Why Google Can Never Replace My Cookbooks

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  • By Mari McCullough
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Why Google Can Never Replace My Cookbooks

Google is great, but my first love will always be my cookbooks.

When I have ingredients on hand and no idea what to do with them, I have my favorite websites to search. The "save" feature on Facebook is fantastic and my friends are so happy I learned how to use it.  Now I don't "share" recipes all the time just so they end up on my timeline for future reference.


With its click-of-a-button convenience, in-depth videos, and extreme portability (who doesn't have an internet machine in their pocket these days?) the web has its advantages for sure. But what I really enjoy is paging through a cookbook, and I don't think that will ever change.


Today's cookbooks certainly aren't your mother's Betty Crocker anymore. They are well written, gorgeously photographed, carefully curated collections. These new cookbooks with beautiful photographs are inspiring. If you ask me, even books without pictures (that have seen a few years) are beautiful, because of the memories and the space they hold in your heart. 


I have my own collection of cookbooks - not so carefully curated, but randomly inspired; depending on my interest or phase at the time of purchase, including several new ones in the paleo genre. (I'm in the exploration phase of paleo.) Canning is a passion of mine. Some were gifts. Some are so worn they are held together with rubber bands (Jane Brody's Good Food Book, original 1980 edition). Some from past seasons in life (Colorado Cache from our time living in Denver). Collecting church cookbooks was a phase because people were trying to sell them to me and it was easier that way. I have my grandmother's St. Joseph's Parish cookbook from 1956. The handwriting in the margins is distinctly hers and brings a smile to my face every time.


Currently, one of my favorite cookbooks is Sara Moulton's Home Cooking 101. I was lucky enough to meet her and be her sous chef for a class. She is very approachable and fun. During our dinner the evening before the class she "dished" on as many chefs as we could ask about. My lips are sealed.


This book offers great information and tips for the beginner cook from how to set up a kitchen to grocery shopping to cooking. Then comes the food preparation. I've been cooking for some years (see reference above to Jane Brody) and found information I could use immediately. The recipes are for the home chef and for the busy person. She includes photographs of techniques as well as prepared dishes.


One of Sara's 10 basics of home cooking is, "Dispense with Mise en Place." Which means everything in its place - precutting, mincing, slicing, etc. before starting, like you see on the Food Channel with the prep bowls filled and ready to dump. Instead, her advice is to plan ahead and take advantage of cooking times. In the recipe I made, Baked Chicken Thighs, I did my prep work while the chicken was browning.  Since they were done in 2 batches I held them in my lid turned upside down. You can see the chicken done, pancetta browning and my chopping, mincing...done and waiting to go into the pan.



The final product, in the one pan used for the dish. You can see I favor cast iron which goes from stove to oven to table. It took a bit over an hour prep, cook and rest. And I was able to follow my adage of cook once - eat 2 or 3 times. I took a meal to a gluten-free friend and had lunches for 2 days at work.


Thanks for the inspiration Sara.



To conclude, I appreciate the internet. It's fun to save and share recipes on Facebook and to watch those trendy recipe videos, but good, solid, cookbooks will always hold a place in my heart and on my shelf.  


  1. Jamie Jamie

    I'll always cherish my cookbook collections. Many of them have things written in the margins from generations ago. <3 Google is great for finding new recipes, but it's also great to have a collection of family favorites.

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