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Berlinsbreads

Huge Beautiful Cookbooks

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I just received my copy of Bouchon by Thomas Keller today and was browsing through it. I love the book's concept (French Bistro basics taken to precision), the looks of the recipes as well as how beautiful this cookbook is. My one complaint, however, is that I am finding more and more of these cookbooks that are so beautiful that they fit more into the 'coffee table book' category which makes me wonder, are they for actual use? The other one that I recently bought was Home Baking by some of my favorite cookbook authors, Jefferey Alford and Naomi Duguid, and it falls into that same category----beautiful and HUGE. When I say HUGE I mean not only thick but plain old big all around. I love the pictures, though they also make me leery of getting flour or mishaps near them to avoid soiling their beauty. In my obsessiveness about my cookbooks, I almost feel like copying their recipes into my own book to preserve them. Does anyone else feel this way? Is this the wave of the future for cookbooks? I personally love them and hate them at the same time! :hmmm:

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I have a huge collection of cookbooks and many of them are HUGE. My favorite is the one written by Salvador Dali (the recipes are actually from the chefs and restaurants where he ate). Because the book is rare and expensive (and HUGE), when I first got the book I began a practice that continues to this day and preserves the integrity of the bindings and pages: I photocopy the recipes I actually wish to cook and place them in clear sheet protectors. I can then add notes to the sheet and I keep them in three-ring binders (which lie open easier). The plastic sheets also protects them from the occasional spill and I have a fabulous collection from which I have cooked over the years.

Oh yeah, and I do this with magazine recipes as well -- easier than keeping the whole bloody magazine!

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Okay, thanks, that idea makes sense... I'm glad we just bought one of those copier/printer machines---I'll just copy the recipes. Like I said, I love 'em and hate 'em at the same time! :wacko:

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Oh yeah, and I do this with magazine recipes as well -- easier than keeping the whole bloody magazine!

I thought of doing this with my magazines. However, it often happens that I browse through an old magazine and suddenly a recipe appeals to me, one that I never gave a second glance before! This way I use my magazines for years and they somehow seem 'new' to me every time.

Same with cookbooks. They can speak a whole new language when you haven't looked at them for a while.

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One of my friends had a great suggestion over brunch just this morning. I was telling him about the new English edition of the Ducasse "Grand Livre". It's a lovely book, but I find that I have to sit in a chair with the book in my lap to read it. It's so heavy that holding it up becomes uncomfortable. It's so pretty (and expensive!) that I don't want to leave it lying on the kitchen counter. My friend suggested getting one of those dictionary stands like they have in libraries.

Several of the books I've bought in the last few months are just too big. Bouchon, Spoon, John Folse's Cajun and Creole Cuisine - all too damn heavy!

I wish that the publishers would take a hint from the el Bulli books. Those books are also gorgeous and very heavy, but there's a CD-ROM included in the case that has printable recipes.

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I'm a cynic, but I assuem that the reason cookbooks are so huge, lavish and impractical these days -- Bouchon among them, the fucking binding of my copy ripped out last night after three months of use -- is that 1) most people buy them to display, as oppose to cook from and 2) the chef and publisher make a boatload more money from a $50 book than a $20 book. It's no longer about cooking, it's about food porn.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I also make copies of recipes from cookbooks, magazines, etc. I keep them in a binder, but when I'm following a recipe I usually stick it onto the fridge with a magnet. My kitchen is very tiny, and when the recipe is on the fridge it is so convenient, it's right there at eye level as I'm working, I don't have to bend down to read anything that's on the counter (and taking up precious counter space), and I don't worry about getting it messy.

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One of my friends had a great suggestion over brunch just this morning. I was telling him about the new English edition of the Ducasse "Grand Livre". It's a lovely book, but I find that I have to sit in a chair with the book in my lap to read it. It's so heavy that holding it up becomes uncomfortable. It's so pretty (and expensive!) that I don't want to leave it lying on the kitchen counter. My friend suggested getting one of those dictionary stands like they have in libraries.

Several of the books I've bought in the last few months are just too big. Bouchon, Spoon, John Folse's Cajun and Creole Cuisine - all too damn heavy!

