I remember back when I was a kid, there were only a few old cookbooks in my house. Most of the meals in our house back then we either made it from memory, or from the instructions on the back of a box. The only time I saw any other kind of instructions were around the holidays. Every year after Halloween, grandma would break out her recipe sheets that instructed us on how to make those delicious sugar cookies, moist pumpkin bread, and yummy fudge that were all yummy staples for us throughout the season.
In my teen years, a few more cookbooks popped up when my grandpa went on a diet per doctor’s orders. A giant binder with dozens of healthy recipes had been piled on top of the few cookbooks that my grandma already had from the years before. Recipes that centered around losing weight and being healthy kept coming more and more as grandpa tried to diversify his diet. I was also learning how to cook at that time, so a few more cookbooks started popping up for my own needs.
And then the allergies came around. All of my food allergies rendered all the recipes I had memorized before absolutely useless to me. I couldn’t eat burritos because I couldn’t simply nuke tortilla shells in the microwave anymore. Spaghetti was no longer available because of a tomato allergy that made my face look like a tomato itself. Not even family favorites like chimichangas or german potato salad could be made because something in those recipes, no matter how I modified it, would make me react at some point. No prepackaged meals, no TV dinners, nothing that was readily available ever again.
So, as usual, I had to try and find some stuff to make. Which for me meant buying more cookbooks so I could get general ideas. First were the gluten-free ones because wheat was the first allergen to concern me. Then some slow cooker cookbooks because I just didn’t have time nor energy to make meals at night after I got a job. And then paleo cookbooks started showing up because of all the grain allergies. And I think there’s at least one “allergy friendly” cookbook in the mix, but there’s only so much I could do with that one.
So many cookbooks in my house now, can you guess how many recipes I have used since buying all of those cookbooks?
So many recipes, so many cookbooks, and I only use a few of them for myself. That is such a waste of money for me because cookbooks go for at least fifteen dollars at the bookstore. And I only focus on a few of the recipes. That’s like me buying a how-to guide and only reading the section in the middle of the guide.
There are many reasons I can think that factor into this (lack of time to dedicate to new recipes, lack of funds, having to modify every recipe for my own health needs, etc.), but it still brings up the question as to why there are so many cookbooks in my flipping house. What’s the point of having so many cookbooks if I don’t use them?
It’s especially concerning when they all start to sound the same. There are patterns to just about every cookbook that I started to notice after browsing through so many of them. Like how similar the recipes are to each other (how many recipes does a person need for mac n’ cheese really?) or how they’re categorized from page one. Breakfast is first, then lunch, then at least three different types of dinner entries distinguished by the meat involved, and then dessert. Maybe there’s a unique type of section, like a kid-friendly or soups and salads or vegetarian option, but eventually, they all become the same to me.
There are so many cookbooks in my possession that I’m half-tempted to copy my favorites down and sell them at a used bookstore. It’s not like I have time nor energy to experiment at home these days. They’re just taking up and wasting space at this point.
If only I was rich enough to afford a chef that would put all those books to use for me. Oh well.