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Choosing Cookbook of Month

So here I am posting on "Site Talk" per request.

First, I admit that I didn't look at the message at the top of the Home Cooking Board about COM re choosing the COM, and so don't know if the link to the suggestion thread is given in that message. If it is, maybe the info could be at the beginning of the post so folks would notice it more. Or in all caps.

I did look over the long suggestion thread and again wonder if it could be lodged at the beginning of the Home Cooking Board as is the choice of COM message. I think it should certainly be replaced every so often, since we could have suggestions from 1957 if we kept it up long enough....well, maybe that's an exaggeration, but you catch my drift.

I'd volunteer to do cookbook of the month, but I think I may be thought of as too thorny for the job. I do, however, certainly have some extra time these days and would be glad to volunteer.

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  1. I’m pleased, oakJoan, that you’ve opened the discussion on the Site Talk forum. Cookbook of the Month has now been operational for more than a year and I do think it’s time for those of us who participate to talk with each other about whether or not it’s working for us.

    First, I see that the thread asking for six months worth of suggestions has now been made a sticky on the Home Cooking page. Thanks, Chowhound Team.

    I’ve just begun to cull some statistics from my tenure and I’ve been surprised at what I’m seeing. Of the eleven people who voted for Vegetable Harvest, only three participated in the actual discussion. I know we’re only halfway through the month, but of the thirteen people who asked for a Julia Child month, only two have participated. Since its initiation, Cookbook of the Month has been a democracy and everyone gets an equal vote. But perhaps that’s not fair. Perhaps those who contribute should have more influence on the choice than those who don’t. And if so, how is that to be arranged?

    I think there may be a sense among some that the organizer finagles the vote for personal preferences. I only wish that were so. So far, at least, not one of my personal favorites has won out. I often wish I were voting rather than counting. As it’s now set up, the organizer has some prerogatives in selecting the choices, but none in determining the outcome. Yet we seem to have reached a point where those who don’t contribute determine the Cookbook of the Month and I don’t think that’s what any of us want. The question is, how do we change it so that all can contribute, all votes are equal, yet those who are most enthusiastic and most likely to add to the discussion have their voices heard?

    I think now, before a new volunteer takes over, would be a good time to work out some of these issues. What do you think? Do you want Cookbook of the Month to continue? What changes would like to see? How can we make it work best for you?

    12 Replies
    1. re: JoanN

      The first question I have is, are people participating - i.e, cooking - but not posting? I think that would be an interesting thing to know, but is perhaps unknowable, unless people post here. It would also be interesting to hear if people choose not to participate because the book they voted for wasn't chosen.

      If I don't think I'm going to participate in a COM, I usually chime in and say so on the voting thread, FWIW. I still have lots of cooking I want to do from Goin's book, and also hope to keep working my way through Julia in November, so I didn't vote for November. I checked, and it looks like I've participated in 6/14 COMs, though I usually continued cooking from those books (other than my nemesis, Vegetable Harvest!) after the month is over, and continue to post about it on the threads. Not sure if I voted on some of those threads or not, though I think I did on some. Sometimes logistics just get in the way of participating for a particular month.

      I have wondered recently if it might make more sense to do a cookbook for two months, rather than one.

      Thanks to all organizers of this - past and present!

      1. re: MMRuth

        I have the best of intentions and then simply run out of time. I have a 2 year old and am chronically short on sleep, so intended projects get dropped. I would really like to focus some effort on COM, however.

        1. re: MMRuth

          I have bought the books that sound interesting and cooked from them, but given a busy work schedule and other commitments, I find that I don't tend to get very far into the book before the month is over. (this is particularly true for the books that tend to be more labor intensive, like Sunday Suppers at Luques).

          I also enjoy reading the posts from people who have cooked from the COM and deciding what I am going to make based on those responses (and, better yet, pictures). So, I tend to be behind the 8-ball for this reason as well, since my recipe choices are more reactive.

          1. re: MMRuth

            I'm new and voted for Julia this month but here in Boston the 80 degree weekends killed my interest - I was going to make her potato gratin and would have posted.
            Same weather pattern threw me off with Vegetable Harvest, which I still have from the library. I did post about the dip I made using chickpeas and the basil pesto from the pantry section and I still have chicken stock in the freezer, which I made following Patricia Wells' recipe but didn't post as we have yet to use it. The peppers I roasted for the soup I was going to make got used up in pasta dishes. Maybe a month isn't long enough or perhaps if a particular recipe was chosen as the recipe of the week, people like me would have less time to sit on the couch and read the cookbook and would have to stop fantasizing and start cooking. I too have limited free time and tend to over shop and under cook as it is.

          2. re: JoanN

            Great discussion thread for the COM.

            Re: People voting but not contributing - I have to admit that's something I noticed too. I especially noticed it with the overwhelming votes for Edna Lewis, yet hardly anyone cooked from it. The same with Vegetable Harvest. I find that if the people who vote aren't even interested in contributing to the COM, it's disappointing, especially so when books I would have loved to delve into were outvoted (for example, Penelope Casas' Foods & Wines of Spain vs Vegetable Harvest; Frank Stitt vs. Lewis).

            1. re: Rubee

              I'm guilty of voting from both Edna Lewis and Vegetable Harvest and not participating, and my issue (and maybe this is true for others?) was library availablility: I thought that there were plenty of Edna Lewis volumes in my library system, and requested one even before I voted, and yet never got my hands on the book, and it was a similar situation with Vegetable Harvest. For Edna I should have just gone out and gotten a used book, but I didn't realize what was going to happen until the month was almost over, but with Vegetable Harvest, since it was new and pricey (and since no one posting about it seemed to love it that much) I didn't end up getting it. That's one of the reasons that I voted for Silver Palate for next month, since I know that I have the book and it will be easier to cook from it.

              1. re: JasmineG

                Thanks for that insight about availability JasmineG, good point!

                1. re: Rubee

                  Maybe it makes sense to vote two months ahead of time, to give people more time to locate the books?

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    In some instances even two months wouldn't be enough. I'm *still* on the waiting list for Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet, which I put on reserve in early January of this year.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      I'm not sure if I'd want that, though, because I find that once the voting is done for a book, I get all excited about it, and want to cook for it THEN, and I feel like I'd forget all about it if we voted that much in advance. But that might help solve the availability issue...I just don't know what the right solution is. I also think that one reason that there hasn't been a lot of cooking so far for Ms. J.C. is because of weather -- I know that East Coasters were talking about how hot it was and how they didn't feel like making fall kinds of foods, so I think that weather may be a culprit.

                    2. re: Rubee

                      If I am serious enough to do COM I want to buy the book rather than borrow it (I'd end up owning it by the time all the late fees piled up) but I have to keep the expenditure w/in reason. If I can't get the book at a discount or used I don't participate in voting. For me cost and availibility are a huge factor in my participation.

                2. re: JoanN

                  I've been a sometime participant of the book of the month -- I think I posted most on Sunday Suppers and Arabesque. Over the months, I've noticed that books that are more innovative or new, or which fit more into people's contemporary methods of cooking, get more participation than some of the more "old school" books -- certainly Arabesque, Sunday Suppers at Lucques and the Zuni Cafe Cookbook were successful, as were the months with Leite's Culinaria and Marcella Hazan.

