The Comfort of Cookbooks

It’s funny don’t you think, how we move from one obsession to another? One minute it’s all about a certain colour (mustard yellow for me), then it’s a desperate need to visit a certain place (Europe would be nice), and before you know it you find yourself on a cookbook-buying bender … or perhaps that’s just me?

First I ordered myself a copy of ‘martha goes green‘ (a book I’ve been meaning to buy for ages), then a beautiful book dedicated to all things wickedly sweet (it had me at lemon curd tart), and finally a book filled with healthier (more sensible) main meal recipes. So far only the first book has arrived, and it has already proved itself to be a welcome addition.

Martha Goes Green ... my latest cookbook purchase

There’s much to love about ‘martha goes green‘. The recipes are wonderful and homely, with a good mix of vegan and vegetarian options (although I was sold on this book when I saw it contained a recipe for chocolate mousse – it’s been too long since I’ve enjoyed a vegetarian-friendly version). The other bonus of this book is that it comes with its own drawstring pouch, so it can hang around instead of taking up precious shelf space.

Martha Goes Green ... hanging in the kitchen

Of course it’s always nice to add to your cookbook collection, but my recent purchases had me wondering whether cookbooks hold more than just the promise of good food or a new favourite recipe. It took me a while, but I finally realised that beautiful cookbooks not only provide theΒ opportunityΒ to try new recipes and experiment with different ingredients – those pages offer a most satisfying blend of comfort.

I’m reminded of a quote from Nigella Lawson, ‘When I can’t sleep I start ordering cookbooks. And I comfort myself twice over by telling myself how useful they are, how they really help my work‘. Well I can’t claim that ordering cookbooks helps my work in any way, but they do provide lovely respite from the troubles and stresses of modern life.

Sure, there is always happiness within a rich chocolate dessert or a tasty savoury dish, but it’s rather wonderful that food-related comfort can be found without entering the kitchen or taking a single bite. By simply turning the page from one recipe to the next, the world becomes a little calmer, a little kinder, and a whole lot more wonderful. Do your cookbooks comfort you too?

PS. On a related, yet slightly different note … am I the only one who never starts a cookbook at the first recipe?

26 Comments

  1. Felicity

    Unlike the gorgeous Nigella I only have a cupboard full of cook books and magazines, not an entire library, however I’ve had to stop because I hardly ever cook from them!

    Like you I start at the first recipe and often read them like a novel, savouring every page. Writers like Nigella are my faves, those who have a clear voice and add personality to their writing rather than recounting the dish like a science experiment.

    I hope you share some of your new faves with us as you discover them

    Happy day!

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Felicity – I’m the same way as you – there is no beautiful library of cookbooks waiting for me in the kitchen … although I probably own more than I currently need. I end up moving between a few favourites and rarely opening some at all!

      I love those cookbooks that have a unique ‘voice’ … Sophie Dahl is another who I find to be a joy to read.

      I will most certainly share some favourite ‘new’ recipes as I make and find them. xx

  2. Lucent Imagery

    Oh yes, can totally relate. Cookbooks are pretty much the only books I still buy in hard copy format. I love sitting on the couch or outside with a cup of tea and a notepad, jotting down ingredients needed. Flipping through the pages you feel homely and calm and wanting to nurture yourself and others around you. I love the book bag hanging next to that awesomely big clock! I sometimes think I will start at the beginnning and work my way through a cookbook. But I can’t do it. I flick until I find something that satisfies the current cravings. Oh and you could totally claim that cookbooks help your work. Writing must be fuelled by good food! πŸ˜‰

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Lucent Imagery – Yes indeed … I normally read fiction on my kindle, and only buy non-fiction books in ‘physical’ form (although of course I can always make exceptions to that rule). πŸ™‚

      Cookbooks are so relaxing and comforting … I can think of nothing better on a rainy day than curling up with one on the couch and having a cuppa! πŸ™‚

      I always have the best intentions with new cookbooks too, and resolve to start at recipe number one and work my way through. I’m still yet to actually make that happen … my cooking and tastes are too mood-driven to be restricted like that.