I wish that the publishers would take a hint from the el Bulli books. Those books are also gorgeous and very heavy, but there's a CD-ROM included in the case that has printable recipes.

You're in luck! There's a CD-ROM available for the John Folse book. I don't have it, yet, but I'm considering it.

The big books don't play well with others on the bookshelves, either. They require their own spot (on the coffee table, sure, but I'd like to be able to fit everything on the shelves).


"I like 'em french fried pertaters." (Billy Bob Thornton as Karl, in Sling Blade.)

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One of my friends had a great suggestion over brunch just this morning. I was telling him about the new English edition of the Ducasse "Grand Livre". It's a lovely book, but I find that I have to sit in a chair with the book in my lap to read it. It's so heavy that holding it up becomes uncomfortable. It's so pretty (and expensive!) that I don't want to leave it lying on the kitchen counter. My friend suggested getting one of those dictionary stands like they have in libraries.

Several of the books I've bought in the last few months are just too big. Bouchon, Spoon, John Folse's Cajun and Creole Cuisine - all too damn heavy!

Something like this is helpful. I have a couple of these and also one of the ones that slides in from the side, like you see in hospitals (much more expensive).

Since the top tilts and has a ledge to keep books from sliding off, it is ideal for reading large books.

I have a lot of very large books, collectibles and very old and rare books that require special handling. These tables are just the ticket and since the price has dropped, they are reasonably priced.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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Cookbooks of most any size tend to drive me crazy--they won't lie flat, so the pages flip on me while I turn away to mess with the stove or whatever, losing my place. Or in my efforts to get them to lie flat with weights or whatnot, I wind up with a broken binding--especially aggravating in a fat perfect-bound paperback because then the pages start coming loose and threatening to get lost. And that's leaving aside the whole issue of huge cookbooks that weigh too much and take up way too much workspace.

Wish more cookbook publishers would take a cue from the old Betty Crocker cookbooks that came in a three-ring binder. Or even the old Joy of Cooking, which came with two sewn-in ribbon bookmarks, and a sturdy enough binding that I've abused my copy for 25 years without cracking the spine.

A friend of mine had a clear acrylic cookbook stand that looked something like this--worked pretty well at taming the more recalcitrant cookbooks, and also protected the pages from (most) spatters.

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I thought I was the only one who felt this way. I love Bouchon the book, I feel empowerd when I use it, but it does not appear to be designed for use. Even when I re-read the recipe, make a copy, post it on the fridge, if I need to check the recipe in the book, its hard to balance, the type is small and it wont lie flat.

For all the effort Mr. Keller speaks of regarding how each recipe was tested in a home kitchen, I wonder if the cooks assumed processes that are intuitive to professional cooks, but not necessarily to home cooks. There have been times when I've had to refer back to the book to understand the flow of a process and its not easy.

I am a fan, Tom Keller can write on stone tablets and I will buy it, but I hope the next book is put in the hands of some passionate ameteurs (I volunteer!). The feedback may be surprising.

I just received my copy of Bouchon by Thomas Keller today and was browsing through it. I love the book's concept (French Bistro basics taken to precision), the looks of the recipes as well as how beautiful this cookbook is. My one complaint, however, is that I am finding more and more of these cookbooks that are so beautiful that they fit more into the 'coffee table book' category which makes me wonder, are they for actual use? The other one that I recently bought was Home Baking by some of my favorite cookbook authors, Jefferey Alford and Naomi Duguid, and it falls into that same category----beautiful and HUGE.  When I say HUGE I mean not only thick but plain old big all around. I love the pictures, though they also make me leery of getting flour or mishaps near them to avoid soiling their beauty. In my obsessiveness about my cookbooks, I almost feel like copying their recipes into my own book to preserve them. Does anyone else feel this way? Is this the wave of the future for cookbooks? I personally love them and hate them at the same time! :hmmm:

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I bought Bouchon and The French Laundry specifically to cook from after I read some recipe reviews on eGullet. Both books are sitting on my coffee table right now. I don't know how I'm going to use either book if I have to put the book in the kitchen to follow the recipe - I don't have a lot of counter space and my existing cookbook holder won't accommodate these books; it collapses. I think I will be photocopying the recipes also, in order to get any use out of the books. I really want to try Keller's quiche recipe, in particular, and this week is the perfect time because DH is out of town (he hates quiche).

