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Internet or Your Cookbooks - Which are You Using More ?

Will one ever take the place of the other?

If you are on the "net" a lot, what are you actually looking for that you can't find in your trusty cookbooks?

Do you feel you are spending more time than you care to on the "net" searching for this or that recipe, technique or opinion?

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  1. Since I became a member of eatyourbooks.com, I am now much more likely to use my cookbooks since I can search them for a specific recipe, ingredient or type of food. I prefer working from a book, but that is not to say that I don't frequently use the internet for recipes as well.

    13 Replies
        1. re: roxlet

          Same for me. EYB is awesome. I have a crazy number of cookbooks - and growing! - but I used to rely on the internet almost exclusively because it was such a pain to look through the indexes of a dozen books to find what I want.

          I aso have an entire file box filled with recipes that I never get around to using at all, but am in the (very slow) process of adding them all to Pepperplate, my new favorite app. Wish the two could be combined to truly have all my recipes in one spot, but boy the 'add your own recipe' feature in EYB is tedious; it's 1000 times easier in Pepperplate! Also wish EYB had mobile apps.... But maybe I'm getting spoiled :)

          1. re: GardenFresh

            EYB is just wonderful, but thanks so much for the Pepperplate recommendation. So simple to have all online recipes in one spot

            1. re: GardenFresh

              Thank you -- thank you GardenFresh, for mentioning Pepperplate. I've been looking for something like that forever. Now, at last, I can get rid of looseleaf binders and folders stuffed with recipes I've clipped from newspapers and magazines or printed from websites. Yes, it'll be a tedious process to get them onto Pepperplate -- a bit easier to transfer recipes I've got in Word documents -- but then, it'll be like my own personal online cookbook. I'm SO excited! I have a weekend project ahead of me.

              1. re: GardenFresh

                Pepperplate....I just put a recipe on there from my "documents" file & now I popped back over here to thank you so much for posting the link. This is great....now wish I had someone to hand type all my recipes from clippings, recipe cards & hand written from friends.

                Was looking at hand held scanners on Amazon...wonder if that would work using all the recipes we need to put on Pepperplate. Maybe someone will read this & give us an opinion as to whether they work or not. Sure would make our live easier.

                1. re: cstout

                  I can't say for sure since I only discovered Pepperplate yesterday, but I'm guessing scanned images will not upload. I say that because PDF files don't work, either. Or, at least I can't find a way to make them work.

                  I've been adding some of my hand-written recipes manually. Then, depending on the source and the sentimental value of the original, decide whether to toss it or save it.

                  1. re: CindyJ

                    You can scan to a text file with OCR software. You will need to proofread it carefully, but when it's correct, it can be copied into a number of places.

              2. re: roxlet

                roxlet I completely agree with you. Since joining EYB, I rarely use anything except my cookbooks. Prior to becoming a member Epicurious and Food & Wine mag online were my two main sources of inspiration. I love EYB!

                1. re: roxlet

                  Agreed. EYB is wonderful for those of who have invested in cookbooks. I want to also mention that a good cookbook, as opposed to a book of recipes, usually has a wealth of good information, as well as recipes grouped by subject or food. You can find some good information on the web, but it might not be indexed in any useful way so that you can find it again.

                  But there are some good recipes on the web. I like to poke around an look at recipes online.

                  1. re: roxlet

                    Thanks so much for the pointer to EYB! I immediately signed up and started entering my cookbooks. I have a modest collection, but I realized that there are many nice ones that I just tend not to use. This is going to be a lot of fun to use.

                    1. re: roxlet

                      Wow, EYB is a cookbook hoarders dream. How have I never heard of this before? I signed up shortly after you posted, and it's brought life back into several underused cookbooks.

                      The labeling could be better. For example, although recipes from newer books are labeled with vegan/vegetarian, this doesn't seem to the a consistent convention for older books.

                      They just added an "Add to EYB" button to stick on your browser toolbar. At present, all it does is import the title and url of a recipe, and you have to manually add everything else in. Hopefully they'll allow imports ala pepperplate.com, but I'm not holding my breath for either of these sites--- unless a site allows you to export your data, I'm wary that they'll go out of business one day and take along all my recipes with them.

                      1. re: hyperbowler

                        hyperbowler, yes, I have thought about them going out of business too one day, or maybe going up sky high on the subscription, but that is the chance you have to take, I guess.

                    2. Over recent months, we've used our cookbooks more than the web. That's because we've made a conscious effort to use them.