      PS. I love our big kitchen clock too, it was a house-warming gift from my brother. And I’m loving your idea of good food fuelling good writing … that sounds pretty wonderful to me. xx

  3. Teresa

    Such a pretty cookbook and I love how you can hang it up when you’re done! I LOVE chocolate mousse so I hope you’re giving that recipe particularly good attention. πŸ˜€

    I never start cookbooks from the start. I tend to flick through the pages until a picture grabs my attention and then I’ll read the recipe. Probably not the best and efficient way to read cookbooks!

    (Mustard yellow will always be an obsession πŸ˜‰

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hello Teresa! Haha, I haven’t made the chocolate mousse yet … but it’s on my list for the coming week … although I am worried that the Mr may want to eat some too! πŸ˜‰

      I’m like you and flick until something catches my eye … and more often than not that recipe will be something sweet and chocolatey. πŸ™‚

      I honestly thought that mustard yellow would be a passing phase, and yet here I am several years on and still just as obsessed as ever … at least I still give other colours a look in from time to time much as it pains me … haha! xx

  4. Sara

    I have never, ever made the first recipe of a cookbook! In fact I don’t think I have ever made more than three recipes from any cookbook I own. I don’t know why, I just like to look at them I guess, but not very good at taking orders..!
    Also – mustard yellow is great! I hate it though when you are all loving a colour then it’s suddenly that colours turn to be the ‘in’ colour of the season and all of a sudden it’s everywhere and suddenly less appealing. Or is that just me?!

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Sara – Hmmm, you’ve got me thinking now about how many recipes I make from any of my cookbooks … I can’t imagine my average would be very high. Although I’m really wanting to change that (after I clean out all the cookbooks I NEVER look at).

      I know what you mean about loving a particular colour and then being disappointed that it’s suddenly ‘in’ and everyone jumps on the bandwagon … luckily my love of mustard yellow will last beyond whatever the ‘cool kids’ think of it. πŸ˜‰

  5. Andrew

    Hello,

    The size of this cookbook and the bag are awesome as well! Too many cookbooks weigh a ton and a take up vital space.

    Best Regards

    Andrew

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Andrew – It is a great little cookbook … full of recipes that are tasty, and yet small in size … I know I have lots of those huge cookbooks in my kitchen and probably NEVER look at them (it’s next on my culling list). πŸ™‚

  6. Monica

    worse, i almost never follow a recipe! lol
    i like cookbooks for inspiration, but for me, cooking is a creative thing, so following something to the letter is a bit like doing a paint-by-numbers for a painter. you know?
    that’s why it took me years to get bread right… ahem…
    so i enjoy them for lovely images and homely or fascinating anecdotes.

    loving the drawstring bag.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Monica – Well never following a recipe is a great thing to do … because obviously what you cook turns out delicious. I tend to follow a recipe to the letter the first time I make it and then see how it turns out, and then I’ll make whatever changes with each time I next make it … almost like a gradual evolutionary process. πŸ™‚

      I do believe cookbooks are lovely publications even if we never end up making a recipe from them. Although I’m always partial to making something sweet … πŸ™‚

  7. Selma

    I love a good cookbook. The funny thing is I don’t always use recipes from my favourite ones I read all the time. I have a collection of handwritten and typed recipes I have gathered from friends and family over the years (a very disorganised collection) which I tend to return to all the time. I think I need to branch out. Love your photos!

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Selma – I love that you have a collection of handwritten and typed recipes that you’ve gathered … I think that’s so wonderful. I’ve never been very good at doing that, and I think being able to search for recipes online so easily has perhaps made me a little lazy at organising a proper collection.

