What makes a cookbook a clunker and what do you do with them?
  • Zosia and I are elevating this thread (from a different forum topic) to its own discussion topic.

    What do you do when you think a cookbook is a clunker? How many recipes do you need to try, and then do you get rid of the book?
    I think I should get rid of some of my own cookbooks, but am strangely reluctant. Do any of you suffer from a similar problem, or do you purge regularly?
  • I have over 2000 cookbooks and just can't seem to get rid of any of them. I think I'm a borderline hoarder when it comes to cookbooks.
  • I definitely hang on to my clunkers….I figure I had a good reason for buying them and even if I can’t remember what it was, they deserve a place on my shelves!

    One of my clunkers is Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. It’s a highly rated cookbook but I’m not at all motivated to use it. Yet when I look at the recipes indexed on cookbooker, many of them look appealing…..I think I rely heavily on recipe names/titles in making my choices and there’s no handy list at the start of each chapter with this info in the book. I’ve decided to make cooking from it my next personal challenge.
  • Sometimes just one really bad review already is enough - though I haven't actually gotten rid of any of my cookbooks.
    I guess much depends on what kind of cookbook it is: was it expensive, would you think of it as an "important cookbook", was it bought new or second hand, or is perhaps a cheap, no-name production? Are all recipes more or less then same, does the book contain a lot of other useful information or at least beautiful pictures? What about the tone of writing? That said, there are a few, maybe a handful, books that I might be willing to seperate from if really (really!) necessary... but shh, don't tell my husband!
  • Friends, you are making me feel a bit better about my cookbook collection! It had not occurred to me to get rid of a cookbook until I saw this review from AJ. I had just picked up the reviewed cookbook (cheap, yard sale).
  • I very rarely get rid of cookbooks. There's some sort of backstory to all of them. I don't think much of Barbara Kafka's soup book, but it's still on the shelf.

    Some years ago I had a collection of Charlie Trotter's handsome but useless books. I'd bought them cheap on Amazon - they were about $60 each in Oz. I took them to a secondhand bookshop and got just about what I'd paid for them!
  • I’ve decided to get rid of one of my clunkers…..375 Sensational Splenda Recipes is taking up too much shelf space. I only bought the book because my husband, who has an extreme sweet tooth (3 tsp in coffee or tea!!!), decided years ago that Splenda (sucralose), a “natural” sweetener “made from sugar”, would be a good alternative. Until, that is, he discovered chlorine was used in the production of this product. He switched brands deciding that cyclamates (banned in the US I think) were the lesser of 2 evils!
    I still have to decide whether to toss it in next week’s recycling or inflict it on someone else.
  • I have only ever gotten rid of Julee Rosso's Great Good Food. I suppose there are good recipes in there based on some reviews here -- but back when I was learning to cook, I made a few that were terrible. Had I been more experienced, I would have realized that a step had been left out of the recipe, or a measurement was a misprint. But I just got rid of it ... I really want a well-tested cookbook and that recipe made me doubt the reliability of the editing/testing process. The only other cookbook I ever got rid of, I gave to a friend who liked it -- and ended up buying another copy as soon as I ran across it in a second-hand bookstore.

    Re: Bittman -- I have never bought one of his cookbooks because whenever I leaf through one of them at the bookstore or Costco, I don't find myself thinking "I can't wait to try this." On the other hand, I could not wait to get the new New York Times cookbook home.

    I have some "vintage cookbooks" that I never use but love to look at when I have time, and I will never get rid of them -- because I keep hoping to find the time to discover the wonders of James Beard, Craig Claiborne, Richard Olney and Simone Beck for myself.
  • I'm thrilled to be finally taking my cookbooks out of storage. However, I think I should use this as an opportunity to get rid of some. What defines a clunker? Only one bad recipe? I'm thinking about huckleberry - and that it seems to have lots of great stuff, and just a few that are really off. I will probably get rid of this Thai cookbook, as it is fairly americanized and seems to be more an advertising venue for Dole pineapple than anything else. What do you all think?
  • I have more shelf space than I'll ever need as we had built in book cases put in while I was homeschooling. I really need to go through those book and get rid of most of them.

    I have a few cookbooks I'll never use. Most of these are Food Network chef type cookbooks, gifts from my mother-in-law, or quirky cookbooks I thought might be fun at the time. I'm not attached to any of these - it just seems like more effort to actually go through them and bring them to Goodwill.

    I'm not sure what defines a clunker but if I had to pack my books to move I'd get rid of any that I'd never actually cooked from unless it had sentimental value (and I'm not particularly sentimental).

  • The only cookbook I can remember discarding had a title like "The Weight Watcher No Fat No Carbs No Taste Cookbook." Every single thing in it looked blah. I have no idea how we came into possession of it. It was in a pile of books to go to the library booksale donation when I ran out of newspaper and needed to start the grill... so it did make one contribution to cuisine.

    I think my definition of a "clunker" is a book which I just can't imagine myself using. Even terribly inconsistent books like Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker get to keep their place in my house if they have a couple solid or promising recipes in them.
  • hipcook, you seem to know me. I was so sure I would get rid of lots of cookbooks, starting with that thai cookbook that pushes you to buy dole pineapple. But then when I looked at my reviews, I saw a salad that we really loved, and back to the shelf it went. What I did get rid of was about a pile of spiral-bound cookbooks that came from various fundraisers (churches, schools, etc).
  • If an otherwise dud book has just one good recipe, it occurs to me that one could transcribe it (in my case to the recipe app on my iPad) and then dispose of the book. I haven't actually done this, of course.

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