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Cookbooks: which ones are showing their age?

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Do you have one cookbook that has been used so much it is falling apart and possibly held together with tape?

Does it automatically open to your favorite pages, because you have pushed on the binding too ahrd too many times?

Are the pages stained with drops of now unidentifiable food?

So what book in your collection does this describe?

For me it is the New Basics, though I don't use it as much any more, for a while it was my favorite (ok my only!) cookbook and it tends to open to page 746, the lemon shortbread recipe.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"


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For me it is the New Basics, though I don't use it as much any more, for a while it was my favorite (ok my only!) cookbook and it tends to open to page 746, the lemon shortbread recipe.

I have the book. It is marked with fortyleven sticky notes and yet I don't think I have made a single recipe from it - a sign of how utterly unfocussed I am! But .... it now has a new sticky note on page 746! Hmmmmmmmmmmm....

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I have my Grandma's "White House Cook Book" published in 1911. The pages are brittle and brown, the spine broken...It has great photos and many recipes for pigeons, squirrels, and "mock" ice. It has months worth of menu plans: a Monday Luncheon: Sliced Head Cheese, Bread Omelet, Parsnip Fritters, Cold Slaw Graham Bread, Mince Pie, and Tea. It also includes many home remedies for the sick including poultices, a section entitled "How to Use Hot Water", and one recipe that "is worth ten times the price of this book to any female requiring the need of these regulating pills." Other "toilet" recipes include how to make soap, antidotes for arsenic and opium, and great tips on etiquette. I forget how much I love this book.

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the paperback edition of fanny farmer...

actually found another copy at a used bookstore and took it to our local book bindry so it stays in (relatively) pristine condition

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.


Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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Rose Levy Beranbaum's "The Cake Bible" - the most food stained book in my collection.

Bernard Clayton's "The Complete Book of Pastry" - A whole section of pages is falling out. Thanks to heyjude for finding me a new hardbound copy! :biggrin:

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Zarela Martinez' "Food From My Heart". I take pretty good care of my books so I am going by the number of Post-It tags hanging out. As we speak (er... type), I am making a batch of the Chiapas style marinade for a big piece of pig leg to cook tomorrow.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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The only one of mine to fall apart -- other than, yes, the paperback of Fannie Farmer that I bought in about 1967 -- is Barbara Kafka's Microwave Gourmet. Not, I hasten to add, because I use it so much. It's just cheaply bound. :angry:

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I have my grandmother's 1961 1st ed. of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1 and 2. Vol. 1 is following apart, but opens easily to the recipe for soufflee grand marnier--my grandfather's speciality. Also, there are a few crayon scribbles in it from my sister when she was a child.

I still cook from it frequently-- but it is falling apart.

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I lost the cover to my French Laundry cookbook back in 2001. I've referenced it many a time on the hot line, with greasy, flour caked fingers. There are conversions, notes and proudly the author's signature within the pages. The names, addresses and phone numbers of every chef I admire are plastered all over the first two pages. Back before I got this gig I spent an entire spring trying to get a stage gig with the likes of N. Van Aken, Trotter, Keller, Mark Millitello (did a SOS dinner as his prep bitch), and Boulud. TFL Cookbook was my note pad.

Now a picture of my mother is tucked into the Guinea Hen en Crepinette de Byaldi page. Keller saw the pic when he was signing it and commented.

When Laura C. saw my book she said..."Wow...look at that thing. Good thing we like em banged up." I was righteously relieved.

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Gordon Ramsay's Passion for flavour lost its spine a while back - victim of particularly severe reffing because of its useful range of "building block" recipes which can be used elsewhere

Front and back covers of my paperback larousse also fell off a while back on account of constant browsing (the spine of the hardcover version also gone, although due to genuine abuse rather than overuse)



More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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I've re-built my 1970 The James Beard Cookbook several times, along with the Volume I of Julia Child's Mastering. My Pepin La Technique isn't that beat up, but is missing a corner eaten by our much-loved and long-gone Golden Retriever...

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The Complete Greek CookBook by Theresa Yianilos is by far my most worn, used, and loved cookbook in my entire collection. It has special significance in my life in that my Grandmother gave it to me on a trip my family made to see her about 7 years ago. My Grandmother is the person that ignited the passion in me to not only cook, but do it as a profession. I reference that book many times in that what dish can go wrong that has lemon, the best extra-virgin olive oil, and feta cheese in it?

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The Complete Greek CookBook by Theresa Yianilos is by far my most worn, used, and loved cookbook in my entire collection.  It has special significance in my life in that my Grandmother gave it to me on a trip my family made to see her about 7 years ago.  My Grandmother is the person that ignited the passion in me to not only cook, but do it as a profession.  I reference that book many times in that what dish can go wrong that has lemon, the best extra-virgin olive oil, and feta cheese in it?

Sun Grease,

welcome to egullet and what a wonderful post!

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"


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Edmonds Cookery Book, the stalwart in any New Zealander's kitchen. Been about since 1907, unlike me :biggrin:

Leads one to a perfect pavlova, scrumptious scones and a kickass custard...oh and lest I forget and get in loads of trouble....the Christmas fruitcake recipe with royal icing you can stand on! Don't try that last recipe unless your packing a kitchenaide or stronger steel as the mixer will go kerplunk kerplak kablooey. The thoughtful folks at the sure rise baking powder joint also remember to include every chart known to man for conversions, cooking temperatures, etc.

Have been fighting over the only stateside copy in our family for years and it shows the battlescars...need to remedy this soon as else we will be mailing the silly thing back and forth in the post.

- Weka

"Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least."

- Goethe

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Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking

Sue Paston-Williams The National Trust Book of Christmas and Festive Recipes is falling apart, but I think that is because it wasn't bound well originally

The Servant Maid's Companion (1658) was in bad condition when I acquired it.

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Diana Kennedy, The Art of Mexican Cooking

My copy of this is in crap condition as well.

Has anyone noticed a tendancy of bindings on hardcovers published in the last 5-7 years to be really weak?

I got both this Kennedy book for Christmas 2001 and a Bayless book for Chrismas 2002, and both of the bindings came loose within 2 months with very liberal/careful use.

I've also seen reports that the binding on Thompson's 'Thai Food' is shitty too.

Is there any noticeable trend?

I'm not sure, personally I don't buy many books new - most I get used on eBay...the two I mentioned above were the only 'new' books I own - and also the only cookbooks I have where the binding is shot.

...I thought I had an appetite for destruction but all I wanted was a club sandwich.

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