1 EAGLETON NOTES: Cooking: The Books

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Saturday, 30 May 2015

Cooking: The Books

Recently in a café I had some splendid spicy lentil soup. I make a lot of soup. I have not made spicy lentil soup though. So I went to my cookery books and discovered lentil soup recipes do not abound. although, to be fair, The New Soup Bible did have 5 with lentils. I also found a pasta and lentil soup in Nigellissima. It would, of course, have been much easier just to go on line and choose one of the hundreds that will come up with a Google search. It made me wonder why, despite culling the cookery books several times in recent years, I still have two shelves of them: one in the main bookshelves and one in the kitchen. Apart from the simple fact that I like books the thing I love about cookery books is that you can browse and get ideas. That’s not so easy on the internet.




32 comments:

  1. Aah ~ but are your cookbooks smart enough to predict other recipes you might be interested in based on your search history? Your two shelves are not excessive GB ~ although I do find cookbooks look dated more than anything else ~ food photography has changed over the years. Enjoy your lentil soup.

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    1. Carol you do have a point about the value of cookies (pun intended). I used to have a Mrs Beaton but I must have disposed of it. It was the scale of some of her cooking that amused me sometimes. For good basic recipes and techniques it's hard to beat Pru Leith or Constance Spry. I find getting original ideas for a dinner party the hard part of cooking. Getting a recipe is the easy part. Executing it is the lucky part.

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  2. Wouldn't seem right not to have some cookbooks around. I even own some of yours. SOmetimes I google - but mainly I save pictures of recipes that my friends use....

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    1. Fiona I used to have a recipe book that I started years ago when friends were living with me temporarily when their house purchase fell through. Pat and I shared it and then gradually she added more and more recipes and I lived in New Zealand and it's a long time since I saw it!

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  3. My memory isn't good enough to have so many cookbooks. I'd spend all day trying to remember which book a certain recipe is in. Are the books with the markers in the kitchen. And the Quick Crosswords for doing while you wait for something to come to the boil? I think Georgia would like to have Brownie Bliss!

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    1. Pauline the recipe books are accessible from my chair at the breakfast bar where I seem to spend most of my life when I'm in the house. That's why the crossword books live there. I have a system of markers in my cookery books. The flaw in that is that I now have so many markers if I can't recall which book a recipe as in I'm just as lost as if I had no markers at all.

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  4. I was going to tell you to go to the internet but you beat me to it. I go to the internet so I don't have to mess with the Micro managers cookbooks.

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  5. I do both. I like the 15 cookbooks that I have. I also like to make a list of meals for the next ten days, go online or to those books and see what we need for the recipes and then I send Big Bear to the store with a very precise list. Being in the mountains, this seems to work best for us. I do not know how people decide after work what they are going to have/want for supper!

    The last time we were with my daughter, she asked me to get together about 20 recipes that take about 30 minutes to prep and cook and are vegetarian. I wrote a grocery list on each recipe and she keeps that little notebook in the car so that if she and her husband can both make it home at a reasonable hour, she can stop by the store on the way and take that recipe in and buy the ingredients. Seems to be working for her. And they don't eat out as often.

    I would guess eating out is not something that you do much on that island and I surely do not at the top of my mountain.

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    1. That's very efficient Mrs Thyme (I think I might settle on that). I plan for dinner parties but when I'm on my own I either take something out of the freezer that I've batch made earlier or decide when the meal comes what I will eat. I usually have enough in the house to cater for almost any dish I might fancy. When I'm on my own I don't eat much meat. Despite living in a very remote place I'm only seven miles from Stornoway with two supermarkets: one being one of the largest Coop supermarkets in Scotland.

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  6. This post really set me thinking - not just what you wrote, Graham, but also what the other readers said in their comments.
    But before I start on an exceedingly long comment of my own, I think I want to save it for a post of my own - it's definitely worth it!

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    1. I shall look forward to that Meike.

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  7. I spyed Delia Smith. I am on my third copy of her book. One wore out another got hot BBQ sauce spilt on it and the pages stuck together and the third I still have.
    I think there is a big difference between the photographic cook books and the pure text ones; I generally prefer the latter.

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    1. Adrian if I want to know 'how to' then I agree that the text ones are generally better but for ideas I find photos easier on my simple brain.

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  8. I keep two 'basic' cookbooks + a filing box for brochures in the kitchen; and in the bedroom nextdoor a few more "special" cookbooks and a binder with recipes collected from magazines etc. About 90% of the time I probably stick to just about a dozen or so basic recipes and vary them a bit. For example, I have a favourite simple recipe for potato-leek soup which includes chopped ham. But if I want to go vegetarian I skip the ham and put red lentils in it instead. Then I just start with the other ingredients and add the lentils when ten minutes left to boil (or whatever the instructions on the packet says).

