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Cookbook of the Month April 2013: The Voting Thread

Sorry to keep y'all in suspenders, as my granny would have said. Well she wouldn't have said y'all, because she was from Yorkshire, but you catch my drift.

April was a lively discussion month with a definite Spring in its step! I've counted and double counted, and I reckon there were four titles with the same number of votes. No clear frontrunner. So it looks like we've got a nailbiter on our hands!

The runners are:

AD HOC AT HOME/THOMAS KELLER MONTH

SMITTEN KITCHEN COOKBOOK AND BLOG

FOOD FROM PLENTY BY DIANA HENRY (with an adjunct thread)

SOUL OF A NEW CUISINE by Marcus Samuelsson

For more details on the books in contention (plus an interesting discussion on how to organise your cookbooks), head over to the nomination thread. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/893366

For voting, I thought we'd try Breadcrumbs' suggestion of using the fancy new "recommend" button. The nominated books will appear in separate posts. To vote, simply click on the box next to "recommend" at the bottom of the post. You can still only vote once! I will be checking!

Voting will close at 0800 GMT on Thursday 21st March (or midnight on the 20th if you're on the West Coast of America - y'all can work out the rest).

Fingers crossed that this new system of voting works and we don't have another Florida on our hands!

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    1. Vote here by clicking on the recommend box for:

      SMITTEN KITCHEN COOKBOOK AND BLOG

      1. Vote here by clicking on the recommend box for:

        FOOD FROM PLENTY BY DIANA HENRY (with adjunct thread)

          1. PS Don't be afraid to post if you have any questions/comments!

            103 Replies
              1. re: blue room

                I've just spotted a flaw - I can't recommend my own post! Disenfranchised!

                1. re: greedygirl

                  Hah! Well, we can always award exclusive rights to use of the "+1" for our distinguished co-ordinator!!

                  1. re: greedygirl

                    If it turns out that you're voting for a different book than whatever i decide on, I'd be more than happy to cast your vote for you (but you'll have to remember that I'm allowed 2 votes this month). Let me know if you'd like me to do so.

                    A bit disappointed that the Diana Henry books are not available on kindle - they look wonderful.

                    1. re: LulusMom

                      I think I'll just hang back and add my vote at the end if it looks tight. For the record, I'm voting for DIANA HENRY. Apart from anything else, it's the only one I own or have interest in owning!

                      1. re: greedygirl

                        That is what is most appealing to me right this second, although i want to think about it. Tomorrow is the last day our library is open for the next few weeks, so I'm going to try hard to stop by and pick the books up. Fingers crossed they are still there!

                        1. re: LulusMom

                          Sounds like a plan! I hope you're feeling better by the way and that Mr LLM has been looking after you.

                          1. re: greedygirl

                            Wish me luck at the library tomorrow! On am definitely on the road to recovery (although still hacking on day 24, for crying out loud). LulusDad has been doing a superlative job of looking after me. But he's leaving the country tomorrow. Eeek!

                          2. re: LulusMom

                            gg, Mel, LlM and others w the book. Could you give me a sense of what spring-type recipes Plenty might have? I did a quick view of its recipes in EYB but what I saw reminded me more of fall dishes. I've had this book on my Amazon wishlist for some time and have been on the fence. I didn't see recipes in the list that seemed different from those in other books I already own.

                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                              Here's a few that are spring-like either in ingredients or attitude, plus a few that I would consider all-season:

                              There are a set of recipes for leftover roast chicken that go in an Asian direction with it:Vietnamese Chicken with Nuoc Nam, and Chiang Mai Chicken Noodles.

                              There is a lot of lamb, I won't even begin to list them.

                              Pinzimonio - a starter of raw veg that calls for young carrots, peas, radishes, etc.

                              Peas, broad beans, and chorizo with mint

                              Beetroot, fennel and radish salad
                              Radish, olive, anchovy and parsley salad
                              Turkish carrots with lentils and herbs
                              Greek potatoes, curly endive, spinach and leeks with dill, mint and garlic yoghurt
                              Lentils with spring cabbage and peperoncino
                              Spring couscous
                              Mackerel with spiced rhubarb relish
                              Beetroot, celeriac and smoked mackerel salad
                              Roast mackerel on potatoes, lemon and thyme
                              Many salmon dishes, whether that is appropriate depends upon where your fish come from
                              Genoese squid with potatoes
                              Braised squid with fennel (variation of the above)
                              Pea and coriander soup
                              Cool lettuce and herb soup
                              Soup Savoyarde
                              Parsnip and smoked haddock soup
                              Wild greens soup
                              Wild garlic and goat's cheese omelet
                              Some strawberry recipes (here in the South, strawberries would be available in April)

                              1. re: MelMM

                                Mel, sincere thanks for this. Such a helpful list & much appreciated.