                      1. I definitely use the Internet more to look for recipes. I find that a lot of cookbooks are full of recipes that use exotic ingredients, when usually I just want to make everyday food. I also find the Net more useful when looking for recipes that will use up a particular ingredient. Cookbooks do have the benefit (usually) that the recipes in there are tried and true and I think cookbooks are better for inspiration.

                        Sometimes I search the Net or look at cookbooks for inspiration as to what to make for dinner and I spend so much time looking at lots of lovely things that I end up getting too hungry to wait for anything that takes too long to cook that I just end up having my fallback pasta with a tin of tomatoes, spices and cheese for dinner.

                        1. Definitely using the net more. I look at several recipies for the same food, then make it. If there are too many ingredients or exotic ones I don't have I keep going til I find one that is suitable. In this day and economy I don't need to have to purchase a bunch of spices I will never use again. I already have more than 2 cabinets full of spices, most of which I do use. Some of the cookbooks have long involved directions and methods, after 46 years of cooking, I want it easy, tasty, and get me out of the kitchen fast. My knees won't take standing for long periods of time anymore. I haven't ruined a meal from the net yet, so will keep using it. And we do not use prepared foods from the stores. I am a from scratch cook.

                          1. Recipes I am interested in get copied into Word format and stored on my hard drive and, of course, backed up on DVD and or flash drives. I suspect most of my recipes were obtained online. I do have several cookbooks and try to transcribe the recipes I am interested in. That is sort of a work in progress but I do a little every day. I plan to eventually do away with most of my cookbooks. I plan to keep the ones that are more instructive than just compendiums of recipes.

                            I print a recipe and use it for cooking. After the meal I throw it away. I may go back to the computer and add notes about future variations to the recipe.

                            Because of the proliferation of recipes on the web, cookbooks that are only collections of recipes have much less value. You can find almost any recipe or something very close on the web.

                            All that being said, I still have and buy cookbooks but not as many as I once did. I know a lot of people really enjoy cuddling up to a cookbook and reading them and looking at the photos but that isn't me.

                            I, especially, like that web site recipe sites provide feedback from other cooks about what they thought of the recipes. They often provide variation ideas, too. If a recipe on Epicurious has 200 or more reviews, it's probably a winner.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Hank Hanover

                              Very much the same here: I search online first and print off those I know I will use. These become part of my recipe organizer. It holds the recipes I use over and over again.

                              I also have a long list in my favorites column. And user reviews are very helpful.

                              The one book I use repeatedly (and it is quite literally falling apart) is the Betty Crocker 40th Anniversary Cook Book. The baking powder biscuits and the pie crust recipes just work for me.

                            2. There's something really nice about sitting down with a glass of wine and a cookbook to plan my meals for the week. And I usually need pictures to get me excited about something. I have a lot of go-to recipes that I make over and over again from books I have, or from family recipes. I don't think I've ever actually purchased a cookbook. They've always been gifts. So I'd say it's about 50-50 for me. I'll go to certain food websites and see what jumps out at me, or I'll look up something specific via a web search.

                              1. I do use the net, mostly. It's so easy to go to Foodily, allrecipes.com or epicurious and plug in what ingredients I have, and get ideas of what to make. I rarely (almost never!) choose a recipe first, then go buy the ingredients specifically for that recipe.
                                For my old faves, I've got my 70's era Joy, Fannie, and even Betty Crocker cookbooks, plus a variety of others. I really don't ever buy the latest cookbooks that are out there. With the way I cook, it wouldn't pay.

                                And if I want to make something extra special that I haven't done before, I go to CH first, and see what the hounds have to say.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: jmcarthur8

                                  If I have a set of ingredients that I want to use, I find http://www.recipepuppy.com/ to be a useful site.

                                  But more to the point -- over the past year or so, I've had more new (to me) recipes from the New York Times than any other single source. The Times has a lot of good writers -- David Tanis, Mark Bittman, Martha Rose Shulman, Florence Fabricant, Melissa Clark, and others.

                                  1. re: drongo

                                    Oh, fun! I had not seen that site before .... Just took a look and put it on my links bar already. Thanks!

                                2. I use the internet often if I'm looking for a specific recipe, and I do get flashes of inspiration from food blogs (and pinterest, and foodgawker/tastespotting, etc.), but if I'm planning a menu or a shopping list, I'm much more likely to sit down with my cookbooks to get ideas.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Savour

                                    savour, thanks for mentioning those other sites...always nice to visit around.