                  For myself, I've pretty much gotten every book from the library during the months when they were done -- even if I haven't posted that particular month. The Edna Lewis book was intereresting to read, but it did not really fit into how I cook. The barbeque book this summer wasn't really up my alley, and I have to confess to not being a fan of Nigella Lawson. However, even in the months where I don't contribute myself, I *do* read the posts from those who do participate. And simply having the impetus from the monthly selection to check out the book of the month has been fun and educational, even if I don't cook from that particular book.

                  Personally, I'm surprised at how few postings we've gotten on Julia Child. Granted, the month is only half-over, but given the popularity of the Julie/Julia project, I thought more people would give Julia Child a go (especially after the success of the Marcella Hazan month).

                  I think the Book of the Month project is for the most part working, and I hope we keep it going. I too prefer that we keep it to one book per month -- only doing six books per year seems a little limiting, especially if one isn't "into" that particular book.

                  Perhaps we should go back and reflect on the months that inspired more posts than others as guidance for the future? Also, while I understand the rationale for having a "six month" plan for voting, perhaps it would be better to bring back a monthly open book thread before narrowing down the vote to a couple of books for that particular month.

                  Finally, I very much appreciate the efforts of the organizers -- thank you all!

                3. Thanks for volunteering, oakjoan. Why don't you e-mail me at joan1 AT mindspring DOT com and we can talk about it.

                  1. I wonder if you might count votes of anyone who has actually participated in, say, the most recently completed CotM project, or one of the last 3, as double the weight of people who have not? That would allow new people to come in and influence the voting in favour of things they might be interested in, while still allowing the people who are actually participating more of a say. Of course, it significantly increases the difficulty of tallying the votes, since you'd have to go check each voter's participation using site search which would be time consuming. Though, you could require that they do that work themselves, and include a link to at least one participatory post in the previous CotM threads that was made during the month that the project was active, in order to claim their double vote.

                    Please note that this comment is entirely one from me as a hound who has been interested in the CotM project and tempted to vote on several occasions but who has never actually participated, and not any kind of official statement from me in my role as Community Manager.

                    1. Thanks for opening up the discussion, oakjoan. It's extremely interesting to me.

                      I think it may be a combination of things that JoanN, MMRuth and you have stated. Personally, I love the concept of COM. But, as the projects has progressed, I get "bogged" down in previous cookbooks. I know that I am always a couple of weeks behind - sometimes I get the book late, sometimes I'm still cooking from the previous month's book, sometimes I can't let go of an older book.

                      I also suspect that people are reading and cooking from the books and may not be posting about it. I also tend to get behind in my posting and then do a number of posts at once. Personal schedules may also hinder participation in a book at any given time.

                      With the exception of this month, I think that I've cooked at least once thing from each cookbook/author. I thing it's amazing, that out of the year + cookbooks/authors, I've only disliked one book (Vegetable Harvest) and even in that book, I found at least one redeeming recipe (potato salad with spring onions). This project has expanded my cooking repetoire and forced me to try things that I normally wouldn't cook (Mexican).

                      The only reason why I haven't been cooked from a JC book is because I have been too busy to sit down and look through my library book. I'm back to my old habit of looking in the fridge and throwing something together. I miss the structure of planning a meal and hope to get back to it soon. Ok, I may have initially ordered a perceived JC book (Baking with Julia) but realized that it was not a JC book. (I did make these kicka$$ mocha chocolate cookies though...). I suspect once November hits, I'll be posting about JC recipes. I've also greatly enjoyed the posts about her recipes.

                      I personally like MMRuth's suggestion about going through a cookbook every two months. My only hesitation is that I may get complacent (oh, it's two months, I'll play with these other recipes instead and lo and behold, I won't have cooked anything from that book.)

                      Lastly, I like Jacquilynne's suggestion about weights of the votes. I think having voters link to a post from the previous month's books. I do get a bit peeved when posters have extremely vocal criticisms about COM or the process or the selection and then never post about their winning book.

                      Just my half a cents worth of thoughts.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: beetlebug

                        I forgot to mention in my earlier post that participating in this has been eye opening for me, and I've tried so many dishes that I wouldn't have otherwise - especially from HSSS. Also, Goin's book has really changed how I think about cooking, in a good way - I love her use of textures and how she calls for seasoning proteins ahead of time. And, so far, cooking from (and reading) JC's MAFC has taught me a lot about classic French preparations.

                        I tend to get very gung ho at the beginning of the month, and then my interest sometimes tapers off. As with beetlebug, Vegetable Harvest was the only book that I don't think I'll be using much, but the prune/pear compote was a real winner and I've now made it several times - a keeper, and worth having discovered it. I'll have to check out that potato salad!

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          For me - Both Zuni and Sunday Suppers have really changed the way I cook. If anything, both books have forced me to plan ahead to maximize the flavors of the protein. And, it's not as if it's extra labor, it's just salting/herbing the ______ a few days before hand and then cooking it. But, wow, those flavors sure pop. Zuni started this for me, but Sunday Suppers really slammed it home.

                          I also insanely love All About Braising. It's going to be braising season soon and I can't wait.

                          It is so hard to balance using a loved, but not often made recipe to trying something completely new. Of course, there is also the excitement of discoverying or re-discovering a cookbook.

                      2. I'm someone that posted alot on some books, and less on others. I haven't had time the last few months and the book selections weren't on for me, so . . . no worries about that, but I hope if we weight the votes based on participation that we count the whole year. I'd like to encourage people (like me, heh) to come back to the project even if they've been out-voted or away for three months.

                        I hope we keep going with one book per month since that allows for "down" months when you don't like the selection, or are more enamored with a previous month's book. I'm bookmarking alot of the COM threads for future use even when I'm not participating in the discussion or even using that book that month.

                        I've certainly used threads for reference and not logged a "me too" comment. I do check out the months I don't actively participate in, and maybe see something new to explore. If I ever cook from Julia Child, I'll stop over here first!

                        Thanks to everyone who's made COM happen, both organizers and regular contributors!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: pitu

                          "I hope we keep going with one book per month since that allows for "down" months when you don't like the selection, or are more enamored with a previous month's book."

                          Good point.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            I totally agree with pitu's statement about keeping the COM to one month. I find that if I don't like the selection, I get antsy even waiting for one month to pass...two months would be torture....well, maybe I exaggerate a bit, but you catch my drift.

                            1. re: oakjoan

                              I do! I'd be divorced if I'd cooked from Vegetable Harvest for two months, lol.

                        2. It seems as though we agree (1) that Cookbook of the Month should continue and (2) that it should indeed be Cookbook of the Month rather than Cookbook of Every Other Month. (I think that was the consensus; yes?)

                          At least some of you seem to like the idea of beginning each month with a new recommendation thread. I have a number of concerns about that. I recall KatieNell telling me, as I was getting ready to take over as coordinator, that she was always trying to look at multiple suggestion threads at the same time and it was always overwhelming. People were also complaining that they didn’t have enough time to acquire the book if one week was taken up with suggestions and another week taken up with voting and, perhaps, even a third week taken up with a runoff vote in case of a tie. Finally, it nearly doubles the amount of work required by the coordinator. If we’re going to keep this project going, we’re going to need coordinators and I think we need to make the coordinator’s job easier rather than more difficult and time-consuming. I know that asking for six months worth of suggestions at the beginning, although it has not been perfect, has made my tenure (so far, at least) a less time-consuming and more pleasurable experience than I think was true for either redwood2bay or KatieNell.

