Cookbook Clutter

20171113_095514I’ve been a recipe, food magazine, and cookbook collector for decades — as you can imagine, this means clearing out every now and then, or giving things away that fall out of use.

The Internet put a whole new spin on collecting new recipes, but I like printed copies, so I ended up with binders full of those that 20171113_091413need periodic organizing. Things build up. Sometimes I ask myself, how many cookbooks and recipes does one household need? (Hint: A LOT).

However, we live in a fairly limited space now, and after our move 2 years ago, things just sort of landed where they did. Last August, I made a run on Wayfair shelving and attacked the two most disorganized things in the house: plants and food magazines/cookbooks.

It’s my solemn vow to not add any new plants this year, and if there are new cookbooks and no room, then one of the old ones has to go.  Tough love.


One method I’ve found of keeping the clutter down is to go through magazines before they pile up and tear out what I want, put those recipes in a binder, and the rest in the recyle bin. But some magazines stand the test of time. I still have 1990s Cook’s Illustrated issues (I used to have all of them but only kept the ones I used repeatedly) and I have kept the favorites of Eating Well (which I still subscribe to) and Cooking Light (though CL has closed now, and merged with EW). Food & Wine has also been added.

The problem is that the binders need maintenance and they can get pretty huge with all of the time-tested recipes plus the ones you haven’t tried yet.

I know what you’re thinking: all of this is online already. Join the digital age!

Well, I don’t pay for online access to food sites — especially if I already pay for the magazine (yes, I could pay for the site and not the magazine, but I actually like getting magazines in the mail. I enjoy sitting down with a new food publication a few times a month and reading through it. It’s relaxing.)

To my way of thinking, if you pay for the print subscription, you should have access to the online site anyway (which is how it used to be). I also don’t like following recipes on my phone or tablet while cooking — sticky fingers can’t swipe.

And there are the blogs…

I read several food blogs for recipes, and in 2018 I probably took the most recipes from Smitten Kitchen,  with Genius Kitchen being a close second.

My favorite new magazine from 2018 was Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street — at first I wasn’t sure about this one as it seemed focused on more exotic fare than we usually cook. But, as it hit its stride I started to really enjoy the travel focus, the writing and the photography, and the focus on regional foods.

Milk Street has offered us new flavors and techniques, but I also appreciate the simplicity of many of these recipes (not all, but many). Two of my favorites are their Spanish Almond Cake and Pasta with Sweet Corn, Tomatoes and Basil. The cake is extremely simple, and  healthy (for a cake). The pasta is a bit more work, but 110% worth every bit of it. (I’d like to have it for my winter birthday, and I’m trying to think of how to work around not having the fresh corn cobs on hand.)

Today, I finally collected all the loose recipes that have been printed or taken from the20190110_135741 binders over the past few months of frenetic holiday cooking, and I have to deal with sorting and putting them back in some kind of order.

Maybe tomorrow.

Are you a recipe or cookbook collector? How do you stay on top of it all? Share in comments! We could all use some tips.


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