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Old 10-12-2004, 05:11 PM   #1
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College Cook needs YOUR help! :)

Hi everyone, how are you all doing today?

I'm here for two reasons: I am nurturing my love of cooking and decided that this seemed like a great community to be a part of. And, because I'd like some help, so I decided to come to you, the experts.

I don't know how many of rely on cookbooks, but I'm sure you're all familiar with The Joy of Cooking. Gourmet Magazine has published, "The Gourmet Cookbook," a cookbook which they hope will replace The Joy of Cooking as the classic standard all-purpose cookbook.

For one of my midterms, I have chosen to write a detailed report on The Gourmet Cookbook, and am hoping to gain insight on what people (besides just myself) look for in a cookbook.

What do you like in a cookbook? What don't you like?

Would you buy The Gourmet Cookbook? Why? Why not?

Why do you have The Joy of Cooking? Why not?

What has made The Joy of Cooking such a time-honored classic?

I realize this is a lot to ask of you, especially being such a new face in your community here. If you could spare a few seconds, please share some of your thoughts and insights with me, as I am a new college cook with little/no experience beyond what my mom and grandma have passed down to me.

Anything you can contribute would serve to strengthen my report, and I am almost as passionate as doing a good job on this assignment as I am about learning how to cook.

Thanks for your time, sorry to be so wordy.


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Old 10-12-2004, 05:23 PM   #2
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Wow! tall order. I appreciate your enthusiasm, though (and welcome).

I have "Joy", given as a gift. Don't have the new Gourmet book - saw it at Costco the other day and already didn't like the typeface used for names of recipes (too light and hard to read).

Some cookbooks are fun to read just for how they are written, especially old ones. The old-fashioned techniques and ingredients knock me out.

"Modern" cookbooks are useful to me when they:

Have pictures showing how to do something or what the dish should look like

Have easily understood directions

Contain a glossary for technical terms

Have a decent index so you can find something particular in a hurry

Hope this helps. Good luck to you in doing your paper!

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Old 10-12-2004, 05:32 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by mudbug
Wow! tall order.
Yes, I know it is, thanks for getting the ball rolling.
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Old 10-12-2004, 05:37 PM   #4
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Regarding preferences, I like the same things mudbug does. Regarding Joy of Cooking, I'm not really fond of it. I don't know about all versions, but I have the 6.5" x 9.5" comb bound version. I don't like the paper, it is thinner (a negative to me because I like to hilite) and not as white as other cookbooks. I also dislike that for every recipe it seems to say "see this on page 45 and that on page 286). I also don't like the lack of pictures - if they couldn't do color, at least they could have done black and white. On top of all that, the type is w-a-y too small.
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Old 10-12-2004, 06:01 PM   #5
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What I look for in a cookbook is pictures. I think it helps to know how the finished product should look and let's face it, names of some recipes just aren't that appealing - but the pictures can captivate you.

I look for a section on conversions, maybe a food glossary of items used in the cookbook, and an index that is VERY detailed.

Gotta finish cooking dinner - I'll be back with more thoughts.

Edited to add - I will be getting the new Gourmet book. I subscribe to the magazine - have for years - and find that the recipes are usually on the "interesting" side without being hard to make. And the Joy of Cooking is a great basic cookbook. If you're not sure what temperature rare lamb should be cooked to, or med-rare roast, etc. this is where you go.

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Old 10-12-2004, 06:03 PM   #6
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What do you like in a cookbook?

- I like photos of each item, so I can tell at a glance:
1) if it looks appealing
2) how it's supposed to appear

What don't you like?
-I don't care for those that have hard-to-find ingredients, or those that only a small local community has. I also don't like those that have 94 steps to the final finished product.

Would you buy The Gourmet Cookbook?
Why not?
-I subscribe to Gourmet, and I will admit, it was my error. I've always thought the covers were lovely, but after looking through, it tends to be a bit uppity for me, the typical homemaker. I do have some of the older gourmet annual cookbooks, but they collect dust. The new cookbook will probably mirror the same image, or at least that's my thinking. It seems that they tend to use high-end ingredients for many dishes as well.

Why do you have The Joy of Cooking?
- I had it, but gave it away.
It was okay, but not exciting to me.

What has made The Joy of Cooking such a time-honored classic?
-Honestly? I really think that it's all in the name. Folks have seen it for so many years, and their moms had it, so they purchase it on familiarity. It also seems to be a staple bridal shower gift.
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Old 10-12-2004, 08:11 PM   #7
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A cookbook needs, above all, to be precise. It should provide measurements in mass, both metric and imperial, and should especially avoid airy-fairy terms like "pinch". It should give time estimates for every step, with precise instructions, leaving nothing to the imagination. Good quality color photos showing the finished product are also a big plus, as I like to see what it's supposed to look like, so I know what I'm aiming for. It should also provide substitutions for obscure ingredients, if possible. I also like a book that leaves me with room to improve. I like it when at least some of the recipes are beyond my ability, so I have something to work towards.
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Old 10-12-2004, 09:50 PM   #8
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First off..... WELCOME to this site and nice to have you here.

I do own The Joy of Cooking, I guess I bought it because my mom had it on the shelf now it does collect dust, I never refer to it.

Would I buy The Gourmet Cookbook? No. The mag itself I did subscribe to for a few years, but I too think it became to "fru fru" for an average home cook/reader like myself. Too much "hotel cooking" and "destinations" that I will never see. Don't get me wrong it is great for the jet set, but, it didn't work for me.

I seldom refer to a cookbook unless I am looking for a specific recipe. What I do look for are; steamlined instructions, basic ingredients that can be found at my local market [have to admit i'm lucky in this department considering how rural i am] if a step is complicated a "how too" photo will help quite a bit and a glossary so I can find what I am looking for at a glance. I don't need pictures of a finished dish, I can picture things well in my mind.

Cookbooks tend to get stale/old in techniques and flavors, I like to stay up to date on food, flavors and trends weather I use them or not, so I like to subscribe to mags. They are in my opinion closer to the pulse of modern day cooking.

I'm not an expert, and will never claim to be one, but, I DO cook and I am PASSIONATE about it just like you. My cooking is basic for the most part but always cooked with pride.
Just because someone tells you that you can't do something doesn't mean you have to listen.
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Old 10-12-2004, 10:34 PM   #9
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I like pictures. If there isnt pictures of the dishes, then I wont buy it. I want to know what it WAS to look like if I didnt mess it up. :roll:
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Old 10-13-2004, 05:49 PM   #10
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I do not have either cookbook, saw Joy of Cooking at a friends house once, scanned thru and did not like it and it was so long ago I do not remember why.

I am an incurable collector, and some cookbooks are on my shelf from chefs I am particularly fond of, i.e., Sara Moulton (SM COoks at home), Alice Waters (Chez Pannisse), Julia Child (The Way to Cook), The Frugal Gourmet (two of them), Eat the Norway, Kitchen of Light, Everything Thai, 12 volume alphabetical Woman's Day World Cookbooks. I like a variety of foods and tastes and cook only from scratch so I do use cookbooks when my creative brain is not functioning. I will use a recipe once and then alter it the next time to my taste if needed.

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