                          In the interest of simplifying rather than complicating the procedure, let me, hesitantly, toss out a modest proposal. What if instead of a six-month tenure, a coordinator had only a three or four-month tenure, but s/he could choose whatever book s/he wanted each month. It would probably encourage more people to take on the job of coordinator, which would be good. If people didn’t like the book that month they could just ignore it (which is pretty much what is happening anyway). And we’d have some insurance that at least one person was really passionate about the book they’d selected. It might be a way to lead us all to new (or old) interesting cookbooks rather than settling for a common denominator. We could continue to recommend, but the coordinator would decide. I don’t know how we’d choose who the coordinators would be, but we could set such guidelines as requiring that the coordinator had participated in X number of threads over X number of months to ensure it was someone who was enthusiastic about the project. It’s been more than a year now and many of us have begun to get a good sense of the tastes and preferences of those who have contributed regularly even if they have (as have I) dropped out for a few months for whatever reasons.

                          Is this idea too off the wall? Does anyone think it worth considering in one form or another?

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: JoanN

                            a first reaction . . .
                            If the coordinator picked the book instead of vote being taken, it's not so different than any individual starting a thread about a book. I think the collective input and democratic process is important to the project and participation (although I don't have an excel chart to back that up. ha.)
                            I can see how it could work well if one happened to share tastes with the coordinator, but if not drop out for his or her entire tenure . . . which might make one drift off altogether. To be honest, that happened with me when I didn't particularly have an interest in the book chosen at the same time as there was a kerfuffle about coordinator choice and the votes being counted off the suggestion thread. It is sooooo easy to be put off by such things online!

                            I'd rather like to brainstorm on how to get MORE people involved, so this doesn't turn into a smaller and smaller club.

                            One thing I've noticed is that books with a least one super buzzing recipe have done well -- like Zuni and the chicken, or Hazan. There's a small number of enthusiastic posters who've rather naturally managed to create buzz all on their own for various things (who got that chicken thing going?) but that seems to be a different role from volunteering to do the labor of love writing and tabulation required in a collective book project.

                            just my two cents
                            : )

                            1. re: JoanN

                              Hi Everyone. It's good to see this topic being discussed here. I def. fall into the category of onlooker instead of active participant lately, but I certainly hope CotM will continue. Even though it seems like there has been less buzz on book threads the last few months, I follow the posts and marvel at what people are making and generously posting about. There are a few core people who seem to work through each book and post diligently, and I thank you for that!!

                              Personally, I've been so bogged down in work and other projects that my cooking and posting mojo have been stifled, but I know I will get back on track at some point. I know that I was cooking much more from the earlier books and probably tried the most recipes from Arabesque. While I've been checking out the books for the last few months in order to follow along and motivate myself to jump in, the recipes just haven't grabbed me enough. I like Patricia Wells and some of her other books, but I honestly found Vegetable Harvest to be a bore to read through with some questionable proportions and couldn't get inspired. The book felt like it was rushed to print without much artistry or care. MMRuth, I was entertained by your tenacity and husband's eventual disdain for the book. I made one recipe (gazpacho) that I thought was ho-hum so kind of forgot to post.

                              I was going to try a Julia recipe recently, but it takes a certain focus, effort, and planning that I don't have the patience for lately. I know she has some simple recipes but I guess I'm just not in the mood for Julia right now. I checked out a few books from the grilling guys, but didn't open them much because grilling just isn't my thing.

                              Which leads me to some of the organizational logistics that might play into all of this. While I completely understand that the monthly suggestion threads place increased burden on the coordinator, I miss them. It seemed to get people excited about the next book and allow us to get a "here-and-now" pulse on people's current interests. The ongoing suggestion thread just doesn't seem the same...

                              I don't think it would be wise to have the coordinator pick the book each month w/ no voting process. I think that would further limit community participation and ownership and perhaps cause the coordinator to take it personally if few participated. I do think it would be great if the coordinator would help to focus the genre though. For instance, directing folks to suggest a baking book for the month, etc.

                              While it's nice if my book choice "wins", I have an attitude that I want to participate regardless of what gets chosen (as long as my library has it so I don't have to commit to buying). I figure that I can always learn something and there must be a reason why others are interested. I didn't cook much from Edna Lewis/Scott Peacock (I voted for Stitt), but I loved reading the book and seeing how food brought these seemingly different people together. I don't think I would have ever checked it out if it hadn't been for the CotM.

                              Thanks to everyone who has kept this project going...

                              1. re: JoanN

                                I agree w/ Pitu and Carb Lover - I'm not thrilled with the idea of the coordinator picking the book - not because I don't trust her taste, but I like the idea of some consensus. I do think a three month stint is a good idea. I think there are enough of us who have participated so far who might be willing to volunteer - I'll volunteer to do one stint.

                                On the suggestions thread - I think there is a somewhat straightforward way to make it easier for the coordinator to wade through the suggestion thread - create a standardized format for the suggestions thread - all suggestions have to be in a certain format, i.e., cookbook, author, brief description of why the poster recommends it, rather than paragraph format etc. If someone makes a suggestion that doesn't conform, the coordinator can feel free to ignore it. I can see how wading through paragraphs can be a pain.

                                For example:

                                The Way to Cook, Julia Child - [description of why I recommend it]

                                Just my two cents. So happy people are chiming in on this - I'm in favor of giving this a little more time as well, in case others post their thoughts as well.

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  I agree with Pitu, Carb Lover and MMRuth; I don't think having the coordinator pick the book would be as much fun. I think there will always be books that excite some of us more than others, and we're all going to have months that are busier than expected. I had fully planned to play along with the JC month, but a trip abroad, unexpected guests and dealing with an 18 month old have made that just plain undoable so far.

                                  I like that we get to vote, but if my book doesn't win, it doesn't necessarily mean I won't cook from the CoM. But lets face it, if I can't find the book at the library and it isn't one that revs my engine, I'm probably not going to go buy it. The links are always helpful in those situations, but I realize that gathering them is a major task.

                                  I'd just like to add that I know organizing this must be a huge job for whoever is doing it, and that it is very very appreciated. I've really enjoyed finding this "club."

                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                    Just for future reference, I wouldn't mind taking over finding the links for the organizer each month- I enjoy that part of it immensely, for whatever reason! (If that would help take some of the burden off of the organizer...)

                                    1. re: Katie Nell

                                      wow, that's an awesome idea!
                                      maybe there are different parts of The Job that appeal to people (like those of you who are research geniuses and scare up great links, or organize the internal chow links about how to divide book sections)

                                  2. re: MMRuth

                                    I really like the idea of imposing a format such as this on the suggestion thread. It would make the thread far easier for the coordinator to navigate and would obviate the need to search multiple suggestion threads. My only concern is that the threads might get repetitive, but that would be small price to pay for the advantages. In fact, I think I’ll try it out for the December book and see how it works.

                                    Thanks, all, for your thoughts and suggestions. Please keep them coming.

                                2. Being relatively new to both Chowhound and CotM I tend to hang back rather than voice my opinion and comment on the books suggested. Having the CotM project is a wonderful way to broaden one's knowledge of other culinary genres, and I thank the coordinators and organizers for doing this and hope it continues in any format.

                                  This is my third month of cooking "by the book". I had never heard of Edna Lewis so was eager to add her book to my library, and actually did manage to make several of her recipes. Since the book is divided by seasons, I'm sure I'll revisit it in months to come. The Grilling book was already in my library so it was not difficult to find a few recipes to make....I had not opened the book in about 3 years! MAFC is in my library as well and tonight I'm making the roast pork with vegetables. I'll post the results.