I don't know why more cookbooks aren't either ring-bound or spiral-bound, or at least bound in a way that stretching them open for placement on a cookbook holder doesn't result in a broken spine and falling-out pages. I have a great cookbook holder with a clear plastic part that prevents ingredients from splattering pages, but many times when I open the book wide enough so it will stay open on the holder, the spine cracks. I know the design of cookbooks is important and I certainly appreciate a nice-looking cookbook, but practicality is important too. Spiral binding doesn't look as cool, but it sure is a lot more useful.

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2) the chef and publisher make a boatload more money from a $50 book than a $20 book.

Exactly.

My beautiful cookbooks take up space. I cook from a ring binder of clippings and photocopies in plastic sleeves. If a recipe is particularly complicated I make a copy of the copy and tape it on the cupboards at eye level for reference while I'm cooking.


Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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on a related note...

i find it a handicap to cook a recipie with which i have not yet attempted or with which i am still unfamilar without pictures. big, beautiful pictures. they inspire me and guide me. how food looks is a big spur to me to want to prepare it.

cheers :)

hc

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Today I had the opportunity to actually look at many of the cookbooks I had only previously been able to view online (I live in a small town). I saw many more HUGE cookbooks (I didn't realize that The French Laundry Cookbook is just as HUGE as Bouchon) and couldn't help but wonder, again, if this is the future of cookbooks?

I have one of those cookbook holders, too, but the likes of Bouchon will probably kill it!

I also realized that I am very picky about cookbooks---I, too, like to see pictures of the recipes in the book for both inspiration and reference but not at the expense of ease of use. But can't we have both---useful pictures and a useful book? While looking through Bouchon, for example, there are many pictures that, to me, seem superfluous. My assumption is that the pictures are there merely for the ambiance that the cookbook evolks. I can truly appreciate the pictures from an aristic standpoint but I thought that cookbooks are created for practical use, too?

In defense of Bouchon, though, I love the recipes and the premise of this cookbook. I just wish the publishers hadn't made it so inaccessible for the home cook. I wish they offered a pared down version, too! :rolleyes:

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on a related note...

i find it a handicap to cook a recipie with which i have not yet attempted or with which i am still unfamilar without pictures.  big, beautiful pictures.  they inspire me and guide me.  how food looks is a big spur to me to want to prepare it.

I look at the the pictures, find the ones that look interesting, make a copy, then put the giant book on the shelf. I have the memory of the dish, but don't have to splatter food all over my books.


Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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I bought Bouchon and The French Laundry specifically to cook from after I read some recipe reviews on eGullet. Both books are sitting on my coffee table right now. I don't know how I'm going to use either book if I have to put the book in the kitchen to follow the recipe - I don't have a lot of counter space and my existing cookbook holder won't accommodate these books; it collapses. I think I will be photocopying the recipes also, in order to get any use out of the books. I really want to try Keller's quiche recipe, in particular, and this week is the perfect time because DH is out of town (he hates quiche).

I don't know why more cookbooks aren't either ring-bound or spiral-bound, or at least bound in a way that stretching them open for placement on a cookbook holder doesn't result in a broken spine and falling-out pages. I have a great cookbook holder with a clear plastic part that prevents ingredients from splattering pages, but many times when I open the book wide enough so it will stay open on the holder, the spine cracks. I know the design of cookbooks is important and I certainly appreciate a nice-looking cookbook, but practicality is important too. Spiral binding doesn't look as cool, but it sure is a lot more useful.

My Keller cookbooks -- and others of similar dimension -- are covered with stains and the dried detritus of meals long past, because they're so damn big I have to set things on them while I cook, in my counterspace-deprived kitchen. You can always tell the recipes I like best, because of the built-up scunge on the pages. Bouchon makes a great trivet; you can stack two medium bowls of chopped vegetables on on on The French Laundry Cookbook and still read the recipe below.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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About food magazines: don't throw them away! I think some people collect them and I got good prices for my back issues on eBay. The process of getting rid of them actually inspired me to cook from magazines I haven't touched for years and any "keepers" were copied out onto my computer where they are very accessable and are no longer cluttering up my living room.