    One of my cookbooks is still the first one I got when I moved away from home back in the mid 70s. It's based a lot on adding a "tin" of this or that. (No taking for granted that one even had a freezer back then. And I didn't, my first years of living on my own.) More recently (a few years ago) I did feel I might need a little bit of updating so I bought a new one which also includes microwave varieties of some recipes. It also has photos to help identify different fruits and vegetables and meat and fish etc - and some basic facts about them.

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    1. Monica yours is probably a much more sensible approach than mine. Now that I do less 'formal' cooking there are many of my cookery books I no longer use even for ideas. Can I gather the will to get rid of them though? No.

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  9. I love cookbooks, I could READ about cooking all day! And like Meike, you make me think I need to do a post about cooking!
    You are inspiring!!
    By the way, I watched "The Great British Bakeoff" when I was in England (they repeated the series here in America and called it "The Great British Baking Show"). Man, I loved that! I thought is was great!
    Oh, and if you want to know a great cooking and baking blog....Marie from "The English Kitchen"...she's great!

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    1. Kay I used to love poring over recipes and experimenting when I gave large dinner parties but those days are gone and I rarely cater for more than 8 and am often constrained by 'Lewis Man' a species that eats meat (cremated of course) and two veg which is a meal I would never normally eat myself or give friends. My favourite catering was when I gave curry parties with at least four curries made from scratch. That could easily be three days of preparation and cooking. Kay I used to love poring over recipes and experimenting when I gave large dinner parties but those days are gone and I rarely cater for more than 8 and am often constrained by 'Lewis Man' a species that eats meat (cremated of course) and two veg which is a meal I would never normally eat myself or give friends. My favourite catering was when I gave curry parties with at least four curries made from scratch. That could easily be three days of preparation and cooking. The only baking I regularly do these days is my 6 Christmas cakes (ironically I rarely eat cake). When we had a tea-shop attached to the pottery there was a spell when I did all the baking and enjoyed it. The only baking I regularly do these days is my 6 Christmas cakes (ironically I rarely eat cake).

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    2. Goodness me, you sound like a very good cook and baker to me! I have never liked curry that much but I daresay that if you served me curry with at least four curries made from scratch, I would enjoy it very much!
      I am remembering a TV show from England that I really liked....I can't remember the name of it....there were about 4 or 5 people and they had to cook a meal and then, they had to vote on which one made the best meal. They were just normal people, not chefs. Man, I was amazed at how good they all were. Do you know the show that I mean? You could have been on that show!

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    3. Cooking is once thing Kay but programmes like that are definitely not for me as a competitor and, to be honest, i'm not really keen on reality shows as a viewer (with the exception of Strictly Come Dancing for some reason).

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  10. I find I tend to keep cookery books because in each one there's just one recipe I use. This is ridiculous, I know. An efficient person would copy the recipes out and stick them in a book....oh dear.

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    1. Well at least you use a recipe in each one you keep Frances. I have many I never open.

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  11. We have a shelf of cookery books but i hardly ever consult them. Many recipes are far too intricate - somewhat self-indulgent and unfriendly. I prefer to draw on my experience of cooking and it is also nice to improvise and to innovate. Cook with your heart and your common sense I say.

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    1. Unfortunately YP unlike my wife and Son 2 I am not a natural born cook. I need a recipe with which to tamper if I am tackling something new.

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  12. Gosh, your grand collection of cook books may outshine that of a gourmet chef.
    Who am I kidding...I just checked my bookcase and an entire shelf and a half has been designated to cook books.
    I agree with you that browsing a book is far better, but the internet has soooo many many many many recipes to surf through, it's hard not to turn the pc on first when recipe hunting.

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    1. Virginia I find the internet good if I know what I'm hunting for but when I'm looking for ideas I prefer to browse books.

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  13. You may not have seen "our" cookery file for a long time but you have eaten many receipes out of it over the past few months - last Sunday - for instance. Mary Berry Baking Cook Book and "our" file are the only books I need! Compared with my few (4) cook books yours is a whole library of cooking!


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    1. And I have enjoyed them very much Pat.

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  14. I've always liked lentils and wholefood cookbooks often have good recipes - including soups. The thing is people used to laugh at "everything with lentils" years ago and they became rather unfashionable!

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    1. Oops Jenny I missed this comment. Sorry. I didn't know that lentils had been unfashionable.

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  15. One of my heroes Leonardo Da Vinci ate little else but minestrone soup, olives, cheese and bread. I think you are on to a good idea there Geeb!

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    1. I could survive very well on that diet Kate.

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