                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                  I initially recommended Diana Henry when it was colder. However, April can still sometimes be quite cool here, not to mention rainy, so I might appreciate some of the more warming recipes

                            2. re: LulusMom

                              Managed to get Plenty and Pure, Simple Food (hope that is the right name) from my library yesterday. Had a look at the second one and was really impressed. There is a lot in there that I'd like to make. It doesn't look like it has a bat's chance in hell of winning, but it is worth picking up for those of you who like good food with fairly uninvolved prep work. I'm happy to have it for the next 3 weeks.

                                1. re: greedygirl

                                  I can see why. I have a feeling that the library copy is going to end up making me need to have a copy. I'm going to try something from it next week. So many things look so good.

                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                      Can you tell me some of your favorites? I plan to make the cod with anchovies and white bean puree along with the roasted tomatoes with herbs first.

                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                        Just a note for anyone who has this Diana Henry book (Pure, Simple Food, I believe it is called) - made a full meal from it last night that was loved (raved about!) by everyone. As I mentioned above, I made the cod with anchovies and white bean puree, and served the roasted tomatoes with herbed breadcrumbs on the side. Going for the pasta with roasted onions, Gorgonzola and walnuts next week.

                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                          The only DH book I have is Flavors. The chapter titles are:
                                          Lemon & Lime, Chocolate, Mint & Basil, Salt & Pepper, Cinnamon & Spice, Vanilla, Ginger & Chili, and Garlic & Onion. Nothing like Mighty Spice at all, but still probably enough there to recreate a pretty tasty dish or two... Just hasn't happened here yet.

                                          Your dishes sound great!

                                          1. re: Gio

                                            Thanks Gio. Wow, those are some interesting title headings. After last night's dinner LulusDad said "I think you should buy the book."

                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                              Uh Oh! Wonder what my next move will be. If LLD says That, I "should buy the book" yes?

                                              1. re: Gio

                                                All signs point to yes. Going to live with the book (from the library) for another week or two before making the definite decision. Maybe greedygirl can help us out.

                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                  I looked on EYB and I can't find a listing for a book called Flavors by Diana Henry. Perhaps the US version has a different title?

                                                  1. re: dkennedy

                                                    I think Flavours is by Donna Hay, and the Diana Henry book mentioned is Pure, Simple Food.....

                                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                                        You're correct. I confused the issue... sorry!
                                                        Who said alphabet soup?

                                            2. re: LulusMom

                                              I also got Pure Simple Cooking from the library this week, and love the sound of lots of the recipes. I am planning on cooking a couple of things from it in the next few days, so I am very encouraged by your experience, LulusMom!

                                              I am thinking we should have a "Cooking from Diana Henry's Books" thread, given how enthusiastic people are about her. I would be happy to start one if others would like to join in.

                                              P.S. On the plus side for the "need to own" impulse, this book and some of her others are fairly slim...

                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                I would definitely join in, if you posted such a thread.

                                                Is the book you got, and LLM got, actually called "Pure Simple Cooking"? That is the title I'm seeing on Amazon. I have one called "Cook Simple," which I believe is the UK edition of the same book.

                                                1. re: MelMM

                                                  You're right about the book title, MMM, and as I'm still within the edit window, I corrected it in my post.

                                                  I went ahead and started a thread, though I won't have anything to report until at least tomorrow. I hope to see you all there!

                                                  Here it is: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/895953

                                                  1. re: MelMM

                                                    Yep, that is the one. For some reason my brain isn't storing that information. Sorry about misleading people. It really is a nice looking book, lots of stuff that sounds good to me.

                                                  2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                    I'd be more than game for a thread like that Caitlin!

                                                  3. re: LulusMom

                                                    Yay! So pleased you like this book.

                                              2. re: LulusMom

                                                What is the name of the book you're interested in, LLM? "Pure and Simple Food'?

                                                1. re: Gio

                                                  Pure Simple Cooking by Diana Henry. Do you have it too? I really marked a lot of dishes when I went through it yesterday, salivating. If you have it, would love to hear about anything you've made and what you thought.

                                2. re: greedygirl

                                  Oh no, I don't want to be the cause of another hanging chad...fingers crossed that this works out!!!

                                  On the voting, this rarely happens and it may come as a surprise to some folks but I only own 1 of the books nominated! It should make my life easier for voting but, I don't know if there are enough weeknight friendly meals in Ad Hoc that I could support it for a month of cooking. I'll take a look this weekend.

                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                    I own them all, as is often the case. Makes the deciding harder, but it means I'll be ready to go whatever the result.

                                    1. re: MelMM

                                      Oooh, well I'll be watching to see where you place your well-considered vote then Mel!! I may just need to buy a book!

                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                        Well, I have only cooked from two of the books, Ad Hoc and Plenty, so I don't know how well-considered my vote is. It's really based on just knowing myself, and what book I'd be most likely to cook from in a month when I have a hectic travel schedule (again.... seems to be a theme in my life lately). Different circumstances would very possibly result in a different choice.

                                        1. re: MelMM

                                          I'll be travelling as well Mel...at least if it's a book I don't own that wins, I likely won't feel like I'm missing out because of my travel!