                                  So you see....I may not be as vocal as others but really do enjoy having a project like CotM to jog me from my culinary complacency. Thanks again to all who make the endeavor so enjoyable!!

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Gio

                                    Hi Gio - that's good to know. I suspected that there were posters who do cook along but don't necessarily post about it. Look forward to reading about that pork roast!

                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                        I know this is not the place, but I don't want to quit this thread and go to the correct one. Waaay too interesting here.

                                        I just remember, however, a GREAT pork roast in JC's MAFC. I think it's called roast pork poele with mustard cream (p. 380). I haven't made it in years, but it's fabulous.

                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                          Thanks - Gio mentioned that one too - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/45226...

                                          PS - You don't have five browsers/tabs open to CH like I do (grin)?

                                    1. I don't really have much to add- I'm not sure what the answers are. However, I didn't want my silence to be seen as me not caring. I do care and I hope it continues, and I hope it begins to run more smoothly.

                                      For what it's worth, I think it's natural for people not to play on Chowhound as much in the summer, so I think interest should pick up more in these Fall months when the weather starts to get cooler.

                                      13 Replies
                                      1. re: Katie Nell

                                        The other thing about lack of vocal participation on Chowhound is that many many more people are reading along. The posts serve as a rich reference point--when I got Arabesque months after the CotM month, it was great to have everybody's collective experience to draw on. That collective wisdom also has helped me to learn what books people have liked, and what might resonate with my tastes so that I can catch up later.

                                        I've found that I've only ended up participating when I already have the book. My schedule's too busy to coordinate library logistics, and I'm still waiting for the Patricia Wells book from the one time I tried. But even when I'm not posting, I'm still enjoying, and reading along.

                                        While I like Jacquilynne's suggestion of weighting votes, a more straightforward system would be to ask people to vote only if they plan to participate. I've skipped voting when I've known I'm too busy to chime in that month.

                                        1. re: rose water

                                          Yes, I agree that it would be good to stress that people vote only if they have good intentions to participate. I voted for D&D last night only after I checked that my library had it and I requested it. Hmm...I should probably request Silver Palate too just in case that gets chosen. I guess I'm pretty lucky w/ my library; they seem to carry the chosen book 90% of the time and I'm usually the first in line for it! The hassle-free nature def. helps me to participate/follow along.

                                          While weighting votes makes sense, I think it would just overcomplicate the process for everyone...

                                          1. re: Carb Lover

                                            I like that idea too, and think it should be noted in the voting thread that if you vote for the book that 'wins' that month, to contribute to the reports.

                                            1. re: Rubee

                                              I still wonder how many people are cooking along, but not posting .... In my case - if I'm participating, I'm posting, if I'm not participating that month, then of course I don't. I guess it begs the question - is it participating if people cook along - but don't post? I certainly understand that people may not have the time to post, but are still enjoying cooking along.

                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                Hmmm. Good question. I guess I'd view it as participating vs contributing.

                                                I think anyone reading along is in a sense 'participating', even if they don't post.

                                                I think the separate issue is if you vote and thus the book you like is chosen, you should contribute to the reports. I found it disappointing, for example, that the majority vote was for Edna Lewis (I voted for Frank Stitt), and in two out of the four threads I was the lone poster. I think the more reports, the more inspiring cooking from the book becomes!

                                                1. re: Rubee

                                                  I was thinking more about people cooking along rather than reading along. But I agree - it's more fun when one doesn't feel like the lone soul out there - that's why I keep wishing that people would post on here who do cook but don't post - I think we'd have more of a sense of the scope of COM.

                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                    "that's why I keep wishing that people would post on here who do cook but don't post"

                                                    Me too. I think it would definitely up the enthusiasm level on the books every month, and encourage more postings.

                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                      hi. I cook and don't post. Usually because I am a little behind as I can't afford to buy the cookbooks (sigh), can't get to the library reliably, and so I usually just end up trying the recipes to which there are links. And then I don't post because I never take pictures of my food, and being a novice cook, I don't feel like I have anything of interest to contribute. I really enjoy reading everyone else's posts and learn a lot about what I did wrong, or could do better.

                                                      1. re: alex8alot

                                                        No, no, no--please contribute! Though there are a lot of regular Home Cooking posters who take pictures and write out detailed thoughtful posts, it's not at all a prerequisite for posting. Neither is master cooking ability. If a recipe works well for a novice, or doesn't--is it clear and easy to follow, or missing important details? were you successful? did you fail dramatically?--it's valuable info, and we'd love to hear about it.

                                                        Posting in detail and including photos is time intensive, and can be tough to keep up with. It's not at all required. I'd love to hear your two cents even without that.

                                                        1. re: rose water

                                                          I agree completely and lots of people post w/o photos. And, the benefit of not taking photos is that you don't annoy the people who are eating with you by making them wait to eat until you finish taking ten photos of each dish to make sure you get a good one (grin)!

                                                          1. re: rose water

                                                            Thanks Rose Water. I'm someone who does post, but like the previous poster, I sometimes don't feel like I'm really adding a lot, so reading what you've written makes me feel a little better. I just like the idea of being part of the COM thing. Most of my friends aren't big into cooking, and get horribly bored if I talk about how excited I am about a new cookbook, so this is a way for me to keep my friends and still have the fun. And I haven't ever put up a picture of anything I've made.

                                                            1. re: rose water

                                                              well ok then! I will try to build on my husband's verdicts : "uh, I could eat that again"

                                                              1. re: alex8alot

                                                                Alex: Your husband sounds like my sister. She always says:
                                                                "I'll eat that!"

                                            2. I do vote and post when I cook from the selected book. If the selected book is one I have no interest in, like Silver Palate, I skip the month. I seemed to me that when the COM was started that the community had more input to the selection of books to vote on.

                                              I voted for JC but have been so busy with a new job that I come home too exhausted to think much about cooking. At the moment the best thing I can think of to make for dinner are reservations. I probably will probably not get my act together until after the holidays.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Candy

                                                Thanks - and part of this discussion (towards the top) is about opening up the selection threads again. Good luck with the new job!

                                                Edit - I don't think Silver Palate has been selected yet, BTW.

                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                  Yeah, but it looks as if it's pretty far ahead. I'm steeling myself and hoping to overcome prejudices against it. That's probably a good thing. I haven't cooked from the SP OR The New Basics for that matter, for a long time.

                                                  Another thing. I also really liked the suggestion thread each month when loads of people posted and it sometimes got rowdy. I'd certainly love its return, especially if it was ONE thread and not all over the place.

                                                  It would just be too difficult for the moderator to spend hours trolling for suggestions among 5 different threads. Yuck!

                                              2. I just read through this whole thread and have so many thoughts. I hope I can remember everything I want to mention and keep this coherent.

                                                I also try to only vote when I think i can cook from the book that month. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen. I voted for Vegetable Harvest (VH) and immediately put it on my request list at the library. When I voted for it I (somehow) thought it had been released longer ago than it was and so I would easily be able to get. I'm still on the wait list for it and I think there's a chance I'll get it in November. So library availability definitely affects my posting/cooking ability. I mentioned that in the 'suggestions' thread for looking ahead 6 months and I think this point is relevant for others in COM. I simply will not buy cookbooks for all (or even most) of the COM, regardless of their price. I don't have the room to store them.

                                                Like Candy, if the 'winner' is a book that I simply have no interest in cooking from, even if I voted that month, I won't cook from it. Unlike Candy, I don't feel that the process has become less democratic over time. I don't think it's a good idea to go to the coordinator choosing the book each month (even from a list of suggestions).

