in the dust waiting for my books to arrive! :-)

                                One part of the problem is that there is always time delays with this sort of thing... not everyone checks the boards at the same time, or some people will check one day and then not the next, or whatever. I tried to start a troubleshooting ice cream tutorial a while back, but it just never got off the ground. One person would go ahead and make the vanilla ice cream while the other person didn't have their canister in the freezer, and then the second person would make the vanilla ice cream, and the first person would already be on to the next flavor. I don't know what the solution is, but I'm sure it will work itself out in the long run with the amount of people interested.

                              3. In case anyone else is as dense as I was until five minutes ago, when I was "worrying" how I would find these posts quickly if they had not been replied to recently - I used the bookmark function so that they show up on "My Chow" page.