                                  2. re: greedygirl

                                    Thanks, GG! This new "recommend" system is fun -- I like how easy it is to keep track of the horse race!

                                    I'm going to have a hard time choosing between Diana Henry and Thomas Keller (the two options I already own). Anybody want to share thoughts for and against? (I know that's what the nomination thread was for, but still....)

                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                      Just got Ad Hoc at Home from the library. Wow, that is a large book! I will spend some time looking at that one this weekend before I make up my mind. Unfortunately, my library doesn't have any Diana Henry books (very US centric, the cookbook section is) and I'm not sure I want to spring for it right at the moment.

                                      1. re: greeneggsnham

                                        genh, I'll be interested to hear what you think of Ad Hoc at Home. I agree w you, it's size alone is kind of intimidating. I hope to review it this weekend as well. My biggest issue is whether there are enough recipes in there that are weeknight friendly. On the weekends mr bc tends to enjoy a COTM-free experience...unless of course it's an Italian book. ; - )

                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                          I was able to spend a little bit of time with AHAH this weekend and I have mixed feelings. I think it would make a good COTM, but it's just not a great book for me at the moment. It is written with the home chef in mind, specifically, it's written for a home chef who has time and energy to devote to improving their skills. That's why I think it would be a good COTM. Unfortunately, I am more often the home chef madly trying to get something on the table after work so we don't all starve.

                                          There are some recipes that would be weeknight doable, provided there had been some advance planning and shopping. But a lot of the recipes to me seem like something I might make for an elegant dinner party rather than for family dinner. Much more butter and cream than I use regularly, and a much more refined feel than needed for our family dinners.

                                          That said, I would happily read along and participate when I could if it wins. And I have my eye on those ice cream sandwiches even if it doesn't win.

                                          1. re: greeneggsnham

                                            greeneggsnham, thank you for this. I was contemplating switching my vote over to AHAH because it appears Smitten Kitchen isn't going to win, but I don't think it would be a good fit for me personally either. Like you, most of my cooking is devoted to weeknights, with maybe one more involved meal on weekends. But since SO started a job where he's gone most weekdays, our weekends are usually jam packed with errands and events and seeing friends so I don't have the time then either to devote to involved recipes.

                                            1. re: greeneggsnham

                                              Yes, this is a funny sort of book...I found it a bit off-putting when I initially bought it (I am not as advanced a home cook as many of you) because of the seeming fussiness and precision, not to mention the huge size of it. But over time I've warmed to the book and don't have the same impression. I would think there would be a number of things you could make on a weeknight. Of course, my warming has only resulted in making a single recipe thus far (crispy braised chicken thighs with olives, lemon and fennel) -- but I've made it 2-3 times and all on weeknights (total time probably 45 minutes). He also has a couple of recipes that repurpose leftovers from his braised short ribs (beef stroganoff and Catalan beef stew). Some of the salads (including grain and bean salads), as well as the sides seem quite doable as well.

                                              That said, I'm not voting, since my track record on actually participating has been terrible. And I'd be torn between this and Samuelsson anyway. But I'll enjoy reading along with all of you no matter what way the voting goes!

                                              1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                I’m out of the country right now and won’t be back until early May so am neither nominating nor voting. But I did want to jump in here to say that your reasons for NOT leaning toward AHAH, greeneggsnham, are exactly the reasons I would vote for it if I were voting. I live alone, I don’t have to get a meal on the table, I no longer work a day job, I can cook whatever I want whenever I want whenever I feel like it. (Yes, I know. Poor me.) In my circumstances, there’s nothing I love more than a challenge, a learning experience. That’s exactly what I turn to COTM for.

                                                I know there have been previous discussions about just what it is we all look and hope for in a COTM selection. My hope is that our choices are balanced between those books that are mostly appropriate for weeknight, family dining and those that are more time intensive. I’d be very disappointed to see COTM tend only in one direction.

                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                  Joan, I appreciate your comments and I too, would hope COTM would not gravitate too far to one extreme or the other. And I know I really enjoy reading about the challenges that other COTMers tackle with living vicariously through them.

                                                  1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                    This is an interesting sub-thread: I agree with JoanN and greeneggs that what I like about my experience with COTMs (I think it's about two years now) is that there IS such a variety of books that go in different directions. We've had seasonal-type books, we've had books celebrating a certain type of cuisine, we've had weekend AND weeknight types of recipes made available, plus some really fascinating ethnic cookbooks. Occasionally I end up taking a month off, but I always know that there will be a month coming up that I can enjoy getting into. Somehow the nominating and voting process works out, thanks especially to the good work of the moderators.

                                                    1. re: Goblin

                                                      Absolutely agree. When Lulu was a baby, and I was a lot more tied down, some of the only new stuff I was getting to do in my life was trying to cook something new. And boy, did I, thanks to COTM. I made my first pastry, I made Vietnamese food, Chinese food (I *never* thought I'd be cooking stuff that tastes as authentic as this does/did), all sorts of things. And it gave me a feeling of accomplishment that some of the "easier" books don't. At the same time, I definitely understand and feel the need for there to be some recipes that are quick, easy and very good. I really really understand it. So I think changing things up from month to month is a great way to keep it.

