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The end of 2006 and the VORTEX OF DOOM.

In 1993 I purchased cookbooks for the first time. That was a year of Jansport backpacks, overpriced flannel, and my first non-parent-owned kitchen. The only other books I had in my collection then were a church fund-raising book that my mother purchased out of pity, Pepperidge Farm holiday pamphlets, and a free Dole book with recipes that featured—surprise!—Dole products. My collection cried out for an upgrade.

Cookbook vortex of doomAt the bookstore I pondered my choices with the seriousness of a woman about to embark on a new career. It was a watershed decision—these books would shape my culinary future and live with me for the rest of my life. After consulting my flannel-clad roommates, narrowing down my choices, and considering my limited skills, I bought one “fancy” cookbook and one “homestyle” cookbook to cover my ass: Julia Child’s The Way To Cook and the 1989 edition of the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. Bookends for my buttocks, if you will. Both books still grace my kitchen shelves. Along with 117 others.

It started innocently enough. Intimidated by Julia and dissatisfied with Better Homes, I began investing in practical, all-purpose books that covered as much area as possible. As my skills grew, a growing obsession with Indian cooking gradually added 16 books on Indian food alone. I moved into more specific but still encyclopedic cookbooks such as The Cheese Bible, The Pasta Bible , and The Cake Bible. I had found my religion. Hallelujah!

My downhill slide gained momentum in 2005 and 2006. New areas of interest like canning would spark yet another buying spree. Food bloggers raved about new releases that would somehow fall into my shopping cart and show up on my doorstep to be devoured and set aside like all the others. Then the most dangerous book of all sucked me in: the pornographic coffee table ornament—books filled with beautiful prose, sexy pictures, and airbrushed silicone-breast-enhanced recipes that look so good on paper that you’d never actually make them lest you ruin the hot, dirty fantasy. My Amazon wishlist bulged with glossy books promising countless hours of hedonistic reading for the small price of only $29.95. I could feed my lust for less than nine cents a day!

When did I go from the pragmatic, conscientious buyer trying to squeeze the most from each book to the spendthrift, greedy slut buying books by the armful and tossing them on the shelf after using them once for my pleasure?

I admit it; I have a problem. But know this: I am stronger than my problem. I am stronger than my problem. Yes I am! Don’t talk back to me, problem! I’m the boss of you now, because things have changed. My New Year’s Resolution is no buying food books, cookbooks, or baking books in 2007. Instead, I will focus on cooking from the books I have and eliminate those that I don’t want.

Warning to my readers: the next few months of Bon Appegeek posts will likely be on the testy side. You may see more profanity than usual along with uncontrolled bouts of rage and evidence of excessive substance abuse. I apologize in advance. Bear with me. Please try to have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! despite my suffering.

Oh, and if you get a chance, send methadone.

Explore posts in the same categories: Books, Photos

9 Comments on “The end of 2006 and the VORTEX OF DOOM.”

  1. Dolores Says:

    Wow… cold turkey. I’m impressed! One piece of advice — if the jones gets too uncontrollable, you can always invest in a library card. New recipes to peruse without the impact on your wallet!

  2. Kate Says:

    Y’know, I am with you on that resolution. I could cook for a year or two without repeats if I concentrate on utilizing all the cookbooks I own, and it is considerably less than 117. I know I don’t NEED them, it’s just that WANT thing I can’ get away from. But I’m here for ya…..supporting and comforting, and still reading.

    And sorry, I have no methadone.

  3. Annie Says:

    Dolores: In the past, the library just made me want to buy all the really good books for myself, lol. I’m like a greedy kid! I think cold turkey is best.

    Kate: Well if you buy new books I’ll live vicariously through you. I didn’t resolve to stop doing that!

  4. Kalyn Says:

    That’s a resolution I could never keep. I realize it’s an addiction, but I figure there are worse ones.

    Happy New Year!

  5. Annie Says:

    Kalyn: Yes there are worse ones, and those are on my list too. It’s going to be a long year, heh. Happy new year to you too!

  6. Jesska Says:

    Good luck on the non-cookbook buying venture, I find it’s also a problem for me. I start out well enough, forcing myself to look through the book and pick out at least 10 recipes that sound FABULOUS before I’ll buy it. Then I get it home, read it cover to cover, slowly devouring all the little “tips” written in the column. I may cook 5-6 dishes from it, but inevitably it ends up on the shelf, only getting pulled out when I have too much produce on hand, and no ideas on how to prepare it.

    I think we should start a support group…”Cookbook Buyers Anonymous.” Someone would inevitably bring a yummy dish to our meeting, and when we’d ask for the recipe, they would describe the great cookbook it came from. We would then be FORCED to buy another cookbook and everyone would fall off the book wagon. *sigh* Not such a perfect idea, I know. Like I said…good luck with the venture! ;)

  7. erin Says:

    Here here. While I haven’t put the kibosh on buying new ones, I do have a resolution to try and actually try more recipes from my cookbooks. Even the Clinton Presidential Library Cookbook my husband bought for me on a trip to Arkansas–I think it includes a recipe from Madeline Albright?!?

  8. Tanna Says:

    Hey, if you used each one once before you put it on the shelf, you are way ahead of me. Must say I really think the Cookbook Buyers Anonymous idea is prime!!!

  9. Annie Says:

    Jesska: 5-6 dishes is way ahead of me. I still have books I haven’t read! I love the CBA idea, but let’s face it, we’d end up kidnapping cookbook writers and forcing them to write books for free, thus getting around the “buying” problem.

    erin: I have Clinton paper dolls, a joke gift from a friend. I bet a paper doll of Chelsea would look great next to your book on the shelf.

    Tanna: I haven’t cooked out of every book yet, so I think we’re tied in our vices. The problem is probably more widespread than anybody is willing to admit. It’s the dirty little addiction secret that the publishers are keeping under wraps.