                                    I don't watch TV anymore, the Food shows all started being the same, so now I am getting my feet wet trying to find various sites to look around in.

                                  2. Books for sure. I have a huge collection, carefully assembled over the years. I tend to know the authors bias and tendencies.
                                    Too many 5-star rated recipes out on the net that aren 't to our tastes. Though its usually not too hard to spot the turkeys, there is an awfully high chaf to wheat ratio out there.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: malabargold

                                      5 star ratings...yes, I am beginning to really be disappointed in those types of recipes...you read the review & they have completely revised the recipe & then gave it 5 stars, I guess that is because it is now THEIR recipe.

                                      Magazines certainly do count. I don't subscribe to magazines anymore...too much advertising for so little info.

                                      It is a pleasure when a Chow person posts their recipe...they are accurate & you can count on it turning out.

                                      We are definitely getting too much overload on the net.

                                      I do like Youtube for demos sometime just to see what equipment they are using, what their kitchen looks like & maybe to pick up a new technique, however that sometimes turns out to be a dud when they showing off or whatever.

                                      What magazine do you like most for recipes??

                                      1. re: cstout


                                        I highly recommend you purchase a premium membership (about $18) at Cook's Illustrated or America's Test Kitchen. Their recipes are tested and experimented on. If they post a recipe, it works.

                                        The only problem with them is they will email you constantly trying to sell you something.

                                    2. Do magazines count? We get more than our share of food magazines and they are the first place I look for new recipes The internet is second and finally, thanks to cookbook of the month, cookbooks, And we have an extensive collection of those dating back to the sixties but I seldom turn to my older books for new ideas.

                                      1. I'm about half and half. I made a conscious effort a few years ago to get rid of all the random cookbooks that I would never actually want to cook from (or had found to have faulty recipes), so now I have solid, basic reference texts for the types of cooking my family and I usually like to do. I look to my cookbooks first, and then the internet if I can't find exactly what I'm looking for. For ethnic dishes, or dishes featuring an unusual ingredient I've happened across, I'll turn to the internet. There are also a few blogs and websites that I'll occasionally get inspiration from.

                                        My husband is almost totally internet these days, with mixed results since he doesn't read reviews. When I do use the internet for recipes, I pay attention to user feedback and either make adjustments accordingly, or move on to a different recipe.

                                        All in all, I prefer having a paper copy to work from, and I don't like having to worry about a phone or laptop in the middle of the cooking mess. Once they perfect a waterproof, washable e-reader, cookbooks may become obsolete, but until then I definitely prefer books.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: electricfish

                                          If I find a receipe on the net, I copy it to my documents & then print it out...cannot work from a computer screen at all.

                                          1. re: cstout

                                            I like having recipes on my Ipad, using the Paprika app. Before that, I would never have used a laptop to display recipes to follow. You do have get the recipe into Paprika. If it is a recipe I might use repeatedly, then it is worthwhile putting it into the app.

                                          1. truthfully I use my mind most.
                                            if I want to make something, I think about it and go from there.
                                            usually I can figure out what should go in there.
                                            now if I'm making a souffle like David Rocco is doing right now, I seek out a recipe.
                                            face it, although I have 'cookbooks only' on the standing book shelf in the kitchen, I pull over my iPhone or lap top onto the island and seek.

                                            although if I just want good reading, I pull down about 5 or 6 cookbooks and plop myself on the couch with a huge cup of tea.

                                            1. Mostly cookbooks for me, although I'm certainly not opposed to using the internet. I tend to be very technique oriented, so cookbooks that describe a particular technique or set of techniques tend to be what I buy. While it's certainly possible to find techniques online, I find it more useful to read my cookbooks cover to cover, cooking what looks interesting along the way.

                                              Seconding Eat Your Books. I have a hard time knowing exactly what's in larger books like How to Cook Everything, and I can't always come up with recipes for items in my weekly produce box. This makes it much easier.

                                              I love to read blogs for the stories, and sometimes I'll be inspired to cook a particular dish. For example, I just read a recipe for borscht, which I'd like to make with the beets I have on hand. But it can be hard to tell the quality of recipes online. Typically, what I do is look up a dozen or so recipes for the same thing, then come up with a version that fits my palette.

                                              I mostly avoid the large online recipe databases, with which I've had very little luck. I'm sure there are some gems on there, but all too often the recipes contain dubious ingredients like cream of soups and dried herbs. Since the content isn't usually curated, I have a hard time finding something that actually looks good.

