The Cookbook Challenge – at least one new cookbook recipe a week

by April@MyFoodTrail on November 8, 2009

in Miscellaneous

I made a resolution a few months ago that I would not purchase any more cookbooks until I used my existing ones more. I don’t have that many cookbooks as I just started getting interested in cooking recently but they are all sitting in my bookshelf in my kitchen unused (or hardly used). What was the point in buying new cookbooks when I don’t even use my old ones? To quote my mum, “they are sitting there, collecting dust”!

Fast forward a few months later and I have purchased an additional 8 new cookbooks!! Yikes! And I have only made less than a handful of recipes from my cookbooks! Terrible, I know. I do try new recipes, but they don’t come from my existing cookbooks.

My recently purchased cookbooks – I just realised they are mostly Chinese cooking!

So I have decided to start a Cookbook Challenge to prompt me to utilise my cookbooks more. I will set a goal to cook at least one new cookbook recipe a week and blog about my results. Sometimes it may be more than one, but my minimum needs to be one.

A while ago, I went through my cookbooks, tabbed the recipes I wanted to make, and then made a list of the recipes so I would have an easy reference guide. I intend to do this with all the new cookbooks I have since purchased, as well as expand the listing to include categories such as dessert, mains, entrées, chicken, beef, pork etc. Hopefully this will make selecting a recipe to try a lot easier.

Does this challenge have an end date? No, but by this time next year, I need to have made at least 52 different recipes from my cookbooks. Gee, one a week is only 52 for the year, which hardly makes a dint in the thousands of recipes contained in all my cookbooks!!

The secondary and much harder challenge is that I am not allowed to purchase any more cookbooks until this year is up! Hopefully the fact that my kitchen bookshelf is now full acts somewhat as a deterrent! 😛

I hope you can join me in my Cookbook Challenge journey! Feel free to start your own cookbook challenge too!

P.S. Maybe if there are a few people interested, we could start a group and take turns to choose a weekly theme, for example, chocolate, and each of us has to make a recipe with chocolate from our own cookbooks. It doesn’t need to be the same cookbook or recipe, so long as it contains the weekly theme. Please send me an email if you are interested.

Over & Out, Rilsta xx

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

spatulaspoonandsaturday November 8, 2009 at 8:38 pm

i'm interested. except for the no buying new cook book part. that, i can't do!

i would like to excuse myself from the baking and the desserts though. no point. utterly hopeless. i do volunteer to eat your experiments however.


Anonymous November 8, 2009 at 10:29 pm

WOW! That's so awesome! What a great idea! I'm very excited about your upcoming blogs!!


OohLookBel November 8, 2009 at 10:46 pm

Nice range of books you've got there! It shouldn't really matter if you make anything from your cookbooks as long as you read them. You should just be able to *absorb* the ideas that way (not scientifically proven!).


Arale79 November 8, 2009 at 11:36 pm

hey, I have balance harmony as well but havent tried any recipe hehe. mrs lee's any good?


Stephcookie November 9, 2009 at 10:29 am

wow good luck! what a great way to make good use of all those cookbook purchases 🙂


imasugarjunkie November 9, 2009 at 10:51 am

What a great idea! I have banned myself from going anywhere near bookstores so I cannot be tempted by new books! I even had to stop myself buying new food magazines because I get very good at looking at them. Good luck with the challenge!


B1 @Twinpalates November 9, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Sounds great. I would play if there was a weekly theme. I hear in some US cities, they have groups of people meet up once a month, with everyone baking that morning, then meeting in the afternoon for a social catch up and muffin exchange.


Anita November 9, 2009 at 4:50 pm

Great idea – I love it! I too have many very pretty, but very unused cookbooks. I tend to find a lot of lovely recipes online, but I too should go through and make more recipes from them. I don't know if I could last not buying one though… (does it count it someone else buys it for you? – I have quite a few on my christmas list 😛 )


Conor @ HoldtheBeef November 9, 2009 at 5:20 pm

Great idea! Stay strong… those cookbooks you really want to buy will still (hopefully) be available in 12 months, and will probably be cheaper!


Ange November 9, 2009 at 6:49 pm

Do you mean that you cant buy any more cookbooks until this year (2009) is up or until your whole year of cooking a recipe a week is up, one seems a lot easier than the other? I have shelves full of cookbooks & have slowed down in the buying process but also do cook from them heaps too so I feel justifed!

Good Luck


Iron Chef Shellie November 9, 2009 at 8:08 pm

My name is Michele, and I buy too many cookbooks too. AND cooking magazines.

I'm at the point where I need another bookshelf now too.. and I only just bought one not that long ago!