                                                As somebody else said, I do like having the 'compendium' of data on books. And, when I do manage to cook from a book (even if it is months later), I'll try to post in the appropriate thread. I know I did that both with Arabesque and with the Nigella book.

                                                In the end, it may simply be that the COM has run its course? I'm not sure. I like having it available as a framework for exploring new recipes/books with others. But life often gets in the way. I now have 2 children instead of just one and my FT job. I don't have a lot of time to give to 'spare time' activities. Recently, I've been choosing to pursue other hobbies over spending a lot of time in the kitchen. I don't mean this as a defensive post, more a thought that my experience may be similar to others' (different hobbies drawing people in different directions).

                                                Regardless, of the form this takes in the future, or if it does take a form at all, I know that I'm grateful to JoanN, KatieNell and redwood2bay for all of their hard work. It's clear that it's often been thankless, and I know I've greatly appreciated it.

                                                1. I generally haven't voted, unless an idea comes up for something that fits into how I can cook right now. i have 2 small kids, work full time, and am a full time stay at home mom. That on top of being a health freak (kind of) and having the CSA determine my veggies, I have had a hard time following the recipes in some books. I do post a few, but find that I simply can't follow a recipe : ). I feel bad posting when it really isn't the same recipe. Case in point, I tried the Julia leek and ham gratin that was posted, but I made it much more healthy that I couldn't even say it was a review of Julia's recipe. But that is why I didn't vote last month - I just realized after a couple of months that I love the Cookbook of the Month thread as a lurker, but I simply am "inspired" by cookbooks more than cooking from them.

                                                  1. I have only been able to regularly log on to CH for several months. (Lurked sporadically for 8+ years) Just now starting to catch on to how the cookbook of the month works, so I had not been participating. But the reports of others has been very helpful in choosing new cookbooks, choosing between recipes within the book, and the ideas of how participants changed the recipe is very useful. Just a thought, on many non-cookbook threads I tend to not comment if my point of view has already been expressed well. I guess I feel it will cut down on redundancy...perhaps a similar habit is keeping some people from posting if their recipe has already been reported on? Or are the recipes divied up ahead of time? (Another aspect of this that I haven't quite figured out!)

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: meatn3

                                                      No, no, no. Recipes are not divvied up. Anyone can choose to make any recipe s/he chooses. And although some may hold hold back from posting for fear of being redundant, I think that happens less often with CotM than with other types of threads. It's, for the most part, a very congenial group here and even if two or three people post about the same recipe, a few more are likely to jump in and say yes, that was, or no, that was not, my experience or, here's how I tweaked it. Especially when someone discovers a really super recipe (a certain braised cabbage recipe comes to mind) that had until then been littlle-known, there may be as many as a dozen people preparing and comparing notes on that one recipe.

                                                    2. So here's an idea: say ten people agree every month to post and report back on recipes, and whoever that ten is (make the list public - first ten to sign up, maybe) and then they're the only ones who get to vote, but of course everybody else can jump in too. Then there will be content and social pressure to post (hopefully that will work!), and the next month more and more people will be eligible to vote, based on whether they reported back last month. Voting will only occur if there is a commitment to post on recipes. What do you guys think?

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: enjilico

                                                        While I agree in theory - that if you vote, you should at least be attempting to commit to post on recipes, I don't think it should be limited to just a few people. Maybe something as simple as including in the voting list "please only vote if you plan on joining the fun and cooking along". I guess I'd reallly just like to see more enthusiasm, because I think it's there, but if people cook and don't post, you feel like you're "in the kitchen by yourself'". ; )

                                                        I guess I just assumed that if you vote, and thus sway the choice of the book that month to your choice, it's just commonly understood that you would then contribute (if at least once!). Of course, I know there are certain factors; for example, the availability of a cookbook at the library, a busy work month, circumstances change, etc. My observation lately, however, was there were months where almost half of the people who voted didn't participate in their book choice.

                                                        Otherwise, I think the basic system works. I think the organizers have done a great job going through all the suggestions. I liked the variety - I like that some books were relatively easy like Nigella, and others are more complicated like Arabesque. And I think the choices have been very fair. Ha - I think I suggested Lucques every month since the beginning and we finally got around to it! And books I fell in love with, like Arabesque, I never would have bought if it wasn't chosen one month. It seems the summer months are a bit slower, so maybe it will pick up in the fall. Also, a lot of CH favorites were done in the beginning (Zuni, Hazan, etc), so the later books may appeal to a smaller group of people? But then if you voted on the book, that means you wanted to cook out of it. So, again, I hope there's more participation in the future.

                                                        As a side note, if Silver Palate is chosen for next month, does that include others like Silver Palate Good Times? I was looking through both of them last night, and realize that I had a lot more Good Times recipes tagged that I've always wanted to try....

                                                        1. re: Rubee

                                                          ". . . if Silver Palate is chosen for next month, does that include others like Silver Palate Good Times?"

                                                          No, it really doesn't. But I assure you, Rubee, you won't lose your posting privileges if you go that way.

                                                          Oddly enough, in looking through past recommendations to prepare the list of November choices, quite a few people mentioned the original Silver Palate cookbook, I think I recall one mention of "Silver Palate" as a brand, and a couple of people specifically requested The New Basics. If Good Times was asked for by title, it wasn't more than once or at the most twice. Not only the fact that the original was recommended more often, but that it is the 25th anniversary of that book, made it seem, to me at least, to be the one to put up for consideration.

                                                          I have both, by the way. And both are pretty dogearred. But I doubt I've cooked from either in a couple of decades.

                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                            "Rubee, you won't lose your posting privileges"

                                                            Phew! Thanks : )

                                                            I'll behave. I actually bought the anniversary edition this year since the SP brought back many memories and I lost the original one over the years (hmm with the pics in the new one, I wonder if that changes the pages for recipes). Just happened to be looking at both last night and I wanted to be able to post the stuffing I do every year (which is from Good Times), along with the creamy chicken and jalapeno nachos that I tagged because a CH mentioned it...

                                                            Thanks JoanN. Anyways, looking forward to cooking something out of Julia tomorrow - I think crepes!

                                                      2. I'd just like to say again that I LOVE the CoM idea. I'm fairly new to it (I came in during Arabesque, a book I love and still cook from a lot). Not every month is there a book I want to cook from; not every month do I have lots of time for cooking new, tough things. But it is so much fun, and I would hate to see it die. I actually think the whole process works fairly well. If a book I wasn't voting for wins, and I am not interested, its ok not to cook from it, in my mind (isn't this how everyone feels?). And I genuinely try to do some of the cooking (and post about it) when a book I've voted for has won. As others have said, some books are just going to be more popular, but there will always be a core group who still cook and post. I just want to throw some love at the CoM thing.

                                                        1. Guilty non-poster here. Voted thrice, posted once.
                                                          I love every second of time I spend @ Home Cooking, and come here at least once a day, and have used easily 50+ recipes/tips I've gotten here. In awe of the dedication (and expertise) of the organizers of COM. It's human nature, not your fun/admirable good idea, that is flawed. (Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die.) Could you just continue on as you are doing now, and the "core" would increase and strengthen gradually, and you'd have a fine group of dedicated/interested cooks *and* posters?

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: blue room

                                                            Do you cook though, and not post? That's what some of us are particularly curious about (well, at least Rubee and I are!).

