I’ve been collecting cookery books for almost thirty years; I now have well over a hundred plus several fat binders full of scribbled note and recipe pages torn from magazines. Years ago, I used to have an Excel spreadsheet of all my favourite recipes so that I could easily find which book they were in but I just couldn’t keep up with the volume. Seriously, life’s too short!
Imagine my delight when I came across a website that enabled me to index all the recipes in my collection online: Eatyourbooks.com. I saw a free trial offer in the Waitrose Kitchen magazine so I thought I’d give it a whirl. You can set up a library database of five books for free (although unless they are really big books I wouldn’t have thought that was worth it); annual membership to create your full library is about £16 a year – the price of a new cookery book basically. I’ve been using it for a couple of months now and it’s been really useful for discovering recipes I didn’t even realise I had, and comparing similar recipes for the same thing by different authors. It’s certainly made me appreciate how clever Delia is at replicating the same recipes in many different books, and that very few of anyone’s recipes are truly original!
It’s important to know that you have to own the books already to get to the original recipes because the site owners don’t own the copyright for every cookery author (it’s not like iTunes) – the real value is that someone else has created this very extensive, global recipe database/index. There’s also a really well curated blog you can subscribe to, you can index obscure books you own, comment on and rate recipes as part of the membership community as well as add links to recipes you’ve found online through sites like BBCGoodFood, Epicurious.com and Allrecipes, blogs like this one or magazines e.g. Waitrose Kitchen. The more you use it, the more you’ll see you can get out of it.
It’s very easy to create your library; if you just type in the author’s name e.g. Jamie Oliver, Claudia Roden, Nigella etc. it will bring up their entire catalogue and you just check the ‘add’ box. It was really interesting to see what other books people have published and I’ve got quite a few new ones on my wishlist as a result. I was pretty surprised to see that many of my really ancient old books like my trusty M&S All Colour Cookery Book circa 1982 were indexed – many by existing members. Thank you!
When you want to find a recipe, or get some inspiration, just type in an ingredient e.g. courgette, a cut of meat e.g. pork fillet and/or a dish e.g. stew and then you’ll see a whole list of recipes with those keywords and the book it’s in. If there are too many, you can just refine your search until you come up with a manageable list.
Enjoy, ‘eating your books’!