My Cookbook Challenge enters its third year. I begin 2020 with 162 cookbooks. Which ones will I keep and which ones will I declutter moving forward?
It’s taken two full years now to declutter my enormous cookbook library and it’s about 60% complete. My enthusiasm for cooking usually wanes in the heat of the summer. I can’t bear to turn on the oven and live off of fruit, yogurt, and smoothies. Usually, I feel re-invigorated come fall and look forward to getting creative in the kitchen but this past fall was busy and time got away from me. My cookbook challenge slowed exponentially. By years-end, I had kept several cookbooks that I look forward to delving into more and decluttered a total of 28 cookbooks.
I began 2018 with 219 cookbooks. In 2019, I was down to 190 cookbooks, and this year, 2020, I begin with 162 cookbooks. My goal isn’t to get my cookbook library down to a specific number. My goal is to edit my cookbook library to only include much loved and utilized cookbooks that provide real value to my daily life.
This challenge to cook a minimum of two recipes from each cookbook that I own is time-consuming but it’s coming along. Admittingly, less-inspiring cookbooks go straight into the donate box but others I give a fair chance and dig into.
Blue cards denote cookbooks from which I have made at least two recipes and thus decided to keep. Orange and yellow cards denote cookbooks from which I have made at least one recipe and have decided to keep for further exploration.
Cookbooks to keep
KEEP: I made a delicious butternut squash soup from America’s Test Kitchen Healthy cookbook. Their broad range of books is fantastic. I own several.
KEEP: French cuisine is heavily meat-based. Aside from the French pastry and bread world, I don’t eat much French cuisine. However, I made a delicious and flavorful seafood stew from this cookbook and decided to keep it around a little longer. Mostly, I love the vintage photography and 1970s era recipes included within but I want to try at least one more recipe.
KEEP: For baking, American cookbooks prevail. I made a scrumptious loaf of banana bread. I kept American Cooking and decided at the last minute to pass on James Beard’s American Cookery. It’s a classic but I have so many other American cookbooks I reach for. This is precisely what this challenge has done for me; identify those that I truly value and use, and pass on the ones I don’t reach for to others.
KEEP: I made Houlumi Cheese Bread from this Middle East Cookbook. It contains quite a few vegetarian recipes that I look forward to attempting.
KEEP: Some of the most beautiful cookbooks I own are Donna Hay’s. I believe I have four and I’m loathed to get rid of any of them. I made a delightful butternut squash soup from her Seasons cookbook.
Cookbooks to pass on
PASS: I didn’t feel inspired to experiment from these two and decided to donate them for someone else to discover.
ALSO PASS: I felt these two were just too specific and narrow to keep in my library when I have other books that cover these topics.
PASS: I surprised myself by decluttering this gorgeous cookbook. Anna Del Conte is an amazing Italian cookbook author. I have another one of her books but I had to be honest with myself, there weren’t that many vegetarian recipes to justify keeping it.
PASS: This exquisite book represents a lesson learned. It was an impulse buy and would make a lovely coffee table book but in practicality, the cuisine is meat-heavy and I should have looked closer before I purchased it. I decided to pass it on to someone who will actually cook from it.