      I’ve been feeling that need to try different recipes lately, so that may be another reason why I’ve felt the need to do some cookbook buying. πŸ™‚

  8. Fi Figueroa

    Oh wow! I always have ti skim the whole book to choose the first recipe to make. (and it’s never been the first one hehe) I actually have this book and it’s amazing. I bought it when looking for better options in vegetarian cooking. Such a great start!

    -Fi

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Fi – Yes, it seems that lots of us are recipe book skimmers rather than starting from page one. I’m so happy to hear that you love this book too … I’m looking forward to trying out a few more recipes from it this week. It’s nice to have something different to look forward to. πŸ™‚

  9. Hila

    Anything that comforts you is worthy of purchase, I’ve been doing the same lately. Cookbooks are generally very comforting because there’s something so appealing about looking at images of food and picturing yourself taking the time to make it lovingly. At least that’s how I approach them πŸ™‚

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Hila – I’m a big believer in the importance of surrounding ourselves with comforting things … but that’s probably just an excellent excuse for me to buy more books! πŸ˜‰

      I probably don’t cook enough to justify some of my cookbook purchases, but thank goodness they inspire in other ways too. πŸ™‚

  10. urban muser

    i love to buy cookbooks too. there is something about browsing thru the recipes that inspires me, although i have to admit i feel like i rarely use them to cook an actual recipe step by step πŸ™‚

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Urban Muser – I agree … even if we don’t follow recipes in our cookbooks, they provide loveliness and inspiration in many other ways. πŸ™‚

  11. Christine

    Love the pouch! Enough reason to buy this book, right there πŸ™‚
    It looks and sounds great! And I actually find it hard to find good veggie cookbooks.
    Thanks for sharing this πŸ™‚
    (I usually start at the back – with the desserts! :-))

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Christine – Haha … I know, that pouch is adorable isn’t it? I also find it hard to find decent veggie cookbooks too … sometimes they don’t get the balance right between tasting good, looking good and being easy to make.

      PS. I always start with the desserts too. xx

  12. belinda/gretchenmist

    just getting into cook books {the kitchen and i are not really good friends!!} as i want to change my diet to mostly vegan. lots of learning to be done πŸ™‚
    you have a very stylish clock too xx

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Belinda – Sounds great! I think the longer I’m vegetarian, the more I seem to want to become vegan … I hope the kitchen becomes a better friend to you!

      PS. I love my kitchen clock too (it was a gift from my brother, so I can’t take credit for its stylish nature). πŸ™‚

  13. woolf

    i read cookbooks! i have always done. i take them on the train. i’ve had more than one fellow traveler sallivating over sumptious dishes, and that’s not including me! on actually following a recipe i am no hero. it is true. i use cook books for inspiration, and then i leave them behind and just cook left overs. i seem always to be cooking left overs! how come? i haven’t got a clue.
    maybe it is because i prefer left overs?

    on nigella and chocolate mousse (bakes) e.g., she’s got a recipe on a flourless chocolate cake, which you must be familar with? it is like, baked mousse! people LOVE the thing, but i haven’t been able to bake it, since no traditional oven at hand (that d**n kitchen, you know?).
    anyway. i’m actually planning a nigella larder in our house here, to change the subject subtly…. πŸ˜‰
    nβ™₯
    ps – i always start the cook book on the first page, just like in all other books. i love beginnings. ha ha ha…

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Woolf – Oh that’s wonderful! I don’t think I’d have the shoulder strength to lug my cookbooks with me on the commute … I could imagine though that reading such delights would indeed make everyone else very jealous indeed. I think it’s a good thing that you actually use your leftovers – I always have the very best of intentions and then things just sit around in my fridge or freezer until they must be binned.

      Oh yes, I have heard of this famous flourless chocolate cake, but I have never made it myself. I am completely supportive of anything mousse related … YUM! I bet you can’t wait to get back to baking once that kitchen of yours is sorted (I’m loving the sounds of your nigella larder!!).

      How delightful that you start cookbooks at the beginning (as one probably should). I just skip straight to the sweet … haha! πŸ™‚

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