Resolution: Recipe Repertoire...

05 January, 2014

I'm not really one for New Year's Resolutions. But I have decided that I need to expand my cooking and eating habits, and the timing felt right for a resolution after all.

I am a creature of habit when it comes to the kitchen. I have fallen into a rut of cooking mostly the same things week in, week out. They are nice dishes, but I feel I need a little more variety and excitement.

It's not like I don't have enough inspiration. Witness my cookbook collection. (And my gardening book collection too.) Note this is the culled collection, as I had a lot more and got rid of the ones I didn't really like all that much.

I love cookbooks. I love browsing through them, getting ideas of all the wonderful things I could cook. Let me introduce you to them.

In the first box of my bookshelf I have a few gifted books (I'm not really a fan of Donna Hay, but never look a gift cookbook in the mouth), my German cookbooks including the Dr Oetker book from which I make the traditional German Christmas cake Stollen, without which it would not be Christmas, a copy of Ma Cuisine by Escoffier in French (that will require an online translator as my French is appalling), the cookbook by the proprietor and chef of the best patisserie in Melbourne Burch and Purchase (What! You've never been?! Get yourself there my friend. Until you have eaten their sweets you've not lived.) and a few baking cookbooks I've never made anything from.

The second box contains the fabulous cookbook Jerusalem, which is not only a recipe book but a brilliant overview of the cultural and culinary traditions of the city and has some fascinating stories. There are also some of my french style books and a few more in the fresh/seasonal/real food/farmers market vein.

The third box has the English books, including almost the entire Nigella Lawson collection (my favourites are How to Be a Domestic Goddess and Forever Summer), and my beautiful and much battered copy of Mrs Beetons Book of Household Management. I love its diagrams and its history, and have frequently read a bit whenever I needed a laugh, as some of it's strictures considered in a modern light are just hilarious.

The fourth box partly continues the UK theme, with a really good cookbook Fast Food by Gordon Ramsay (I don't like him all that much, but the book is great), the cookbook from Maze (which was one of his restaurants which had an outpost here in Melbourne which unfortunately closed. It's a pity because the food was really good.) which I bought solely for the recipe for a White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Mango and Black Olive Caramel after eating it in said restaurant, it was THAT GOOD. Also contained in this box is probably my favourite title for a cookbook: The Clatter of Forks and Spoons. I've never cooked from it, but I love it.

And lastly, the fifth box has my veg specific cookbooks, my River Cottage collection (also not complete, but I really like the RC Meat Book and Veg Everyday particularly), my thermomix cookbook which I shamefully haven't cooked from yet although I've had my thermomix for over a year and regularly use but certainly not to its fullest potential, and my Australian Women's Weekly Cookbook. Growing up my mum had the exact same copy and I cooked from it many times, and when she refused to allow her copy to make its way into my collection when I left home I was in despair. Lucking not a week later she found this copy providentially in an Op Shop for $4. One of the things I most love about it is that it has old newspaper cuttings and postcards in it from its previous owner. It's delightful. And the pavlova recipe never fails.

I'm sure there are many larger and more extensive cookbook collections out there. Some may even scoff at this and say, is that all?! But even as I have all these cookbooks I frequently succumb to the lure of another book. I will then read said cookbook cover to cover, and will bookmark recipes I simply MUST try.

Thing is, I never try them. Many of the cookbooks I've had for years and sadly, some I've never cooked a recipe from.

That's it! My New Year's Resolution is: Cook a totally new recipe from my cookbook collection each week.

Now looking in more detail, I counted up my cookbooks. There are 53 exactly. (Not counting the Heston Blumenthal Big Fat Duck cookbook, which is a work of art but I seriously don't think I'd cook anything from it. Where would I get the liquid nitrogen?...)

Darn. Not quite one each week for the year, but close enough.

Each week I will try a recipe from one of my cookbooks, and will blog about said expansion of my Recipe Repertoire. Feel free to join me.


  1. Bek, what a gorgeous collection! I adore reading cookbooks, but rarely cook from them. Like you, I am stuck in a rut. But there is one book missing from your collection - Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion. I love that it is organised by ingredient - the perfect solution to the garden glut. Stephanie has never failed me, seriously, there has never been a recipe I have needed that is not in there, or at least one good idea for a dish for whatever veg I have brought in from the garden. And the general information is brilliant. I will be buying one for all the children when they leave home..

    1. Cheers! On the Stephanie Alexander book, it was on my to-buy list back in the early collecting days, but I've just never gotten around to purchasing a copy for myself. I have borrowed it frequently from the library though...