                                                      1. re: Goblin

                                                        I'm trying to pick the book that has the food that I want in front of me on the plate. Regardless of time or technique required, rarity of ingredients or reputation of author. I figure if the recipes appeal to me, that's what matters.
                                                        The *used* book price is rarely a problem, and the penny books balance the $30 books. I do have a few square feet of *very* little-used ingredients stored away from past COTMs, but even those get use once in a while, serendipitous!
                                                        This is off-topic, but the new way we are voting (which is cool) might look like a simple survey to some -- are we getting clicks (votes) from casual passersby? I think that defeats the purpose? Or is it good exposure for COTM?

                                                        1. re: blue room

                                                          I do see votes from people who don't typically post in these threads, but maybe they have been reading and cooking along and not voting? I would love it if some of those folks eventually jumped in and post about their experiences with the books, the more the merrier!

                                                          ~TDQ

                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                            I know what you mean, but I'm thinking some voters think we're just asking "what's your choice for hottest book?", not "which book do you, a home cook, want to cook from this month?" The new format has mistakenly given a new meaning (the medium is the message) to the "election". Or maybe I'm haha all wet.. and full of olive vegetable!

                                                            1. re: blue room

                                                              Maybe those folks can vote on which of us is correct by recommending either your theory or mine...

                                                              ~TDQ

                                                            2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                              I've been waiting for the right book to get me into the whole COTM rhythm. So I vote for books I'd like to test run and hopefully soon enough I will write up my two cents as well.

                                                              1. re: Musie

                                                                Musie, I can completely relate. It took me a long time to finally take the COTM plunge. In my case, it was more about my insecurity about my cooking skills than the actual choices of books. All I can say is when I finally jumped in, my first thought was, "Oh, I wish I'd done this sooner!" When you're ready, I'm sure you'll be as hooked as the rest of us!

                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                1. re: Musie

                                                                  What TDQ said. We're pretty unjudgemental and friendly, and we love having new people join us. You'll have fun - I promise.

                                                                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                  I think the directions are pretty clear. I seldom participate due either to timing or not having the book.

                                                                  I do vote once in a while if I have the book - hence my vote this month.

                                                                  1. re: meatn3

                                                                    Thank you, meatn3 -- I don't think everyone understands that their votes materially affect other people. If you vote but your participation depends on which book wins -- nah, boo to that.

                                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                                      The flip side is that I often lurk and the enthusiasm which builds during the month often prompts me to eventually purchase a specific book.

                                                                      My budget lends itself to thrift store finds - which are very much happenstance! My new book purchases are few and far between.

                                                                      Do (this is to all the regular COTM contributors) remember that there are probably many people cooking along who don't get around to posting their experience for whatever reason.

                                                                      I think the contributors come off as a very friendly welcoming bunch. There is definite comradery in the threads but the posters keep it from feeling like a closed clique. But I could see a shy newbie being nervous about posting.

                                                                      1. re: blue room

                                                                        That's interesting. I voted this month, my choice didn't win, and I can't get the winning book through my library and it's not one I'm interested in owning. Does that mean I shouldn't have voted for a book I would have loved to have cooked through, because my participation depended only on whether my choice won?

                                                                        Also, for Jerusalem month, I purchased the book and read thorugh the threads, and even cooked a few recipes - but then got really busy and lacked the oomph to write up. That was a shame but I'm sure it happens regularly that those with good intentions can't keep up. Great book, though - no regrets about buying it.

                                                                        1. re: limoen

                                                                          You can still write up those recipes from Jerusalem! COTM threads are never closed. We keep adding to them, albeit at a slower pace, long after the designated month is over. This week I posted to the thread for a COTM that was over 2 years old. There have been months when, for reasons of work or travel, I didn't get to the book during the month, but I often get to it later, and post without regret.

                                                                          1. re: MelMM

                                                                            True, but there's an element of fun, interactivity and support during the actual month that's really lovely, hence why I lurk even when I have no interest in owning the book! As I imagine many do. Intrigued to see what everyone will make of Ad Hoc at Home

                                                                            1. re: limoen

                                                                              You might be surprised at how much fun, interactivity, and support there is on many of the older threads as well. Granted, a lot of that has to do with the fact that those of us who have participated for years, if not from the very beginning, have those threads pop up on our profile page as soon as someone has posted to them. It makes it much easier for us to keep track of new additions. But everyone is welcome to the party. Post to those threads and they’ll pop up for you, too.

                                                                          2. re: limoen

                                                                            I always really enjoy reading your posts limoen so if you have the time to add your reviews to the Jerusalem thread, I'll look forward to reading them!

                                                                            I've actually purchased most of the old COTM's since joining CH in Oct 2010 and I love cooking from those books because if I find a recipe I'm interested, I know I can check back to the COTM threads to see if anyone has made the dish before and then add my own impressions.

