I love to cook and then, of course, post pictures of the food I've made. Because of that, people often ask me where I find my recipes. When asked this question, I always feel like I should have a great answer--I mean, I do cook a lot! However, my answer often comes across as kind of lame. "Cookbooks...? Yeah, I guess most of my recipes just come from my cookbooks." This is true. I use do my cookbooks a lot. However, I really use just a few of them to make the delicious go-to recipes that I make on a regular basis.
I got to thinking about this recently as I read the book Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson. While the premise of her book is summed up in the title, she also spends a lot of time talking about how to live with less. Since reading the book, I've been slowly decluttering and getting rid of things that I just really don't need.
My cookbooks were one of the first places I started and it happened after I got three new ones for Christmas. I went to add my three new and exciting books to my collection and realized that my little top of the cupboard spot was rather full and my little kitchen had no more space to offer. Purge, I must purge, I thought. So, purge I did. I gave some away that I really didn't use/like/need. I moved a few to the basement that I really only used for holidays and special occasions. I also moved a few to the basement that I didn't feel like I could give away just yet, but I also didn't need/want them. I'm sure they'll make it into the donations pile in the next year or so. I also had three years worth of RealSimple magazines that I had saved for the yummy recipes. I saved the November/December issues (for holiday inspiration), but gave the rest away to be read or cut up into art projects.
What I was left with was a rather small, yet rich and simple collection of my favorite go-to books.
Having fewer cookbooks has made my menu planning a lot easier. When making grocery shopping/menu plans, I'm able to grab two or three of my favorites, along with my recipe box, and sit down for a much quicker planning process. A few of the reasons that this simple collection works for me is that I have books for specific purposes. I have my trusty Betty Crocker, that I wouldn't live without for all of my basic baking, roasting, cooking needs. I have The Epicurious Cookbook, organized by season, with it's inspirational pictures and absolutely fabulous recipes. The Homemade Pantry, which encourages me continually to assess what I'm buying versus what I'm making at home from whole foods. And my newest favorite, The New Midwestern Table, which uses local ingredients and constantly reminds me of why I love Minnesota and it's food.
We live in a world filled with options. We are accustomed to options. Yet, as Bea Johnson states in her book, options make life more complicated and require more time for us to decide which option we want. Simplifying my cookbooks has made my kitchen just a bit simpler and has made my time spent in the kitchen just a bit easier. I'm sure I'll continue to add books to the collection over the years, but my goal is to keep the size of the collection the same by replacing the old with the new.
How about you? Where do you find your recipe inspiration?