                                              1. I began my love of cookbooks early in life. Pouring through my kiddie cookbooks and marking the recipes that seemed tasty. In college a friend introduced me to allrecipes and I was hooked (although it can be difficult to shuffle through the stuff that isn't part of my cooking philosophy.) Along the way I found epicurious and myrecipes. I have approximately 50 cookbooks in my possession plus 3 accordian folders full of clippings. About 3-4 years ago I learned about food blogging and found a new resource. Ideally I would UAE my cookbooks more but with the ease of the Internet this tends to be my go to.

                                                You have just reminded me about eat you books and I just signed up for the free 5 book trial. I honk I'm a convert and will be upgrading as soon as I go home.

                                                1. I use the internet, tastespotting.com and epicurious primarily to get inspiration as well as interesting new recipes.

                                                  1. Online for the most part here. As much as we love books (we have floor to ceiling shelves of them in one room, spilling out into other areas of the house....) it's never extended to cookbooks for me. There are so few cooks/chefs/food writers who's books I would use cover to cover to make it worth it to me. I have limited space for cookbooks in my kitchen and I use that space sparingly for books I will use. (Thomas Keller, Julie Sahni, a few dogeared issues of Gourmet and Bon Appetit I've been hanging onto since the late 80s/ early 90s, vintage cookbooks that are excellent reference.)

                                                    I'm really not much of a recipe cook. I use them for baking more than cooking and I don't bake often. When I do... I can look it up online!

                                                    1. Internet should be more than cookbooks for me. I can pretty much find all the recipes I want to make, and it's easy to search. Internet gives very wide options. But I do have lots of good cookbooks too, and sometimes if I feel tired of interntet, switch to cookbooks.

                                                      1. I must have 300+ cookbooks, but I nevertheless get a lot of recipes from epicurious. That's because it is so much easier to search for recipes based on the particular ingredients I happen to have around. (I am unfamiliar with eatyourbooks, and I'm going to look into that.) I also like epicurious because the reviews generally are critical and therefore quite useful, so unlike the reviews for food network recipes. Recipes on epicurious involve real cooking with whole foods, no can of soup casserole carp.

                                                        Epicurious does have limitations, however, in my opinion, which is one reason why I continue to make use of my cookbooks. Its collection of French recipes is absurdly small, and they often aren't authentic. That is also the case with their Thai, Chinese and Indian recipes. There is way too much space given to Mexican food for my taste, and it seems like every other recipe I come across uses cilantro, which I despise.

                                                        1. I'd say I probably use my cookbooks more, but I also use the net, but I'm pretty discriminating about what recipes I use from there. I don't just randomly google search for a recipe. I go to trusted sources.

                                                          1. I am a huge fan of my 1973 Betty Crocker cookbook for reference for timing and temperature on cooking meat. It makes reference to the different cuts, weights, oven temps, meat temps and time and has been pretty darn accurate. That said, as much as I love it, I also do a quick online search because some meats, pork especially, have changed in their accepted internal temps. Cut styles have also changed. But I still love old Betty and if nothing else, it's a hoot to pull out and look at some of the "In Style" appetizers and mains of the era!

                                                            1. Have not read the whole post yet but I'll chime in.

                                                              I do both. I use the web for quick searches. I go to my book case when I want to take my time and dig in to established references. Many websites have have unreliable sources. I don't care about comments. If I want feedback I come here. I usually only follow a recipe once then go back for a quick refresher. I tend to use what's in my head unless it is a dessert which needs precision.

                                                              Cookbooks will never vanish but they seem to be dwindling. I tend to waste time on the web unless it is a favorite cooking blog.

                                                              1. I have a few books I use mostly as references, like Joy of Cooking and The Flavor Bible. If I'm working from an actual recipe, most are from the internet or magazines. Now that I have an e-reader, I'm using internet recipes even more since I can just pull of the webpage on the reader and don't have to deal with paper. When I do have to use a hard copy of a recipe, I prefer single pages I can put on the fridge with a magnet.

                                                                1. Both -- but I'll clarify.

                                                                  I use the web when I am at work and suddenly realize I don't have a game plan for dinner and I am heading out to the grocery store. Then I use cookbooks when I am sitting at home and I have time to plan a menu.

                                                                  1. I almost exclusively use the internet for recipes as I can select recipes from difference sources and by ratings. WIth a cookbook, it's hard to know whether it is a winning recipe or not.
                                                                    I amost always use Epicurious.com and see the reviews and ratings before I choose the recipe. 99% accurate.

