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Mar 2, 2009 03:40 PM

Cookbooks I won't buy

Because my disposable income has been reduced a bit, I have to cut back my spending on cookbooks. I have made a list in my mind of books I won't buy for various reasons. Let me know if I am missing out on a great one.

Any book that has these words in the title

Bible (exception..the Flavor Bible)
30 Minute Meals or such

Any book that is a paperback as the first edition. If the publisher has no confidence in it, neither do I (exception...Coil bound)

Any book written by a celebrity chef (possible exception...Tom Collichio..Think like a Chef)

Any book that comes from a famous restaurant. I can't cook that stuff anyway.

So...any others I should reject and any that I am wrong about?


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  1. For me, it has nothing to do with economy but interest. I love the library for finding cookbooks. I would include anything that is "brand name" based. 100+ Recipes Using X.

    7 Replies
    1. re: TampaAurora

      Unfortunately, the library in my small town is in somebody's closet. They had to close it because someone forgot to return the book..:-)

      1. re: billieboy

        People who have access to a large, well-stocked library with lots of new acquisitions are very fortunate indeed. (I am one of those people.) Because I agree with TampaAurora that the library is a great resource for test driving cookbooks. (I also almost never buy fiction anymore. I just read library books.)

        But to get back to your post, I have to say that as a general rule I almost never buy cookbooks with those words in the title - but there are ALWAYS exceptions. The Cake Bible and The Bread Bible leap to mind as do the Best of America's Test Kitchen 2007, 2008 etc. I recently purchased Best of ATK 2007 (haven't received it yet) and I have Best of ATK 2008 out of the library now. I just made the crumb cake in the book last week and it was the easiest crumb cake I ever made (I make a lot of crumb cake) and by far the best tasting. I'm going to try some more of the recipes this week...

        1. re: flourgirl

          flour girl what is your method - crumbs as a filling or only on top

          1. re: miss margie

            This recipe was for crumbs only on the top. It made 2 round 9 inch pans of cake and it was SO good.

        2. re: billieboy

          Funny! My library is pretty tiny too, but it is linked to all the other libraries in my state. I log on from home, (or work) tap out a request. When it arrives at my local closet, they call me up and I tootle on down. Life without libraries must be harsh!

            1. re: thinks too much

              I do the same thing...compulsive library book ordering has replaced compulsive Amazon cookbook buying for me. I have been able to find about 90% of the books I search for (not just cooking, but my other interests as well).

        3. I'll not give up my Frank Stitt Highland's Grill Cookbook or his new Bottega Favorita cookbook without a fight, yes I can cook that stuff. Any of Rose Levy Birnbaum's "Bible" cookbooks are well thought out and are chock full of really good info. All of my Rick Bayless books are keepers with good info.

          You may be selling some of these books short based on title. Too bad about the library because I often check a book out of the library to see if it is something I want. Oh, and you will not get my Ottolenghi book away from me either.

          11 Replies
          1. re: Candy

            Yes, I'm with you. BTW - is the Grill Cookbook one that came after Southern Table one?

            The Balthazar Cookbook is one of my favorites - it's a great example of recipes successfully converted from a restaurant to a home kitchen. I use it all the time.

            1. re: MMRuth

              I just checked out the Balthazar Cookbook on Amazon. It is now on my short list. Thank you.

              1. re: billieboy

                You are welcome - - lists some favorites recipes from the book.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  Off-topic but how do you do that? You know, when you give the link but then it takes me to the exact spot. I've thought about it for a while but can't figure it out. Probably something simple?

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Click on "Permalink" to the left of "Report" - that will put the exact URL for the post in your browser box.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      And it will take one to the exact spot in the link?

                      1. re: c oliver

                        Yes - you cut and paste the link - for example, your post to which I am replying is:

                        "" (I took out the http:// in hopes that the url wouldn't get truncated as the one above was.)

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          Okay, I'm going to save this and try it tomorrow when my brain feels fresher :) 'Cause I still don't get how it takes me to the "spot" within the thread. I will probably annoy some (again) by trying a test on Site Talk :)

                2. re: MMRuth

                  Bottega Favorita came out in Nov. this year. Great Stuf. Best Mussel recipe I have ever had.

                3. re: Candy

                  I agree about RLB's books. Whether you use the recipes or not, they have a lot of good information. And, I've found them at the library before I decided to buy. Our library has a better selection of cookbooks than Borders.

                  Overstock has good cookbooks, sometimes. I found King Arthur's cookbooks there at a fraction of Amazon prices, plus you can't beat the shipping.

                4. If there are some you're interested in consider seeing if the local library has them so you can take them for "test cooks".

                  Oops! I see that has already been mentioned.

                  1. One that is named for a reality TV show (e.g. Biggest Loser Cookbook) or is published for the purpose of advancing someone's theory on "healthy diets" or anything with a title "How to .... (words describing improvement of health, etc.) Another one is "Cook Your Way to ..."
                    I don't usually purchase cookbooks authored by celebrity chefs or hosts of television programs but I have made some exceptions for the truly talented (IMO) chefs who create not only cook very exotic dishes but who also demonstrate the ability to cook simpler foods that provide hearty meals. 30 Minute Meals and the like don't interest me much. If I couldn't get a meal on the table within thirty minutes I'd abandon the kitchen. I don't enjoy that "quickie" kind of cooking but, if it's necessary, it isn't that difficult.
                    My favorites are those published early to mid 20th century (or older, when I can find them) and, in my collection, the one I favor most is the Prudence Penny Regional Cook Book, 1941, publlished for the San Francisco Examiner by Consolidated Book Publishers, Chicago.