                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                              I have tried recipes from some of the chosen books and have not posted about them, yes. But the cooking was usually done in a month before or after the "official" month, not as part of COM. *I've never cooked specifically for COM and then neglected to post.* Is this what you're wondering about?
                                                              I could post one or two from the past, if that would be ok-- in the appropriate places of course.

                                                          2. I (think) the only time I voted for the winning book and then did not post was Edna's book; I read up on it on Amazon, thought it sounded good, then requested it from the library. But I didn't have it in hand when the voting ended. When I got the book I found that a lot of the recipes just didn't resonate with me; they were either so simple that I was already "doing that" on my own, or they were too high fat or whatever. One recipe I fully intended to try was (I think) corn spoonbread, but then I couldn't find fresh corn that early in the season.... so it goes-- Lately I have not voted as I knew I couldn't commit to voting-

                                                            1. First, I haven't been particularly active on CH at all lately, let alone with COM, but I still want to chime in with my general support for COM.

                                                              I have frequently had good intentions about cooking from the selected book and then lost my drive as the rest of life got hectic and I fell back on my reliable, easy meals. I still enjoy reading others' posts about the COM, though. I have learned new techniques and added new ingredients to my cooking repertoire from both reading and actively participating. I've become a pomegranate molasses junkie since buying Arabesque, and I'm still baking and gaining weight from Baking from My Home to Yours.

                                                              I like having a monthly suggestion thread simply because I think it can serve to get folks excited about the possible books and looking forward to them. I have purchased books mentioned in the monthly suggestion threads that didn't even make it to the monthly vote, simply because supporters' comments spoke to my cooking interests.

                                                              I think the coordinators have done a great job getting input from the community. Joan tried a perfectly sensible switch with the suggestions for six months thread that just didn't seem to work as well as I'm sure she hoped. Perhaps that would have gone over better if it had been a sticky from the start. The only other coordinator suggestion that comes to my mind is perhaps including a note in the voting threads about the importance of participating if you are going to vote. (Remember, your vote may mean we cook from your favored cookbook instead of from someone else's. If you vote and your book is selected, please commit to participating by both cooking and posting next month. If your book is not selected, we still hope you'll consider cooking from the chosen book.)

                                                              Finally, I just hope we can all be positive about this. The COM issue that has put me off the most is the sometimes negative responses to the books chosen for the vote, the theme identified, the volunteer coordinator's general approach, etc...That seems fairly misplaced on a discussion board like CH.

                                                              Thanks Redwood, KatieNell, and JoanN, and those of you who have given me new ideas for cooking by posting on the COM threads.

                                                              1. I am certainly guilty of voting, not cooking from the cookbook, and then avidly reading the posts of others. I have an infant and am living vicariously through others...

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: JudiAU

                                                                  It's funny. I think a lot of us who vote and then don't post are the parents of young children! You're the third or 4th person I've seen mention this, and it's definitely the position I'm in.

                                                                2. I've voted and cooked from the chosen COM a couple of times, but never posted about the process - usually just too hectic and scattered to come-up with thoughtful comments. However, I love reading about others experiences and suggestions - guess I should do more of the same to share that pleasure.

                                                                  1. I enjoy reading about nominated books and why posters like them. Sometimes I go out and buy the book, even if it's not chosen as COtM. For this reason, I liked having the monthly suggestion threads.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                      Great point -- I probably get as much out of the nominating discussion as I do from the actual COM threads.

                                                                    2. I'm one of the guilty ones who voted and even cooked, but haven't posted. Still, I'll be cheeky and say that I think anyone should be allowed to vote. First, if you limit voters to the people who've posted before, then some people who really do intend to participate would never be allowed to vote.

                                                                      Second, I have voted only to have my book lose the vote, in which case I can't participate. I'm not prepared to buy a book just to participate, but the posts about it could conceivably persuade me to buy it.

                                                                      Also, I have cooked and not posted. I always intend to, but then I never feel like I have anything really interesting to say about a recipe from a book, unless it goes either really really well or really badly.

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Kagey

                                                                        I don't think that is cheeky, and I think it is great that there are more posters out there who are cooking along, even though they don't post.

                                                                        1. re: Kagey

                                                                          Good to hear your perspective, Kagey. I hope you will still report back even if it's brief. As others said above, posts can vary and don't have to include elaborate analysis, photos, etc. Sometimes I will miss reading an older thread and then someone's brief comment will revive it and give me a chance to get engaged.

                                                                          The suggestion above was to give previous posters' votes a little more weight than those who've never participated. That way new folks could jump in anytime. It's not something that I would like to see implemented but I just wanted to clarify.

                                                                          1. re: Kagey

                                                                            I hope folks will post threads on what they like/cook from the books that DON'T get picked too -- I know I'm often on the losing side of the vote and I wouldn't run out and get the book either.
                                                                            unless the thread is super compelling, of course.
                                                                            (Dorie Greenspan comes to mind. The thread was very encouraging.)

                                                                          2. As a small voice, that will probably appear completely out of context, I have a comment/suggestion. I follow all of the COM discussions-they are fantastic! I have not participated at all. Is the framework of COM written in stone? Is it about the vote, the cookbook, the participants, trying a new xyz...I'm assuming its all of the above. BUT, if you wouldn't mind a small idea from someone who would participant IF this suggestion could be tried.. and I'm wondering if anyone has had the same thought...here goes. Could COM be about a genre not a specific cookbook? In other words, could we each cook from our favorite southern cookbook and report back on what we made. We'd learn about more than one book, more than one recipe and the pre-req's of buying, borrowing, waiting for the library to call...wouldn't necessarily be at issue.

                                                                            If more participants and respondents is a large part of the fun/experience, I'm thinking book selection needs to be more flexible.


                                                                            14 Replies
                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                              I completely agree. I think it should be more general, for instance I liked the Arabesque threads but I have about 3-4 different Middle Eastern cookbooks. At the time I thought it would be overkill if I bought or borrowed the book. However, some of the recipes mentioned were very similar to those in cookbooks I own but I didn't feel comfortable posting my attempt at the recipe. Additionally, over the summer several great cookbooks were mentioned regarding fruits and vegetables. Perhaps, next summer we could have a summer vegetable month and a summer fruit month.

                                                                              1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                                                                My first reaction is that a single book/author is good for focus.

                                                                                But I have that urge too - similar recipes in other cookbooks. I think it depends on the month -- maybe when it's a close call (like the Southern month) we'd be better off giving over to the theme of Southern Cookbook rather than Ms Edna. On that thread I only had the Peacock/Edna book, and I was somewhat reluctant to post from that.
                                                                                Lesson learned:
                                                                                don't be reluctant to post about anything!
                                                                                I don't think anyone here is going to flame you for comparing a babaganoush recipe from another book with one from Arabesque. It's just not that strict of a setup, right?

                                                                                I think it's great to compare in the thread...actually really useful since so many of us are cookbook junkies.

                                                                                And I'd like to remind everyone that you can always start a thread about a book or a recipe comparison and even tho it's not pinned to the top of the page, it might catch on.

                                                                                1. re: pitu

                                                                                  "I don't think anyone here is going to flame you for comparing a babaganoush recipe from another book with one from Arabesque. It's just not that strict of a setup, right?"