                                                                            I don't know if you're an EYB member but if so, I've found it helps to create a COTM-Historical bookmark and add in all the books folks have cooked from here. Often when I'm searching by ingredients I first limit my search to that Bookmark because there's a good chance someone else has made it.

                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                              I found EYB through chowhound. I think it was a post about organizing recipes or managing cookbooks; I can't recall for sure. I just remember being absolutely delighted It has truly changed the way I use my cookbooks.

                                                                              And now on this thread, I've discovered that I'm barely using it. I only use it for searching for recipes to match ingredients and mood. I never noticed the bookmark feature (I guess I'm slow). I am so excited to dive deeper into this great resource!

                                                                            2. re: limoen

                                                                              My scolding on this subject is a broken record, I'm sure some are tired of me. You said the magic words yourself, though -- "good intentions". It's the Golden Rule, I suppose.
                                                                              Twenty people say hey let's have a picnic!
                                                                              Twenty people say agreed, OK, yeah, a picnic!
                                                                              Freddie says let's bring cold fried chicken.
                                                                              Flossie says no, cold poached salmon.
                                                                              I say lets vote.
                                                                              Twenty people say okay, we'll vote.
                                                                              Cold poached salmon 12
                                                                              Cold fried chicken 8
                                                                              The fried chicken people say well, we aren't going on the picnic after all.
                                                                              Of *course* if something comes up and you can't make it, that's different!

                                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                                I think COTM is a little different than that... You're asking people to go to some amount of effort to acquire --perhaps even purchase-- a cookbook, then spend their precious time, money, and calories cooking, eating and serving-to-their families meals from said book off and on for an entire month.

                                                                                It's quite a commitment to ask of someone (and the rest of their household) who may not enjoy a particular cuisine or have access to or the budget for seasonal or high-end ingredients.

                                                                                I do always try to cook at least a couple of dishes from the chosen book each month, because I always learn something and am sometimes surprised, but I don't think anyone should feel bad taking a month off if the chosen book doesn't suit your tastes, dietary restrictions, or budget.

                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                  TDQ, your first sentence was
                                                                                  "I think COTM is a little different than that..."
                                                                                  My last sentence was
                                                                                  "Of *course* ... that's different!"
                                                                                  So we agree on that. *All sorts of things* make a difference.
                                                                                  I'm arguing the principle I guess.
                                                                                  You aren't right when you say I am asking people to make an effort, to commit to a certain book/cuisine. They themselves agreed to that. Agreed to participate when they voted, didn't they? Why else would you vote in a group decision? To go off and do your own thing?
                                                                                  My silly picnic example was not obtuse I hope.

                                                                                  1. re: blue room

                                                                                    So you feel that anyone who enters into a specific months vote is agreeing to participate regardless of which book is ultimately chosen? I'm not trying to put words in your month - just trying to be sure I am interpreting your post as you intended.

                                                                                    I can see a certain logic in that line of reasoning. But, speaking only for myself, I view the situation very differently.

                                                                                    Often the books up for vote vary by such wide degrees that I would be surprised if the majority of those voting would be content cooking from all of them. I look at the Dish of the Month in a similar vein. So far tacos, baklava, asparagus and spring rolls have been voted for along with many others. I wouldn't expect the passionate asparagus person to be equally as interested in baklava. If they are great but I would have no expectations of seeing them in that months resulting reports.

                                                                                    If a book I have voted for is not selected I very well may opt out of participating. It is not from being a poor sport - I either have no interest in that months book, don't have access to the book, or the recipes do not lend them self to the realities of my personal life at that time.

                                                                                    I will read along because I usually find the reports and discussions of interest and invariably learn from them. But I will do so silently since I have no hands on experience with the topic.

                                                                                    As one who does not have an extensive history of active participation in COTM I have to say that the expectation of full participation with the chosen book due to simply voting seems unrealistic. If that view point is held by the majority of COTMers then I think many of us considering will opt to stay silent onlookers. I just don't commit unless I am sure of what I am committing to. I would never commit to COTM without knowing which cookbook it was...

                                                                                    1. re: meatn3

                                                                                      Well, I for one, feel differently. I try to participate even if the book I voted for was not chosen. But when a book is chosen that I have no interest in, and do not own, I feel no obligation to participate. This doesn't happen often, but it does happen. I do make an effort to get the book from the library, just to see if there is anything that appeals to me. But if not? I just do not participate for that month. I think the last time I did not participate at all, was when we did Homesick Texan. I did check the book out of the library, but it did not appeal at all.
                                                                                      I think that if we encourage people to participate when they have, or like, the book, and not "enforce" participation (not that anyone is suggesting enforced participation) when they do not have an interest, then we will build a stronger, broader community here.

                                                                                      1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                        Agree completely that a stronger, broader community is the best end result!

                                                                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                          I agree with you L.Nightshade. I don't have this month's book and can't get a cheapish copy, but I will probably try an online recipe or two.

