What Are Your Cookbook Resolutions?

January  6, 2016

Last year, some cookbooks got splattered on. Some came to bed with us, some we talked about a lot. Some found new homes, while others we flipped through with gloves on. Then there we those we barely cracked open. We don't love them any less—we just need to resolve to be better.

Here's the beginning of our cookbook resolution list—please add to it in the comments! What are your 2016 cookbook goals?

  • Among the recipes, stories, and photographs, dig for the tips, the nuggets that will make us better cooks, no matter what recipe we try.

Let's make a great big resolution list—add in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • heatheranne
  • AntoniaJames
  • EmilyC
  • Saffron3
  • scolere
Editor/writer/stylist. Author of I Dream of Dinner (so You Don't Have To). Last name rhymes with bagel.


heatheranne January 3, 2017
I started doing this in 2016. It's been really fun. The goal is to keep the books that I actually use or love to read, and get rid of the ones that have run the course of their usefulness to me. I've been cooking out of Jerusalem recently and I'm loving it.
I had a plan to choose a different book every month, but that got boring really fast. I'm valuing flexibility now. It makes me cook out of them way more. I also don't follow recipes to a tee, as I find that often stops me from using them (if I don't have an ingredient or something).
Eat Your Books has been really helpful.
AntoniaJames January 14, 2016
To those of you who have resolved to use your cookbooks more consistently:

Keep them handy. Incorporate them into your life.

Example: Instead, as EmilyC so aptly puts it, of "hopping" on the internet and finding oneself "down a rabbit hole," I now keep a cookbook on a work surface across the room - this gets me up out of my desk, too -- so when I have tiny pockets of time, when I need to clear my head and relax for a few moments, I flip through the cookbook. I always keep a small pad of sticky notes, which I use for bookmarking. I've found this so much more satisfying - and interesting -- than visiting food-theme websites!

Similarly, I pop a cookbook (+ sticky notes) in whatever tote I take with me when I leave the house or office, so that I can make use of similar downtime when I'm out and about. In the notes app on my phone, I keep a running list of ideas for dishes to consider including in my project plan for upcoming meals, as well as a note with ingredients/shopping lists. I add to those notes while looking through cookbooks.

I've been using cookbooks a lot more since implementing these simple steps. ;o)

EmilyC January 8, 2016
Like others have said already, I also want to turn to my cookbooks more often in the New Year for inspiration and meal planning (versus hopping on the Internet and going down a rabbit hole!). My goal is to introduce my kids to more cuisines by turning to many of the cookbooks I've neglected for years, and in the process teaching them about geography as well (my son has a globe in his room and loves to find the country where his food is from). I also want to thin out some of my more chef-y cookbooks that I loved a decade ago but don't fit my interest or lifestyle now (although I may hold onto a few for inspiration!).
AntoniaJames January 8, 2016
Something else I plan to do on a regular basis is to take more notes, and systematically organize all of them, as I read cookbooks. (This obviously will make my sharable knowledge base even more useful.) The cookbooks of some authors - Alice Medrich comes to mind--are practically encyclopedias of useful information and helpful tricks. It's time to capture that systematically in a searchable form.

On a small scale, I'm embracing and following through on a mission that mirrors Google's - to organize the cooking and baking information from all sources in my kitchen and on my electronic devices (and in my head, and from the cookbooks I read) and to make that information accessible (perhaps not universally) and useful.

Also, for the record, I find big "resolutions" to be rather unhelpful. There are projects and there are tasks. The way actually to make a change is to identify the tasks and then to put a deadline on each one of them. If a deadline is not met, ask why, break down the task into smaller tasks, troubleshoot time management issues, etc. ;o)
Saffron3 January 8, 2016
Ok, now I feel better given I can see I am not as far off the grid as I did think I was. I applaud 4,000 books!! I might have 400, and I've been trying to hide that from folks who might have 14. I like food52 so much...because I am pretty normal here among the texts and thoughts. What a gift you all are!
luvcookbooks January 8, 2016
So agree! You put it so well.
scolere January 7, 2016 has really helped me get out the most of my cookbooks: I just type in the ingredient I want to use and he website gives me a list of recipes in the cookbooks I own with this ingredient. wonderful! blogs and magazines are indexed too
susan G. January 7, 2016
'Cook from the books' has been a priority for the last few years and will continue to be. has been a big help.
Organize and make the books easier to locate - with about 500 books old and new, they have spread far and wide in house and garage.
Organize clipped, printed-out and copied-out recipes so they can have the accessibility of the books. (That includes you, food52.)
Good ideas, everyone!
scolere January 7, 2016
AntoniaJames January 7, 2016
susan g, your project to organize your clipped and copied out recipes sounds like one I've been working on for a while. I've found Google Drive, which I can access both from my office computer as well as on the iPad that's mounted on a convenient cupboard in my kitchen, to be indispensable.