                                                                                  Definitely not, and as a matter of fact when Nigella's Forever Summer was the COM, I and some other people did some comparing (and melding) of her ice cream recipes to the very active thread on The Perfect Scoop. I think that I really like the cookbook specific idea for this project, though, because I think that it encourages people to go deeper into the books and try more recipes than they normally would. I think that that may be one reason why the participation hasn't been as active for the Julia month; it's so easy to get lost amongst all of the choices when we have so much to work with, and I think it's a lot easier to stay focused when it's just one book. Though I would love it if people started threads for cuisines similar to the cookbook of that month and compare and contrast, I think that would be lots of fun.

                                                                                  1. re: pitu

                                                                                    >>My first reaction is that a single book/author is good for focus.<<

                                                                                    I agree with you, Pitu. The project is, after all, the "cookbook" of the month. Keeping it to one cookbook (or on occasion, author), leaves us with a vast array of choices from month to month. I would worry that if we went to topical themes, we'd run out of choices or have to get redundant after a while.

                                                                                    Further, one of the main things I like about the cookbook of the month is that it encourages people to cook from the same book, allowing us to compare and contrast the *same* recipes. Every cook brings something different to a recipe, and it's really fascinating to see how people's results differ. It's also rewarding to find those special recipes that *everyone* concurs are great ones.

                                                                                    I feel that the idea of doing topical themes should be a different project altogether, as I can see the appeal to it as well. I would be opposed to changing the "cookbook of the month" to "theme" of the month, however.

                                                                                    1. re: DanaB

                                                                                      Does cookbook of the month have to mean one cookbook?
                                                                                      I hope not. I own dozens and have no reason to buy a particular cookbook from the COM consensus. But if I own a cookbook with the same recipe, written by a different author, it seems unnecessary to buy a new book.
                                                                                      Listen, whatever COM participants decide is cool; like I said, I've learned alot just by reading the threads.

                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                        >>I own dozens and have no reason to buy a particular cookbook from the COM consensus.<<

                                                                                        HillJ -- may I suggest that you check out your local library -- I, too, have far too many cookbooks, and haven't bought a single book for the COM project. However, I've been able to get just about every book from the library, and it has been really nice to cook from new books without having to buy them.

                                                                                        1. re: DanaB

                                                                                          I agree that the public library is a great resource. I've almost always checked out the chosen cookbook if I don't own it as opposed to buying it. This allows me to participate and test drive the books w/ no commitment to buy.

                                                                                          I too would prefer to keep it focused on one book. In fact, I think having books/recipes by one author (like Julia Child) is too diffuse for my taste. I think it's perfectly fine for people to post about and discuss similar recipes from other sources as it relates to the chosen book's recipe. Those "branches" can be very interesting, but I'd like one book to ground us.

                                                                                      2. re: DanaB

                                                                                        I agree with both of you. I think if we lose focus from a cookbook, it just becomes another thread on the board. Currently, people open threads about cookbooks or genres (Perfect Scoop comes to mind) and they're very active.

                                                                                        It also seems that when the theme become too broad, there is less participation. Of course, some of this may time related but it's fairly noticeable. Right now, with our JC as author, there hasn't been as much participation as when we did Marcella's Essentials book, last year at this same month.

                                                                                        Like DanaB, i love comparing and contrasting the same recipes and finding out what works and what didn't. I'm also amazed how other people's plated dishes look so much nicer than mine. I can't be bothered but I do aspire to reach the same picturesque levels.

                                                                                        With that, I'm opposed to changing it from cookbook to general theme.

                                                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                          Ladies (perhaps gents too) thank you for your time, counter suggestions and thoughts. I'll be reading along with great interest and I hope this discussion will encourage more posting from participants following the one book selection.

                                                                                  2. re: HillJ

                                                                                    I had similar thoughts! Seasonal topics from a variety of cookbooks. I don't always have the budget for new cookbook & the library is iffy. But a call for winter squash (ex.) recipes would be a fun challenge & get all of us looking through our cookbooks with new interest.

                                                                                    1. re: meatn3

                                                                                      I like this idea, but think it could be a whole separate thread. Something like favorite southwestern dishes; spanish recipes i've loved, etc.

                                                                                    2. re: HillJ

                                                                                      One of the things we're hoping to do when we start re-aligning the boards in general is create a 'Collaborative Cooking' board, that could play host to Cookbook of the Month, giving it a little more room to breath (right now, we ask the CotM participants to play in just a few threads per month), as well as hopefully prompting people to start other collaborative cooking projects, whether it's cooking every cornbread recipe on the Internet or diving into ways to cook winter squashes or trying out a new International cuisine each month. The CotM is a fun, unofficial project, and the fact that it exists shouldn't stop anyone else from trying to start other projects, as well.

                                                                                      -- Jacquilynne, Community Manager for Chowhound

                                                                                      1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                        That would be great! The threads do tend to get lost, especially if you haven't been able to check it in a few days... I hate it when life gets in the way of my playing on Chowhound!

                                                                                        1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                          J, what a terrific idea and I'll keep my eyes peeled for future innovations on CH/Collaborative Cooking. Thanks for mentioning it w/in this discussion.

                                                                                      2. If the tweaked idea takes off at all, I'd be happy to follow thru.

                                                                                        I wasn't suggesting a separate thread tho, just a small adjustment to flexiblity within the COM threads because so much has already been established by participants that is wonderful and working.

                                                                                        IF the COM doesn't have to be about one cookbook, but could be for those who haveit/buyit/have a fast library, then more of us could cook along and perhaps more of us would post. If that doesn't appeal, I'll continue reading along and enjoying all of your efforts.

                                                                                        There are so many threads with ongoing energy already, why separate this one?
                                                                                        Thanks so much for your generous points of view; a lot of passion here!

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                                          I certainly have no objection to people posting along about recipes of the same theme, but not the same book.

                                                                                        2. I have loved the project from the beginning even if I couldn't get it together to cook from the selected book that month. The idea seemed to be to allow those who chose to participate to in effect cook collectively, sharing what worked well, etc.

                                                                                          I also think there's value in continuing to add comments on recipes, even after the month ends. I made Sunday Suppers at Lucques' Braised Chicken in the Fall section and had a difficult time finding the topic to add my post.

                                                                                          Perhaps there could be a posting stuck to the top of Home Cooking board that indexes each COM -- such as the main link for each (and then links to particular sections of the book)

                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: NYchowcook

                                                                                            I have that problem too - finding the threads - but this post is useful -


                                                                                            Maybe we could ask the mods to do a sticky for the threads, and to add them as they progress - good idea.

                                                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                              If J's mention of 'Collaborative Cooking' board is launched, it should be easier to locate all related threads. Another reason for this special Board to begin!

                                                                                            2. re: NYchowcook

                                                                                              I think that there's a lot of value in continuing to add comments, and I was shy about doing that at first (I've made lots of stuff from cookbooks after the month was over, often inspired by the threads), but as I've seen other people do that, I've done it too, and it's really useful.

                                                                                              1. re: NYchowcook

                                                                                                I "favorite" the links thread for COM every month so I can find them later -- both the internal Chow threads, and the external recipe links, although that one should be part of the internal linky list.
                                                                                                It's under Show Topic Options up top.

                                                                                              2. Thanks for bringing the monthly suggestion threads back, JoanN! I hope that it doesn't end up being too much work or confusion for you. I do think the thread energizes me to participate, so I appreciate seeing it again...

                                                                                                A couple of thoughts/questions that I wanted to throw out:

                                                                                                1. I would really prefer it if each poster was limited to ONE suggestion. I understand having a few ideas in mind, but then this forces each of us to truly choose what book we want. Sort of streamlines the process and creates less work for you. If we decide to go this route, then you could just specify in your intro. If someone ends up suggesting more than one, then their suggestions cannot be included.