                                                                    1. Well tonights dinner was pulled pork sandwiches and potatoe salad. The rub for the pork I found online, the sauce recipe was from a cookbook, and the potatoe salad recipe came from my gma. So I use all to source recipes and mainly internet for techniques.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: viperlush

                                                                        Ha Ha...a well rounded person you are!!!!

                                                                      2. Another good point about using a cookbook is that they can be so much more than just recipe, many read with good prose and rich descriptions that a web recipe doesn't convey.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: LikestoEatout

                                                                          Absolutely. I love to sit down with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and dive into reading a cookbook!

                                                                        2. I like cookbooks. They tend to have a little more "Why" and character. I bu them because the author rpesents a point of view of cooking and then executes it.
                                                                          if, on the other hand, i want a good recipe for wings for Sunday football, the net is always handy.

                                                                          1. I use my cookbooks more; my partner uses the internet more.

                                                                            I had not heard of Eat Your Books before this thread. To all of you who mentioned it, I love you, I am forever indebted to you, I am writing you into my will.

                                                                            1. Love the internet, but it's still cookbooks for me.

                                                                              1. The internet, for sure. I love the idea of using cookbooks for sentimental reasons but practicality of using the web rules out.

                                                                                1. I use the internet when I have something specific in mind and need either a recipe or some inspiration. I love browsing cookbooks (I take out a ton from the library) but in a way that act is less about research and more just straight-up pleasure reading.

                                                                                  1. I find myself using the internet much more. It provides one thing that my cookbooks can't and thats reviews from people that have actually prepared it. I don't automatically just go for 5 stars and accept it, but it's a good place to start.


                                                                                    1. I use them in different ways.

                                                                                      I use cookbooks for ideas, and information about particular cuisines. So if I feel like making Indian food, but want to make something new, I'll dig out the books and browse through.

                                                                                      I use the internet when I know I want to make X, but need to check how to do it. Then, I tend to look at three or four recipes, and use some combination of them.

                                                                                      I deliberately avoid the big sites like cooks.com. They pop up on every single recipe search, but clicking on the google link simply leads to a list of dozens of vaguely related recipes, which is less than useful. I also find the quality of the recipes too variable. I tend to gravitate towards themed blogs, or sites associated with food shows or magazines. In the first case, they are often written by someone with an expertise in a particular type of food, in the second, there's a better chance that the recipe has been tested.

                                                                                      I must admit, I am amused by comments on internet recipes where it's obvious that the person commenting changed nearly everything, and is therefore describing the results of a totally different recipe. Things like "Pretty good - I changed with the wine vinegar for balsamic, left out the mushrooms because my husband doesn't like it, and added some olives and garlic " Or even better - "terrible recipe, didn't work at all! I used skim milk instead of cream, margarine instead of butter, soy cheese instead of mozarella, left out the salt, and used whole wheat pasta"

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                                        tastesgoodwhatisit...ha ha...you are so right....the reviewer of a recipe changes the original recipe completely & then has the nerve to say it turned out terrible.

                                                                                        I start getting totally confused when everyone is doing this that or the other to make it better in some way. One says to do "this", the other says, "no, do this & this", so I am constantly referring back to the original recipe to see how it was listed in the first place, & then I get tired of reading review after review & just go ahead & make it disregarding all the "changes". Jeez...

                                                                                      2. I love cookbooks and have lots of them, but more often than not it's to the web I go when looking for inspiration. My go to sites are Epicurious, and my new favorite is Foodblogsearch.com. I very often talk myself down from buying cookbooks because I know that after going through them, they will sit on my shelf and not get the love they deserve.

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: mamueller

                                                                                          MAUELLER, I too am going through withdrawal symptoms from buying cookbooks....having a very hard time doing it. Too many cookbooks laying around. Oh sure I thumb through them, but ultimately put them aside & go to the old pooter to see if there is a better recipe out there.

                                                                                          Will have to check out Foodbogsearch.com...thanks for sharing those 2 sites

                                                                                          1. re: cstout

                                                                                            try "eatyourbooks"; It's really easy to enter your cookbooks (it took me at most 20 minutes) and then you can find recipes in your own books; I've already used it quite a few times in only a couple of weeks.

                                                                                            1. re: DGresh

                                                                                              DGresh, I keep saying, "I don't want to eatmybooks", but you folks keep saying it is so great, I will go check it out...having to pay for a subscription is a bummer though..just because I am a tight wad.