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Eat Your Books and home cooking

I just signed up on membership-
I thought it was about time that I start to catalogue my books so it i will be easier to find recipes.
This will keep me busy for sometime-

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    1. Eat Your Books really changed how I use my cookbooks. It is an absolutely terrific resource.

      1. I've been a member for a few months and I haven't gotten into a groove yet to make it a useful resource. Can you share pointers on how you use EYB?

        7 Replies
          1. re: pagesinthesun

            Here is how I use it: I know the 10 or 12 ingredients I am most likely to have around or buy and then think, "what I am going to do with this xxx?" Things like kale, chard, chickpeas, lentils, cod (I have a fish share that gives me random fish every week but most often it is cod or something closely related), pork tenderloin, etc. I spent a bit of time putting each of these ingredients into EYB and pulling up all the many recipes EYB found in cookbooks I own using those ingredients, then looking at the recipes to see if I would ever make them. If I would, then I bookmarked that recipe as kale, cod or whatever in EYB. It sounds like a pain but it was a fun project and I only did it for those ingredients I habitually have around. So now when I get the email telling me it's cod this week (or those exciting weeks when it is monkfish instead!) I can go right to EYB, pull up all my bookmarked cod (or monkfish!) recipes, and see which I want to use and what I might have to pick up on my way home. I found and have loved recipes I would never have known to look for using EYB that way, in cookbooks I would never have thought to look in for that purpose. I am sure that others will chime in and I will learn from them but that has been a very satisfying use for me. Oh and a secondary use: when the DOTM is something I am interested in I use EYB to see what recipes I might have for it, meaning I have bookmarked all the meatball, pot pie and spring roll recipes that appealed to me in my cookbooks, again discovering them in unexpected places.

            1. re: GretchenS

              I use it very similarly to look for ways to use my CSA veggies. I also use it when I have ingredients I need to use before they spoil. I find it mostly useful for these ingredient-based type searches. Over time, I've also played with the bookmarks feature to try to create groups of similar books, usually indicating the time/effort I have found most of a book's recipes to need ("Weeknight" vs. "Weekend projects"). If I'm following along with COTM, I add that book then search for recipes that use the veggies and that appear in COTM. This has really upped my participation in COTM since the CSA steers my food choices most of the year.

              1. re: GretchenS

                Well, thanks Gretchen, I guess I know what I'm doing Monday now!

              2. re: pagesinthesun

                Also been a member for a long time without ever having used it. I'm not sure I understand the basic idea (probably because I haven't spent enough time reading about it).

                I'm wondering how to start: do you go gather up your existing cookbooks (I have hundreds) and start entering them into EYBs? I guess even that sounds like a monumental task, but I don't get nearly enough use out of my cookbooks so I can see it would be worth the initial effort.

                1. re: Transplant_DK

                  Exactly, you start by putting all your cookbooks in. If you have that many, you could start with just a couple dozen and see how it works.

                  1. re: GretchenS

                    You don't have to do a massive amount of typing anything in, either -- you can quickly find the cookbook in the Library (by author or title) and click to add it to your Bookshelf, or you can enter the ISBN #s of a bunch at once.

                    Try entering five cookbooks that you have used a lot, and five that you haven't but would like to, and use those to get familiar with what EYB can do for you. My guess is that soon you'll be eagerly entering many more of your holdings. Have fun with it!

              3. Not a day goes by that I don't go to EYB. I look for recipes containing ingredients I want to use, to catalog the COTMs I own, to plan menus, to review books I might like to buy... It's a definite asset to my culinary experience.

                1. I joined even though I don't have many cookbooks (less than 2 dozen, but I buy a new one every month or two). I cook mostly from online recipes, and one thing I miss about that when I use cookbooks is the "reviews" for the recipes. So, on EYB I really enjoy when people write reviews for recipes. I commented in the May COTM thread that I liked Breadcrumbs reviews of Mexican Everyday on there, because it kept me from making something too spicy. So, I enjoy EYB for that aspect.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: juliejulez

                    Did you know you can use the EYB Bookmarklet tool to add online recipes to your bookshelf?

                    You can get this from the EYB home page. It adds a button to your browser toolbar and when you are viewing an online recipe you want to save, you click it to open an EYB window.

                    Depending on the web site, EYB can read in necessary data about the recipe (title, photo, ingredient list) or just gets the link and you can add the details yourself. Once you save it, it shows up in your recipe searches, just like cookbook recipes.

                    1. re: pamf

                      No, I will have to try that out. I keep my online recipes organized on Pinterest, indexed by "type" ie chicken, pork, sides, etc but it would e nice to be able to have a way to search them by ingredients other than the main one.

                      1. re: pamf

                        I finally joined, and this tip will be invaluable!!!