I tend to find that I am inundated with recipes I want to try. I actually think my cooking would improve if I can get myself to cook the same recipe multiple times rather than gravitate towards trying something new every time I feel the urge to cook. I have a feeling I'd become a lot more effcient and technically proficient if I developed a 'stable' of favorite recipes that i have perfected.

My beef with those food porn books is not that they have too many big, beautiful pictures, but what they DON'T have -- pictures that takes you through the techniques step-by-step. Big pictures are nice for inspiration, but what I would really like is more smaller pictures that break down the difficult stages. Food network is good for this sort of thing. I remember reading multiple descriptions of how to butterfly a chicken but being completely flummoxed until I saw alton brown do it on Good Eats.

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Wish more cookbook publishers would take a cue from the old Betty Crocker cookbooks that came in a three-ring binder. Or even the old Joy of Cooking, which came with two sewn-in ribbon bookmarks, and a sturdy enough binding that I've abused my copy for 25 years without cracking the spine.

Mechanical bindings (ring binders, comb binding, etc.) are more expensive than normal book binding, and are harder to handle from a shipping/packing point of view. There are lay-flat bindings (sometimes used for software manuals), but they don't work well with hardcover books and not every printer has the equipment for it.

Publishers basically spend money on things they think will make people buy the book in the bookstore, and design the book to make people want to buy them. They don't want to spend money on things they think aren't going to help sales. If that makes the books less useful, they aren't going to change until it affects sales.


"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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If the primary goal of a publisher was to create books that would be useful as in-kitchen tools then cookbooks would be spiral bound, with water-resistant coated pages. Professional texts meant to be used in food service environments, like the NAMP book, are produced this way. Therefore, given that virtually no cookbooks are sold this way, we can conclude that usability in the kitchen is not the primary goal of a cookbook publisher.

But that may be beside the point. Are these books even meant to be cooked from? I think when we're talking about books like the El Bulli and Spoon books we're talking about texts that are meant to inspire. Although they are not strictly targeted at professional audiences, they are not meant as recipe books for home cooks (or for any cooks). In other words, they are not cookbooks. They are more documentary and pedagogical in nature.

Books like Ducasse's Grand Livre are somewhat more likely to be used as in-kitchen references, especially for stocks and sauces. They are closer in nature to the CIA Pro Chef book than to the culinary art-books. It's worth noting, in this regard, that the Grand Livre is available in a 6x8" paperback version with a lay-flat binding.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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On the somewhat rare occasions I use a cookbook for a whole recipe (I usually will consult two or three books and/or online for some ideas that will accent what I'm already thinking of, that inspired herb or something) and need to have it stay open, I'm pretty brutal. I'll smash the spine as necssary to have it lie flat and not flip pages. I don't worry too much if the book gets spilled on a bit, it's a badge of honor. And you can tell the good books on the shelf, they're the ones that are well worn!

We also keep a three ring binder with those plastic sheeted scrapbook pages for handwritten and newspaper/magazine recipes we like.

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I confess to book abuse--laying them flat on the counter and holding the page with something heavy--and I like that it makes it easier to find my apple tart recipe :hmmm:

But when it's a complex dish or an extra-pretty cookbook, sometimes I like to write the recipe out for myself in longhand, which helps me retain the steps and understand the process better than just reading and rereading, sometimes. Then I will cook from my copy.

I also often find recipes I have online and print them off so I can abuse a paper copy and then toss it in my 3-ring binder.


Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

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I have confess to having a complete and utter disregard for the preservation of my cookbooks. In fact, if you were to take my cookbooks and shake them vigorously, you'd probably get a pile of flour, sugar and chocolate flecks large enough to bake a cake. There are also chocolate fingerprints, the occasional coffee stain, and other signs of abuse. I'd probably have been more careful if I had payed big bucks for any of them, but I haven't.


"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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I like to scan in any recipes I want to use and keep them on file in my computer. When I need it, I print it out. When I'm making a complex meal, I find this enables me to "organize" the recipes in a way that makes following it easier than the orignial does.


"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

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