Good idea though, I think I shall join you in this challenge, but I like to try 1 new recipe a week anyways… but I can't promise I won't buy anymore by the end of the year… I want the Bourke St Bakery cookbook for starters….maybe Santa will give me that 😉


Agnes November 9, 2009 at 10:35 pm

Ah, I so need to do this too! I would be interested in a weekly theme. 🙂


Fresh-lee November 10, 2009 at 12:49 am

What a great idea to tab your cookbooks as a 'to-do list' – that way you're much more likely to remember what the recipes you liked were and actually cook them. I'm going to take some post-its home from work today 🙂
I'm trying to use my cookbooks more, rather than just make dishes up in my head, or use online sources. Would definitely try to follow your weekly themes!


Rilsta November 10, 2009 at 10:09 am

Hi Kat: I have come to notice you may have a cookbook addition! I'll put you down but if someone picks a dessert, you can choose to substitute for something else!

Hi Anonymous: Thanks!! I hope I can keep it up for at least a year!

Hi Belle: Yeah, a lot of the cookbooks have great ideas and tips and I do read them – I just tend to forget them! 🙂

Hi Arale79: I just got Balance & Harmony the other day! I bought Mrs Lee's a month a go but haven't tried anything. Most of the food in there I have never heard of! Must be really true Nyonya cooking!

Hi Stephcookie: Thanks! I am hoping to use my cookbooks more!

Hi imasugarjunkie: Luckily I haven't gotten into food magazines, though I will probably get a food magazine subscription for Christmas!

Hi B1: Ooh, that's interesting about the meetup! But sounds like a lot of work too!

Hi Anita: Well, you can't stop someone from buying cookbooks from you now can you! 😛

Hi Conor: We shall see if I manage to stay strong! I have pretty low resolve!!

Hi Ange: Well, ideally it would be for the whole year (another 52 weeks). Until the end of 2009 is much easier! That's great that you cook from your cookbooks a lot!

Hi Shellie: Hehe… the Bourke St Bakery cookbook does look good! Stop tempting me! 😛

Hi Agnes: I was thinking of your comment when I thought up this challenge!

Hi Fresh Lee: Making a list lets me know what recipes I want to make, rather than just having a cookbook in front of me! Good luck with your tabbing!


Adrian @ Food Rehab November 10, 2009 at 1:05 pm

Ah yes, the cookbook saga. I've stopped going to the cooking section of bookstores for this very reason! I've given some away as they were bought on impulse rather than actual use! LOL

Goodluck with the challenge 🙂

BTW…I may be onto twitter soon. Although foodrehab is already taken! haha


Leona @ Pigged Out November 10, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Loving the idea of the cookbook challenge. I think its a great way to explore new avenues. Any idea on what next dish we should expecT? 😛


Towz November 11, 2009 at 12:29 am

Good luck with your cookbook challenge. Big ask. Look forward to reading about the 52 (at least) dishes!


Maria@TheGourmetChallenge November 11, 2009 at 10:32 am

Great idea! So many cookbooks and they never get used, I should do this too! I'm looking forward to the many varying and interesting dishes! BEST OF LUCK!


Ellie November 11, 2009 at 6:38 pm

I like this ideao so much. I am doing cold turkey. No new cookbook until the new year. It forces me to use the recipes of the current cookbooks 🙂


Gluten Shmooten November 11, 2009 at 9:42 pm

haha I have exactly the same problem – I love buying cookbooks and looking through them…then they sit on my bookshelf looking pretty. I definetly need to join you in this challenge…at least until Christmas time when I hope I will get some new cookbooks 🙂


Rilsta November 12, 2009 at 10:23 am

Hi Adrian: Yes, I am now going to try to avoid the books section of stores or places like Borders & A&R;! I also have a whole heap of novels I am yet to read and keep buying more!

Hi Leona: More details to come soon! 🙂

Hi Towz: Thanks!! 🙂

Hi Maria: There are a few people interested and I shall be posting about it soon! You should join!

Hi Ellie: You are always posting new recipes on your blog so I'm sure your cookbooks get a good use!

Hi Gluten Shmooten: I love your name! Look out for a coming post if you are interested in joining.


Mrs Multitasker November 13, 2009 at 2:08 am

Hello! This is awesome – we're all doing the Julie Powell thing!=)
I decided two months ago that I was gonna cook my way through Harumi's Japanese Cooking – a couple of recipes every weekend. It's been slightly stressful at various points, but on the whole lots of fun, and very satisfying!
I'll def be checking in on your blog to see how your project goes! And in case you ever feel like readin' about my project (right now i'm just aiming to get through the end of the year unscathed), you can see all my harumi posts at:

Lovely blog by the way!


Rilsta November 13, 2009 at 9:46 am

Hi Mrs Multitasker: Hehe, I never really thought of it as a Julie Powell thing! I just wanted a motivation to utilise my cookbooks more! Thanks for your comment – I'm going to check out your blog now!


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