                    2. Congratulations!

                      Eat Your Books has been the biggest step forward in my cooking ever, and I thank chowhounds for alerting me to its existence. I joined back in the summer of 2010.

                      First off, it got me to assemble, dust off, and organize the cookbooks here -- a combination of my parents' books from the 1940s through the 1980s, and my cookbooks from early 1970s onward. That made the membership worth it right there, but it was only the beginning.

                      Like GretchenS, I have recipes organized by major ingredients that I get regularly or seasonally (pork shoulder, fresh chiles/peppers, beets), or that's on hand & needs to be used up while still good (saffron, preserved lemon, creme fraiche). Those keep growing and getting refined as great ingredients become available.

                      Another super-useful grouping is recipes for a given type of dish (cornbread, souffle, plum cake, slaw), which allows me quickly to get out the books that have those and settle on a (usually hybrid) version.

                      I have about 80 cookbooks in the house. My EYB bookshelf looks a lot bigger because I have Bookmarks (categories) like 'library' (available at our local), wishlists like 'cuisines' (Greek, Chinese, Moroccan, etc.cookbooks), 'preserving' (charcuterie, fermenting, skills), 'home/seasonal' (general cookbooks that fit my style of cooking), and 'reading'.

                      Since joining, I've cooked from my books roughly ten times as much as before. In theory, this could lead to cutting down on cookbook buying. In practice, particularly if you follow the recent notes by members on recipes and start studying members' bookshelves, it does not.

                      Have fun! Entering the books is satisfying and goes pretty quickly. Virtually all of the books here that I'm likely to use have been indexed, hope that turns out to be so for you, too.

                      1. I always think it would be useful if there was an indication of how long a recipe takes to make (e.g. four hours cooking), as I can see the resource being useful when, say, planning what to cook at work. No use picking up the ingredients to find, upon arriving home, that it takes four hours to make. But obviously that's a very bounded and specific need based purely on my preferences. I wonder if it would be useful to others, though.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: limoen

                          It isn't possible without access to the recipe to know whether it takes half an hour or four, but there is in fact a standard for indexers that there should be a Note to alert you to any significant advance prep (marinating overnight, e.g.).

                          The Occasion category 'Cooking ahead' is another negative flag for same-day meal planning.

                          Conversely, there's also a Recipe Type of 'Quick / Easy', but it's assigned only when the author specifically cites it as such. Could still be a help, though, when you're searching at work.

                        2. I just signed up too. I plan my meals 2 weeks at a time, so I figured it would make life easier.

                          1. So, I'm been trying to stick to a budget more lately so I used a myriad of resources as follows:

                            1. Check online grocery store ads to see what's on sale this week.
                            2. Based on what's a good deal, run key ingredients search in EYB, sometimes just for current COTM, other times for my entire cookbook collection. Choose recipes.
                            3. Do an online search for the recipe (if EYB hasn't already linked to it)
                            4. Import chosen recipes to Pepperplate, then add them to my weekly Pepperplate planner and grocery list in Pepperplate. Print out recipes and grocery list.

                            The funny thing is, I'm having a lot more luck with meal planning this way (compared to in the past) because starting with grocery store specials sort of narrows what is otherwise a wide-open field for me.


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              Great news, TDQ! Happy to hear that this system is working for you :)

                            2. I'm also enamoured with EYB. In addition to all the comments below I also use it to make my recipe notations. Once I try something new I'm very religious about making sure I make notes on it in EYB. This of course is for my benefit, but also to the benefit of others I would hope.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: delys77

                                It is indeed. Your notes on EYB have been very useful to me.

                                1. re: smtucker

                                  Aw, thanks very much smtucker. That's great to know.

                              2. Here's a tip I just figured out on EYB:

                                I'm not a fan of E-reader cookbooks, at all! But, I'm doing a home renovation this summer and don't have space to buy/store more cookbooks at the moment. There have been a few cookbooks that I haven't been able to resist, so I've given in an bought them for my Kindle. I think what I hate about e-reader cookbooks is that it's difficult to read either the table of contents and/or the index (one doesn't even link to the recipe from the index). Enter EYB! I have book-shelved these books and it makes it easier to see what recipe are available for me to use. So much easier than flipping through the Kindle. Yeah!

                                1. I really wish I had signed up for the lifetime membership awhile back. :-(

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                    Many of us did in the early days, Linda. And, I must say it's a pleasure not to think about renewals.

                                    1. re: Gio

                                      I know Gio. I knew about it back then. Just never did anything with it. Sadz. :-(

                                  2. You know I've been an on and off member for quite awhile but only recently started using it to it's full potential. It's really helped me find some great recipes in cookbooks I might not otherwise have looked in.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: rasputina

                                      Never a day goes by when I don't consult EYB for something. It's a tremendous resource!