                                                                                        2. re: meatn3

                                                                                          Here's how it works: Toward the beginning of a given month, the organizer posts a thread inviting suggestions for the next month's cookbook and members chime in with their suggestions. The organizer gathers those responses and there's a vote amongst the most popular suggestions. Once a winner is determined, an announcement goes up so people have some time to buy or borrow the book from the library before the new month starts. For those who can't get the book itself, there are often some recipes available online.

                                                                                          Ok ok I'll unruffle my feathers!

                                                                                          1. re: blue room

                                                                                            Thanks for the additional clarification!

                                                                                            Since I am a 98% lurker on COTM I don't even think of participating in the nomination threads. But I am always very excited when I have access to one of the books up for the final vote.

                                                                                            I have attempted obtaining the book from the library. Many of the titles were only available through inter-library loan. Once I was successful, but the book arrived two weeks into the next month. I scanned the recipes that appealed, but the power of the group momentum was gone...

                                                                                            Which brings me to what makes COTM so amazing and keeps me reading faithfully even if I have no interest in the cookbook that month: Somehow this series of threads has captured the best of Chowhound. The passion, curiosity, willingness to share flavor every post. It is wonderful seeing cooks develop new skills and watch the friendships develop. Even our differing views are handled with respect and tact and a desire for peaceful understanding. Could you imagine how quickly this conversation would have turned ugly on NAF?

                                                                                            I look forward to following the journey in the coming month!

                                                                                        3. re: blue room

                                                                                          I'm sorry my dearest blue room, but I don't believe that simply by casting a vote, people are inherently agreeing to participate in ANY book that wins.

                                                                                          What if you're a vegetarian and Fish Without a Doubt wins?

                                                                                          What if you live in Minnesota (where the first killing freeze was in mid-October and the ground remains frozen solid until the end of March) and a book that is heavily reliant on fresh produce wins for April?*

                                                                                          What if your spouse absolutely cannot countenance Indian food and 660 Curries wins?

                                                                                          What if Breakfast, Lunch and Tea wins and the only way to get ahold of the book is to buy it and you're on a strict budget?

                                                                                          Are you saying that if any of these kinds of books you don't want to cook from is a finalist in the voting round alongside a book in which you are very interested, you must abstain from voting if one of the finalists is an absolute nonstarter for you?

                                                                                          I respectfully disagree. I think if you nominate and/or vote for a book that goes on to win, you should make every effort to cook from it. I think if a book you are not interested in wins, you ought to consider cooking from it because you might learn something as I nearly always do, but I don't think you are obligated.

                                                                                          I will say that another reason it took me so long to try COTM is because of the strong suggestion that used to accompany the voting threads "If you vote for it, you must cook from it" (I'm paraphrasing of course). I was very uncertain of my cooking skills back then. I was worried that I might not be able to go the distance with even a book I was very interested in. So I didn't vote, and therefore didn't feel engaged and/or a true part of the process, and therefore didn't participate.

                                                                                          Just as I feel people should feel welcome to wander into COTM at any point during the month, I feel they should feel free to wander away at any time. COTM, and Chowhound in general, is supposed to be fun, and if you're not having fun, take a break.

                                                                                          These days, if I think there is a very strong possibility I will be able to cook from the winner, I nominate and vote, otherwise I abstain, although I do participate in the discussion. I often cook along and don't post my experiences if a half a dozen people have made a recipe and I have nothing to add other than "me too!"

                                                                                          Also, I'm afraid don't understand your picnic analogy, either its parallel to COTM or its general logic. Why do 20 people have to share only dish? Have it be a potluck and everyone bring their own with enough to share and enjoy the spice of life.

                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                          * I'll admit, I'm already nervous about AHaH's apparent heavy reliance on "seasonal" recipes http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8943... Any fresh produce in MN in April is going to have to come from afar. Late April and early May are the worst for produce here as any fresh local produce that you overwintered (apples and squash and root vegetables) are pretty soft and hideous, and nothing can even be planted, let alone grow and be harvested, until the ground thaws, except in a hot house, which I don't support. April is my "rely on frozen vegetables" month, which is not so Thomas Keller-y.

                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                            TDQ, my *only* quarrel is with those who decide ahead of time that they won't participate if their book doesn't win!

                                                                                            Of course you are right, there are all sorts of things that would limit participation.

                                                                                            1. re: blue room

                                                                                              When we've done bbq books I know that there are some who haven't been able to participate because they live in cities and don't have a place to bbq. And for me, a book that is all about meat is going to sit untouched since we mostly don't eat red meat in our house. So obviously I won't vote for those books, and eating out of them would be pretty near undoable. So we have to keep in mind that people may have different reasons holding them back.

                                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                One thing I'd like to add to this discussion is that I think "participation" can take many forms and all is welcome in my view.

                                                                                                Even if folks don't have the book and are reading along w the threads, I'd highly encourage them to pop in and leave a note commenting on a dish that appeals or to ask a question.