This year (kind of coincidentally), I plan to convert my favorites from that 1200 recipe DB to a template using Apple Pages. At the same time I'll be adding new, more systematic annotations as well as digital cross references. This is part of a related project - to create a web-based knowledge base (notice I did not say "cookbook" because it will be so much more than that) to share with family and friends -- which is an offshoot of another, more focused project I'm undertaking, but then, all of my projects are related to all of the others, in one way or another, it seems . . . . ;o)
AntoniaJames January 7, 2016
These are a few suggestions of things I've been doing for 25 years, to supplement some of the bullets in the article above:

* Browse the shelves of your public library; check out lots of cookbooks. Flip through them while "watching" sports on TV or listening to games on the radio; put sticky notes on recipes that seem interesting; try those recipes. You can also flip through them while sitting by a fire on a cold winter night drinking this (not just for parties - lovely after dinner on weeknights!), or while sitting on your deck on a warm summer evening drinking whatever strikes your fancy, or any other time or place. (I worked my way through dozens during Little League and lacrosse games and soccer tournaments!)

*Browse the online card catalog of your public library for specific titles of cookbooks recommended online or from other sources, or by subject for areas of cooking or baking that interest you. Learn how to request books from other branches. Then follow the instructions above.

* Decide that fear is kind of ridiculous, and just not an option, when it comes to baking and cooking (to the point above about scary cookbooks.)

* Boycott narcissism in cookbooks (which, sadly, means most of those published in recent years).

* Support photo-free cookbooks. Yes, they're harder to produce, in many ways, but what you get in return is far more valuable; those cookbooks will remain beautiful, in their own way, for decades.

Amanda M. January 7, 2016
My cookbook resolutions were some of the few (and only) I've been considering the past week! I have so many beautiful cookbooks, but often go to the internet for quick recipes I can make that night. (What I want to eat changes by minute by minute, so meal planning ahead — although I do it every Saturday — is usually a 50/50 endeavor.) As an effort to cook more from the books I have and involve my kitchen-reticent fiance, he is going to pick a recipe each week from a different cookbook from which I will make our Sunday dinner! It involves us both and gets me outside of my rut of always going to one-pot grain meals, soups and stews. I also want to dive more into Asian cooking techniques, so I plan on making great use of my new donabe (and Donabe), as well as some old authentic Thai cookbooks I found recently.
Kelly K. January 7, 2016
My cookbook resolution is to turn to the books on my shelves first before I go searching for a 'new' recipe. Also to find a cupboard for my cookbooks!
Olivia C. January 7, 2016
I like the resolution about going to your books before the Internet- I have some gorgeous books that I've barely touched but just can't let go of. That will be my goal this year- and once a week meal planning with said books. B
heather_ricketts January 7, 2016
Mine is to be able to open to 5 random pages in the bookstore and want to cook 3 of those dishes. I have too many cookbooks where I was wooed by the cover and theme but in actuality I never use these books. So #2--donate the books that I don't use to friends and the library book sale.
Jenny H. January 7, 2016
We were just talking about this in my group The Cookbook Junkies --- I myself cook one or more recipes from each new book. With 4,000 plus cookbooks - I have to make sure they are really special to add to my collection - unfortunately every year more great books are published that are must haves in my opinion. I write reviews on my website as well as for TasteBook - and it's hard to pass up many titles.
Ali S. January 7, 2016
4000?! Can we see a picture?
Angela @. January 7, 2016
Yes, please share a photo or 2 of your collection!
Jenny H. January 7, 2016
There are book cases in the basement, living room and family room - I will try to get a few nice pictures soon. :)
patty@bryce January 7, 2016
Mine is to cook more and to continue updating my recipe spreadsheet to be able to find recipes more quickly. It has every recipe I cooked that had notations, where it was, what I thought of it, key ingredients, and type of food. Yes, I'm a geek.
Krista L. January 7, 2016
My goal this year is to cook at least one recipe out of every cookbook that I own. I use some quite regularly (I'm looking at you, Genius Recipes--you're the best!), but with about 30 on the shelves, I want to explore my collection more this year! :)
TheFritschKitchen January 7, 2016
Same here! And I'm giving myself even more pressure: any cookbook I don't use in 2016 will see the donation pile... eek!
Jennifer A. January 14, 2016
Me too! I have been choosing 2-3 from my collection every two weeks or so, and moving them to the kitchen counter as a reminder to cook from them - if times up and nothing interested me enough dig in, I am going to donate the book to a friend. By year's end, I will be left with just the jewels.
Karl January 7, 2016
My resolution is to read this hungover cookbook.
luvcookbooks January 7, 2016
I want to just continue as I am, completely cookbook obsessed but not acquiring as readily as I used to, since I have had some painful purge experiences. Right now I am excited about recipe testing for the Community Piglet from Honey and Co. Seven recipes so far and am falling for more and more as I flip through over and over. I have never cooked from an Israeli cookbook before and am finding it a new and exciting experience.
Completely spoiled for falafels that are not fresh from the frying oil, tho.
Rebecca Z. January 6, 2016
Give more cookbooks to others; particularly to young adults; and invite them to cook with me. (My children are in their 20s, so there's lots of younger adults around who don't know how to cook.)

Actually make recipes from my cookbooks (instead of just reading recipes).

Start writing my own 'family' cookbook of the foods my family loves.

Continue adding to my collection of classic cookbooks.

Ali S. January 7, 2016
Love the idea of writing a family cookbook. My mom wrote down her recipes for me when I went to college—it's my grandma's I'm after now!
Ali W. January 6, 2016
I've been meaning to get Jerusalem from Yotam Ottolenghi and Vegetable Literacy from Deborah Madison. I also can't wait for Molly Yeh to publish her first cookbook, those photos will be glorious!
Olivia C. January 7, 2016
Just added both of those books to my library at Christmas- can't wait to try them out!