Monday, June 27, 2011

Eat Your Books: The Likeliest Online Cookbook Organizer Yet

Posted By on Mon, Jun 27, 2011 at 8:20 AM

Eat Your Books is the latest and likeliest candidate for cookbook organizing, a great idea for people with big libraries or lots of books on a single subject. EYB works like this: you sign up, populate your bookshelf from their selection of 2,000 indexed and 85,000 unindexed books and counting, and then those books are yours to search. The idea behind EYB is that it helps you search all your books at once.

I went to my EYB bookshelf looking for a green tomato marmalade recipe that I couldn't locate and wa-hey! There it was in Putting Food By, by Janet Green. So I just walked to my bookshelf and pulled out the book. Beats the heck out of a Post-It note.

Because of copyright issues, you don't see the whole recipe, just the ingredients. What it does is help you find recipes in your library, and it's great if you have a big cookbook library.

EYB's roster of cookbooks is super-impressive. It includes plenty of trusted brands like Moosewood and Williams Sonoma, The Beautiful Cookbook series, and the Good Cook series from Time Life (but I doubt the fabulous Kodachrome photos are reproduced. ...)

It includes classics too good to be forgotten, like Giuliano Bugialli's Classic Techniques of Italian Cooking, The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook, Recipes 1-2-3 by Rozanne Gold, Lorna Sass' Cooking Under Pressure and The Supper Book by Marion Cunningham, which I loaned out a decade ago, never to see again.

My heart made an extra thud at the sight of books by Delia Smith, Lee Bailey, Ken Hom, Joyce Goldstein, Maida Heatter, Steve Raichlen, Nigel Slater, Ann Willan, Patricia Wells, Diana Kennedy, Caprial Pence, Nina Simonds, Gael Greene and Paul Prudhomme. These represent the tried-and-true of the previous generation of really fine cooks, chefs and teachers.

There are new titles and chefs, too, like the superb Heartland Cookbook by Judith Fertig, The Tupelo Honey Cafe Cookbook, The Fearless Baker, My Father's Daughter (the Gwyneth Paltrow cookbook), Heston Blumenthal's books and Hungry Girl by Lisa Lillien. There are magazine collections, too, like the popular
Southern Living Annual Recipes series and Saveur books.

I found three of my most specialized cookbooks — Cuisine of Armenia and Copeland Marks' Cooking Indian and Chinese Cooking from the Himalayan Rim — in the roster, along with Kosher Palette II, a community cookbook edited by yours truly, so I can confirm EYB has a deep and unusual list of titles.

And, EYB has developed a way to add food blogs to a recipe search—spiffarino!

About 2000 books are indexed so far, with another 85,000 available. Members can request that books be indexed.

There's a lot more you can do, like bookmark pages and create shopping lists, so clearly, it's a powerful tool, and I'm still learning. For instance, I'm not sure what I'll be able to do with the non-cookbook food books such as Marion Nestle's What to Eat, but am curious to find out.

An EYB membership is $2.50 a month if you want to be a short timer, and $25 a year.

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