As society begins to manifest itself in digital form (i.e. Kindle, newspaper and magazine online subscriptions, iTunes, etc.), cookbooks and the culinary world have not been left untouched. Looking for a quick and easy recipe for dinner or a sassy new take on chocolate cake has me paging through epicurious.com, not my grandmother’s old “Joy of Cooking”. Although the cracked and worn cookbook provides some irreplaceable humor (the instructions for making your husband the perfect cornucopia of cholesterol and fat for breakfast while the prescribed breakfast for the lady of the house is listed as black coffee and dry toast), I am afraid that’s where it ends. Because of the sudden surge of digital everything under the sun, our office started sharing their favorite cooking blogs. As an homage to old cookbooks and an open-armed welcome to the witty writers of these blogs and websites, here’s a roundup of some office favorites:
Chocolate and Zucchini: Clotilde, the Parisian author has published two cookbooks and written features for magazines and newspapers. She started the blog just to talk about her adventures with cooking and the kitchen, but this casual start turned into a notoriety among cooking bloggers. There are some great elements that make her site easy to read and navigate. She adds themes to her blogs (recently she has been using French ‘edible idioms’ as a jumping off point for some of her entries). She includes tips for a green kitchen, a recipe index, an index by ingredients, food glossary, conversions, and a photo gallery. My favorite part is the ‘currently reading’ and ‘currently listening to’ blurbs she puts on the left side of her blog. They make the reader feel more in touch with her and her interests.
101 Cookbooks: Heidi Swanson began this blog as a journey through the 100 cookbooks she owned and has turned it into anecdotes about recipes and foods that intersect with her life, travels, and interests. She has been featured in magazines, newspapers, and won awards for her writing. This San Francisco native’s attempt at cutting down on her cookbook purchases turned into a clever way to put those ancient templates (cookbooks) to use. She has gorgeous food photographs and pictures that coincide with each entry, creating visual interest. She focuses on natural, whole foods, and ingredients. That is probably my favorite part of her blog. Making healthy and natural foods more accessible is so important.
Cooking with Amy: Amy is a self taught cook with a passion that stemmed from parents who loved to cook and a job in a gourmet shop. She writes restaurant reviews, blogs about food and wine, and develops recipes for her corporate clients. Her blog is very conversational and includes some great ideas for local events and cookbooks worth looking into. I love her favorites and recipe sidebar, which makes for easy navigation. One of my favorite entries was about her taco crawl in Oakland. She had continuously heard of the abundance of taco trucks on a certain street in Oakland and investigated them one afternoon. It was one of those entries that made me want to be adventurous and find some diamond in the rough food items.
Unrefined Chef: Sarah’s goal was to make eating well more mainstream with accessible recipes from drinks to appetizers to desserts. She is a certified natural chef wanting to share the benefits and enjoyment of eating well. This reminds me of ‘101 Cookbooks’ and I can’t help but praise them both for their mission! She suggests investing in growing your own vegetables in these tough economic times. This is a great way to save money and stay healthy. Although there aren’t many recent entries, they have good subjects that all coincide with her “fresh, whole, unrefined” theme.
Nordljus: This blog makes me want to be a photographer. The photos are absolutely beautiful with enticing compositions and perfect lighting. The author, Keiko, was born and raised in Japan and now lives in the UK. Her blog is not all about cooking but gives references to other sites, cookbooks, and other recommended blogs. The photos will definitely keep people coming back though!
Tipsy Baker: While researching for this project, I found myself spending a lot of time clicking through multiple pages of her writing. It is so witty, relatable, and enjoyable to read. It feels as if you are conversing with an old friend. The author is “cooking her way through a collection of 1,000 cookbooks and feeding the results to her family”. This and ‘101 Cookbooks’ have similar inspirations and it definitely drives the reader to want to do the same thing. She has a sidebar of the cookbook she is currently using and ‘cookbooks they’ve survived’. She gives suggestions on each cookbook about whether it is a necessity or could be passed up. They’re very straightforward and helpful. Some entries, she writes about meals she just whipped up in her kitchen. I am envious of her skill of being able to come up with something with just what’s available, but I guess that comes with experience.
Tablehopper: It’s a website, not a blog. Marcia reveals insider tips on hip restaurant openings, updates on current restaurants, and good menu picks from recently reviewed restaurants. Readers are given the option of subscribing to the e-column, which gives suggestions for restaurants in most San Francisco neighborhoods. She has a concierge option where she gives personalized advice for your requests, but this feature is on hold due to her working on a new book. I love the Tablehopper files. These are clever lists put together under a certain theme: the jetsetter (getaways), the regular (established restaurant reviews), new meat (new restaurant reviews), the socialite (shindigs/feasts/festivals), the starlet (celebrity sightings at SF restaurants), plus many more. She is a very accomplished writer with a column she writes for Foodie 411, features for magazines, and pieces submitted for ‘Blackbook List for San Francisco’ in 2006. This site is great for ideas for somewhere new to go out!
Tuesday Recipe: This web site is so named because the author, Tori, emails out a recipe every Tuesday. Tori hopes to create a community of like-minded chefs all looking to better their kitchens and widen their recipe repertoire. She trained at Tante Marie’s Cooking School, has written three cookbooks, cooks on TV, writes articles for Bon Appetit, teaches at Tante Marie’s and Draeger’s, and is a regular volunteer for Food Runners. Her recipes are organized very well by main ingredient or meal. The web site also offers times for her classes, links for her books and TV shows, as well as a list of her favorite links.
What is great about these blogs is that they all suggest cookbooks that they loved or that they believe everyone should have in their own collection. I find myself getting nostalgic for the Sunday newspaper cartoons and the smell of an old library book, and it’s comforting to know blog writers are still encouraging their readers to interact with cookbooks. I’d like to rethink the old “Joy of Cooking” sexist breakfast suggestions, but I believe cookbooks are going to stay around, especially thanks to these wonderful writers and their suggestions.
Contributed by guest blogger Leigh Hermansen