Big glossy books
Popular practical books
And the grubby, gravy-stained paperbacks I use almost every day.
The trouble is, I have so many that I never know where to find a particular recipe. So I start looking through my books and either see something completely different that tempts me, or can't find it at all and end up searching online for a similar recipe, even though I know I have it..... somewhere....
So I was delighted to be offered a free trial subscription to Eat Your Books. This is a site where many thousands of recipe books have been indexed. You make up a personal library of the books you own, finding them by title, author or ISBN number, and when all your books are listed, you have a complete searchable index of all your books. Now you can type the name of the recipe you want to find into the search box and you will be told which book you will find it in and shown a shopping list of ingredients. If you are looking for inspiration for a certain ingredient, you can search for everything containing it, and if you want to exclude certain ingredients, that is easily done too. There are lots of invaluable tips in the "Tips and tricks" box on your home page.
I've had my subscription for a few weeks now and since Christmas have been listing all the recipe books in my study, around 180 of them (you can use the Eat Your Books widget in the right hand menu to see a list) ..... there's still a loft full to tackle, plus piles of magazines which can also be listed. And I've just noticed that blogs can be added to your library too.
Listing the books was easy. Most of the books in my collection were in their extensive library of around 110,000 books. I thought there would be a few that challenged it, like the bilingual "Chopsticks" books I bought in Hong Kong 35 years ago, "Kaikai Anianai" which is from Papua New Guinea and tells you how to cook flying foxes, sago grubs and people, and a very old American paperback called "The Erotic Baker" which includes such delights as "Pecker Pudding" and "AC/DC Zucchini". But they were all there. The only ones I couldn't find on the list were some of my "old but not historic" books from the early to mid 20th century and a few of the books I have from small South East Asian publishers.
I did find the search engine a little unforgiving - I'm so used to being able to mis-type things into Google and be asked "did you mean.....?" that I was a bit surprised when, for instance, I typed "Nigle Slater" and was told there were no results. But once I realised I had to type more carefully I pulled my socks up and got on with it.
As well as the personal library, the site is a treasure trove of news, reviews, articles and inspiration that provides many hours of mouth-watering reading. But the library is the star attraction and I am already finding that I am cooking from a wider range of my books rather then turning back to old favourites time and time again.
So what does all this cost? Well, you can have FREE membership if you only list 5 books. And with the average cook book ownership per UK household at just 10 books, and people like me helping to pull that average up, there must be a lot of people for whom this is plenty. It's certainly a great way to try the site and see whether you want to go on and upgrade to full membership, which costs a very reasonable $2.50 a month or $25.00 a year.