                                                                                                I also love it when someone with subject matter expertise shares tips with us. This month's COTM is a great example. The posts from members who have taken the time to explain different Chinese ingredients or cooking techniques are just as valuable to me as the reviews...and I'm cooking more authentic dishes as a result.

                                                                                                I don't think we could ever have too many cooks in our COTM kitchen and I really hope folks will participate in the threads whether or not they are cooking from the book. I know when I post about a dish I'm always happy to answer a question, learn a tip or hear from someone who has or would do the dish differently or, even just rec'v a word of encouragement. It all enhances the cooking experience!!

                                                                                              2. re: blue room

                                                                                                You know, I kind of understand where you're coming from. I'm not trying to put words in your mouth, but it seems to me that you think of COTM as its own little community within the broader community of Home Cooking and even broader community of Chowhound. And I do, too, actually.

                                                                                                So, I get what I think you're saying that as a citizen of COTM, it's not very nice to never cook unless your book wins. I kind of agree that it might make make one seem like a bad sport or a bad citizen or whatever.

                                                                                                But, I don't think everyone necessarily thinks of COTM as its own little community. I guess I view those folks sort of as passersby or guests. The community hosts them graciously and hopefully they contribute something along the way.

                                                                                                But I also understand and forgiving of real life constraints. Time/money/personal preferences/and calories are real. If people just want to cook from particular books and stay away otherwise, if they don't really see themselves as a citizen of COTM, I can totally respect that.

                                                                                                I think if we leave the welcome mat out, we'll hook all of those people because, afterall, they love cookbooks and they love food.

                                                                                                I hope this makes sense and that I've understood you correctly.

                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                  I'm finding this discussion very interesting. I am someone who lurked on CH for quite a long time before one book finally drew me in and made me want to actually participate (660 Curries). I felt welcomed by the "little community" and it encouraged me to continue participating.

                                                                                                  This month when I saw that EGOR had won I decided not to participate, even though there are dishes online that I could make, and even though I did take part in nominating and voting. I didn't step back out of pettiness because "my book" didn't win; on this particular month it just felt easier to not participate. I know that in time my library will acquire the book & I'll enjoy reading through the discussions and letting your comments guide my cooking choices from EGOR.

                                                                                                  Now your comments have me re-thinking my behaviour. Should I not have voted for Burma last month, knowing as i did that EGOR was a very popular option which would likely win and that I would be very unlikely to participate if it won?

                                                                                                  1. re: geekmom

                                                                                                    If you wanted Burma to win, and would have cooked from it, then you did the right thing to my mind!

                                                                                                    1. re: geekmom

                                                                                                      geekmom please continue to nominate, vote and participate in a way that makes sense for you!! I think that's all we can ask of folks. The more the merrier and I'm enjoying your contributions.

                                                                                                      All the excitement over Burma made me move it into my kitchen and start flagging recipes!!

                                                                                                      1. re: geekmom

                                                                                                        I think everyone should participate as life permits. Vote your passion and out of a sincere wish to cook with all of us from the book you vote for and all will be well.

                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                          And, if my repsonse above was too cryptic, the answer is no, I see nothing wrong at all with you having voted for Burma.

                                                                                                          I think Burma will definitely have its day, by the way. I think it's just a matter of when.

                                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                                      2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                        I think that is very well put TDQ. I can see that this discussion has sparked some passionate responses, which is a good thing, since it shows how much people care about COTM.

                                                                                                        The reference to a community is a very apt one. Even if participants have an attachment to the COTM community they won't necessarily always approach the community the same way. I have held back on commenting here because in the 8 months or so that I have been participating I skipped participation in some months because I had no interest in the book that won. I never thought of it from the perspective held by some of the contributors here, I never once felt that perhaps my approach was unfair or not "community minded". I still don't believe that is the case but I better understand how some of you might perceive my type of approach.

                                                                                                        I must admit that for me cooking, and by extension COTM, are not only a hobby but a daily reality of survival. I need to feed myself and my partner and I choose to do it in a way that is most rewarding to my family. For me that means participating in COTM whenever I can, but because of the constraints of life and the fact I wish to enjoy my hobby I have only participated when I have been enthused by the selection. This month I was super charged about Soul of a New Cuisine, but TK just doesn't do it for me. I may very well do a few online recipes and lurk about the threads, but if the month is a busy one (which it likely will be with wedding planning) I may not.

                                                                                                        Community involvement is often a choice, and that is how I see COTM.

                                                                                                        After all of the above comments however I do think I will be more mindful of other opinions on the subject in the future.

                                                                                                      3. re: blue room

                                                                                                        blue room, that has been the case for me in both January and March. I knew that I wouldn't be able to get the required ingredients (due to both money and time restraints), so I knew I wouldn't participate if the books that won, won. Even this month, I don't have the extra money to buy Ad Hoc at Home (my original vote was for Smitten Kitchen so I could just use her blog, which is free!). I switched my vote to Soul of a New Cuisine because honestly, that sounded interesting and even if I couldn't participate I wanted to read about it. When I originally voted though, I did plan on buying the book, but just in the last few days some unexpected expenses have come up.... so even if it did end up winning, I wouldn't have gotten to participate anyway.