                                                                                                2. Can the coordinator make a suggestion as well? I noticed that JoanN didn't make a suggestion. Perhaps you're wanting to remain neutral as a coordinator, but I think it's too bad if you can't jump in and "play" too. I would have no problem w/ the coordinator posting a suggestion within the thread. I hope you are at least counting your vote? I'm not sure how Katie Nell and redwood2bay handled this...

                                                                                                I'd be interested to hear others' comments on the above.

                                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                                                  I never suggested or voted while I was the organizer- but, that really was because of a lot of factors. In the beginning, I didn't want to create a backlash against myself. I also wanted to remain as neutral as possible. In the end, I just wasn't enjoying the process anymore. I'm hoping that since I've given it a little time, I can get back into it and actually enjoy the cookbooks again.

                                                                                                  1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                                                    Thanks for your response, Katie Nell. I hope having some distance from it will indeed allow you to get back into it! I hope that we can find a way to balance the work part w/ the pleasure part for the organizers, otherwise no one will want to volunteer to organize in the future. I wonder if redwood2bay felt the same; I haven't seen her posting lately.

                                                                                                    This is a question for CH engineering:
                                                                                                    Is it possible to set up a polling system for the voting process so the organizer doesn't have to visually tabulate results? My husband said that other message boards that he visits allow a polling option whereby users click on their choice and it automatically gets tabulated. I'm not sure if the organizer would like this option, but just wanted to throw out the idea...

                                                                                                    1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                                                      We don't have polling functions available in our software. This is probably the only place it would really get used, so it's not likely we'd build it just for this. (I'd hate to see 'Where should I go eat Saturday?' polls on the regional boards, for example.)

                                                                                                      There are some independent survey type sites, though--googling 'free web poll' turns up hundreds of results. An organizer who was interested could probably make use of one of those and provide a link. It would open the question of whether people were ballot stuffing, though.

                                                                                                      1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                        I'm glad Jacquilynne raised the negative aspect of online polling. The contests at Apartment Therapy were plagued with bad feeling due to the appearance of ballot stuffing and I'd hate to see that on COM.

                                                                                                      2. re: Carb Lover

                                                                                                        Tabulating the votes for the final selection isn’t really that much of a problem, Carb Lover. I don’t want to speak for either redwood2bay or Katie Nell, but it was as a result of what I understood to be the most onerous part of the job for them that I initially set up the 6-month suggestion thread. At the beginning, suggestion threads were only occasional, appearing when the moderator was looking for new ideas. Trying to pull selections from both old and new suggestion threads became a bear of a job.

                                                                                                        If the ongoing procedure is that there is to be a new suggestion thread each month and that the books to be voted on will be chosen from that thread alone, it will ease the burden on the coordinator and make tallying those suggestions considerably easier than it had been in the past.

                                                                                                        As far as making my own recommendations, each moderator will, I’m sure, find his or her own way and each will be different. I remember telling Katie Nell in a private e-mail just before my tenure began that I had no qualms whatsoever about using any influence I might have to ensure that the cookbook of the month would be a book that really excited me. Little did I know. Not once so far during my stint has the book I’d have voted for won. And from the look of things, it’s not likely to happen next month either. But I figure I make my preference(s) known, to some extent at least, in the in the selection of titles to be voted on. I try to get at least one book among the finalists that I’d really like to tackle. Coordinator’s prerogative, right?

                                                                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                          JoanN writes, "At the beginning, suggestion threads were only occasional, appearing when the moderator was looking for new ideas. "

                                                                                                          I'm wondering if this is a misunderstanding, and perhaps where we went wrong in terms of process and the coordinator enjoyment/expectation.
                                                                                                          I'm pretty sure we had a "Your Suggestions Needed" thread each and every month for COM at the beginning. That's when I was most active in COM, and the suggestion discussions steered me towards interesting books, whether they were chosen or not.
                                                                                                          Anyway, it was a straightforward suggestion/voting/tabulation thing. The general topic was sometimes listed, gleaned from previous discussions, for example Baking for Dec 2006

                                                                                                          To the other point, I certainly want the coordinator to put her/his own suggestions/votes in the threads. What's the fun if they feel like they have to be an arbiter instead of a member?
                                                                                                          One cook, one vote! But that's a bummer that none of your votes has won, JoanN. Lately, I'm in the same boat!

                                                                                                          I think I disagree with one suggestion per person per month -- I could be equally happy to participate with X-number of books, and would want my thoughts to be counted with the crowd. I think more-than-one lets people be adventurous in their selections; what you think is a dark horse could actually catch fire and be a crowd-pleaser!

                                                                                                          Thanks everyone for their participation! I learn so much here!

                                                                                                          1. re: pitu

                                                                                                            p.s. tabulating off of two threads (6 month AND monthly) seems like a ridiculous burden that you should NOT have to endure.
                                                                                                            : )

                                                                                                            1. re: pitu

                                                                                                              "I'm pretty sure we had a "Your Suggestions Needed" thread each and every month for COM at the beginning."

                                                                                                              A number of people seem to think that, but if you go back and take a look you'll see it really isn't so. In fact, most of our early books--Essentials, Braising, Bayless, Zuni--came from general discussions about whether or not people wanted to give COTM a try and another follow-up on whether or not people wanted it to continue. There were quite a few months when there was no suggestion thread per se. You're right that later on the coordinator would most often ask for suggestions within a specific category rather than just throwing it open for a general discussion. Anyway, I can assure that from my perspective if it had been a simple suggest/vote/tabulate thing each month, there would have been no need for me to look for a way to try to make the job less frustrating than I know it had been for others.

                                                                                                              I agree with you that people shouldn't be limited to one suggestion a month and for exactly the reason you stated. I want to hear about cookbooks people are passionate about and, certainly in this crowd, that's more than just one a month.

                                                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                Thanks for everyone's comments. I was thinking that the polling would only be set up through the mods and not be a feature for everyone to implement on any thread, but I guess it doesn't make sense for the CotM. Final tabulation doesn't sound like a big deal in the scheme of things. As long as multiple suggestions are fine w/ you JoanN, then that works for me.

                                                                                                                Obviously, each organizer will have her/his own approach and preferences. It's been helpful to reflect on the process. Thanks and happy cooking!

                                                                                                    2. I'm really trying to remain positive about this project, but I just really don't understand the need to interject negative comments regarding the books into the voting thread. There is absolutely *no way* that everyone is going to like every single book we do. There have been books, even when I was the organizer, that I didn't like at all. It's one thing to have constructive criticism regarding the layout of the book, the recipes in the book, etc., but the criticism thus far has not been constructive in any way, shape, or form. I'd just like this to continue to be a fun and positive experience.

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                                                        I agree with you, Katie Nell! The whole reason for the cookbook of the month was to try a variety of books. It stands to reason that every book choice is not going to please every person. When I'm not into a book, I just don't participate. There is NO positive benefit to criticizing others' choice of a particular book or the book itself -- especially in the voting thread.

                                                                                                        1. re: DanaB

                                                                                                          I agree too and think this fun project is not a place to be negative or complain about choices, especially when it's done with input from all of the Hounds. I've noticed that also. The Vote for the COM thread is for the sole purpose of voting for one of the books listed. I don't think it's contributing to the process just to declare that one isn't voting or participating and why they don't like the choices; something I noticed almost every month in your tenure Katie - how discouraging - and since the project started.