                    1. I have no problems with the Bittman 'Best' books - I bought one at discount, another used, and checked a third out the library several times.

                      I haven't bought any Jose Andres book, but have checked them out of the library.

                      22 Replies
                      1. re: paulj

                        The Cook's Illustrated "The New Best Recipe" is pretty fantastic too. For restaurant cookbooks, I have a few recipes I love from the Moosewood cookbooks. And strangely enough, "365 Chocolate Desserts" that I bought my mother maybe 10 years ago has the best chocolate cake recipe I've found. Other than those and a few other exceptions, I think you're right....

                        Add also any cookbook by a non-chef celebrity - they're worse than the celebrity chefs.

                        1. re: Emmmily

                          I have Sophia Loren's cookbook - that someone gave me - and the things that I've made from it were very good. I think I recall some other posters on the boards who liked it as well. I think it's hard to make blanket rules about cookbooks - for example, save a couple of recipes, I found Patricia Wells's Vegetable Harvest pretty miserable, though I've liked some of her other cookbooks.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            There's always exceptions. (Who would think 365 Chocolate Desserts would become a favorite?) Though I recently saw Gloria Estefan's cookbook at the Strand and couldn't help but laugh... Just watch, it'll turn out that one's amazing too. :-P

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              My father adores the Sophia Loren book (he's second gen. Italian) too.

                            2. re: Emmmily

                              Vincent Price (remember him?) had superb cookbooks - an early CH ancestor from the dark days of cooking in the 70's.

                              1. re: alwayscooking

                                I've heard many times that Mr. Price's books were really really good. I would love to see one.

                                1. re: flourgirl

                                  Yes, as have I. They are available on the used market for a price..A very large price. I would love to have one.

                                2. re: LindaWhit

                                  "Treasury" is their big fancy one; I bought a second copy just because it was 1st edition and perfect condition for $25, but I find it a tad pretentious, which is not really the kind of people they were. "Come Into the Kitchen" (Stravon, 1969) is another one of theirs, a collection of heritage-type American recipes, and it's an absolute delight.

                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                    My earlier post to which you responded was removed, Will - probably because of the "for sale" comment. But yes - I have two copies of the 1st edition of Treasury; great fun to look through. I did get a copy of "Come Into the Kitchen" as well - very enjoyable reads!

                                      1. re: yayadave

                                        I haven't yet. But only because I haven't really sat down to go through and see if there's anything I'd want to cook - I just skimmed through the Treasury book when I got it....haven't picked it up again. Bad Linda. :-)

                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                          I had a first edition years ago. It never really inspired me and I gave it away. It seemed very dated at the time. Sort of like what my parents considered gourmet dining in the 50's & 60's. &boy curries and the like. It may have gone up in value but I really do not miss it.

                                          1. re: Candy

                                            I think I wanted it (found out about it on a CH thread several years back) less for the recipes, and more for the inside info re: "famous" restaurants at the time.

                                        2. re: yayadave

                                          I've cooked from "Kitchen", never from "Treasury". While the latter is just too fancy-schmancy Continental Cuisine for my taste, a lot of the former's recipes are given in their original, old-fashioned form as well as a modern update, thus providing not only a sense of historical depth but also the information needed to follow the more original procedures if you want to. I love stuff like that.

                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                            Am I missing something? I can't figure out what books you guys are talking about. What are "Kitchen" and "Treasury"?

                                            1. re: JoanN

                                              Been wondering the same thing but was too afraid to ask :-)

                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                "Come Into the Kitchen" and "Treasury of Favorite Recipes", two cookbooks by Vincent Price and his wife. They were brought into the discussion in a post that's been deleted.

                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                  Joan, Vincent Price and his wife, Mary, were early Chowhounds. They authored several cookbooks, the first, "Treasury of Great Recipes", , which concentrates on great restaurants around the world in their day, showing their menus, photos and recipes.

                                                  The second, "Come Into My Kitchen" a book of what they (the Prices) considered classic American recipes. The latter is more useful, according to Will. :-)

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    I'm a Vincent Price fan. I have his cookbooks, his art books, a children's book, etc. In addition to the cookbooks listed above, fans should look for "The Beverly Hills Cookbook", which is a collection of audiotapes of Mr. Price reading and discussing recipes in that unforgettable voice of his.

                                    1. re: paulj

                                      I've picked up a number of Hermes House picture-book cookbooks from Half Price books. One of the most useful is "Italy's 500 Best-Ever Recipes". If I have, for example, some salmon belly pieces and a hankering for pasta, I can scan through its 30+ recipes for seafood and pasta. Some are traditional Italian dishes, others contemporary Italian, and I'm sure some are British-Italian.

                                      I don't pay much attention to the 'Best' part of book titles like this, but the 500 or 1000 does catch my attention. That's because I used cookbooks for ideas and new flavor combinations. I have enough experience and feel for cooking that recipe details and techniques are not that important.

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        My DH hates to go to Half Price Books with me because of the cookbook section! I can spend way too much time perusing the aisles there.

                                        1. re: danhole

                                          Luckily mine will spend as much time in the cookbook section as I. I just wish we had a 1/2 Price closer. it is about an hour's drive to get to the closest one.