                                                                                                        This next month, I'm just going to try to use some of the web links people have provided for Thomas Keller recipes... but even then my participation will rely on how much time and money I have to buy ingredients I wouldn't normally buy, and if I have enough free time on weekends to devote to the recipes. I work full time from 9-6 and have an hour commute each way, so I rarely start dinner until 730 or even 8... cooking for another 2 hours on weeknights is not an option for me, and often we are doing other things on weekends, especially now that my SO travels often during the week. So while a book like Ad Hoc at Home sounds very interesting to me, my current lifestyle doesn't lend itself to long kitchen experiments. But like I said, a few of the web links are for things I can probably swing, so I'm going to do my best to try them.

                                                                                                        1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                          Julie, don't forget that it isn't just AHaH month, but Thomas Keller month. I highly recommend this Thomas Keller recipe. It is very diet and budget friendly. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                                                                          I make it in advance either on the weekend, at night after the current night's dinner, or in the morning before getting ready for work.

                                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                            Thanks! Roast chicken always pleases me.... so easy too, I don't know why I don't do it more often.

                                                                                                            Edit to add... one of the dishes I will be attempting to make is the Tarragon Chicken that was linked to, it looks pretty doable for a weeknight.

                                                                                                            1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                              Agreed! If you can take a few minutes in the morning to coat the chicken breasts in paprika & curry powder, it'll be even better, but the Serious Eats reviewer didn't do that step and still raved.

                                                                                                              I'm going to be making that this week because my local-foods market had fresh tarragon, to my amazement.

                                                                                                              Another approachable dish is the crispy braised chicken thighs w olives, lemon & fennel. It's a braise (finished with a broil), that can be cut in half for a family meal. The method's very similar to a Tyler Florence chicken with fennel dish that I've made for years (which makes me think that Keller's oven cooking time is at least ten minutes too short, unless the initial skin-side-down frying of the chicken goes the full ten minutes). Will report early in April...

                                                                                                              1. re: ellabee

                                                                                                                I didn't really find that chicken with tarragon dish calling my name (but maybe I will after one of you posts about it), but that crispy braised chicken thighs actually sounds pretty good to me.

                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                            2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                              I can remember about 13 or 14 years ago I found out that I had to have extensive dental work that was going to cost (even with really good dental insurance!) a fourth of my yearly take-home pay. I ended up living on $40 a week, aside from rent. I walked to and from work each day. So I had to be verrrry careful with my food budget. Everyone has unexpected things come up in life. We all understand, I think (I think I accidentally answered TDQ on this, I meant to answer JJ - sorry!).

                                                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                Yeah I feel like here on Chow sometimes people don't understand what it's like to be on a pretty tight budget. But, glad to see some people understand :) It won't be like this forever for me so I at least like to live vicariously when I cannot participate myself, that way someday when I do have the extra funds, I can create whatever I like!

                                                                                                              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                Thank you for posting this recipe, TDQ! Kind of similar to Zuni's in approach but without advanced prep. I'll to remember to use this technique when I have a friend(s) for dinner. For myself, I usually split chicken into two halves, freeze one for future, put back and wing tips into "for soup" freezer bag and roast remaining half usually on a bed of onions and garlic with generous sprinkling of S&P at high heat.

                                                                                                        2. re: blue room

                                                                                                          I voted for the March COTM but didn't participate when Every Grain of Rice won. Why would I when I'm not interested in cooking Chinese food?

                                                                                                          1. re: Njchicaa

                                                                                                            Now I *am* feeling stung --

                                                                                                            this is why you would participate:

                                                                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8943...

                                                                                                            1. re: blue room

                                                                                                              The thread you linked to is the announcement that April's COTM is Ad Hoc at Home, and Njchicaa saying she's excited to participate and just received her copy of the book. Njchicaa was saying above she voted in March's, but didn't have any interest in the book that won (Every Grain of Rice), for March. They're not related, so I'm not sure why you're upset by that?

                                                                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                I think you are talking about different months, no?

                                                                                                                1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                  Don't feel stung! You are our dear blue room, member of the former COTM coordinator Hall of Fame. We are always interested in your perspective!

                                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                                  1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                    Please don't feel so!

                                                                                                                    While we may not always agree, your pov gave me a chance to view the situation in a new way - always a worthwhile exercise imo.
                                                                                                                    And lively debate helps work up an appetite!

                                                                                                                    (Raising a glass) To blue room! Cheers!

                                                                                                            2. re: limoen

                                                                                                              I think we've all had those months when we had the best intentions to cook from the book and then life happened.

                                                                                                  2. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                                    Same here, I didn't mean to say that I want EVERY COTM to be the style of cooking I do...I definitely know that wouldn't be challenging enough for most! I really enjoy reading and learning from the threads of all of them, even if I'm not participating.