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cookbook book club

jaq's picture

cookbook book club (post #63036)

I'm starting a cookbook book club for our bookstore in January. Here's what I think I'll use for guidelines:
1.from 4 to 6 people in the club- everyone must commit to attend meetings, not just drop in when they feel like it.
2. We'll meet every other month- cookbooks are expensive, and I want everyone to be able to play with their cookbook for a bit to get a feel for it.
3. Each meeting, the members will be assigned to cook something from one chapter of the book. Ie, one member will bring an appetizer, one will bring a main, one will bring a side, one will bring a dessert. We should have had time between meetings to play around with the book, try different recipes, and give each other feedback.

Here are the books I'm thinking about:
1. Tacos: by Mark Miller. We might have to change who brings what slightly, but tacos aren't intimidating to anyone here in Colorado and a taco buffet should be fun. (February)
2. Colorado Classique: new from the Denver Junior League. Our junior league makes FANTASTIC cookbooks, and this one just came out in June. (April)
3. Either Bobby Flay's Hamburgers, Fries and Shakes, or a Teahouse cookbook. I figure hamburgers and fries are easy and it will be summer. But maybe too easy? We have a teahouse that just opened next door to the bookstore, and maybe a tea would be fun instead. (June)
4. Serving Up the Harvest. I think this is a reprint of an older cookbook, but it's beautiful and in late summer everyone will be going to farmers' markets. (August)
5. Hungry Planet. This one is also a photo essay of how people around the world eat. It's got an ethnic component which I like, and also the pictures should stimulate discussion. (October)
6. Baked by Matt Lewis. This is my favorite baking cookbook right now. Good for holiday baked good exchange. (December)

Thoughts? I'm really excited about this and hope it will be a lot of fun. I tried to pick books that people can use in their kitchen over and over again (with the possible exception of Hungry Planet).

KarenP's picture

(post #63036, reply #1 of 19)

I love this idea.
The only thought that I'd have is with regard to the burger book. there are three or four new ones. Hubert Keller has one, Bobby flay, and someone slse. It might be fun to pick one, cook from it, and compare results.

MadMom's picture

(post #63036, reply #2 of 19)

I think this is a great idea.  Our bookclub has 8 members, which is a nice number.  The hostess provides all the refreshments, which might be better than everyone bringing something every time, but you know your people better than I do.

Not One More Day!
Not One More Dime! Not One More Life! Not One More Lie!

End the Occupation of Iraq -- Bring the Troops Home Now!

And Take Care of Them When They Get Here!

butterscotch's picture

(post #63036, reply #3 of 19)

I love your book club idea, too.  How about a book centered on vegetable cookery?  Or one centered on fish?  So many people are trying to eat healthier these days.

Also--and here I'm repeating something I've said in other posts--I think it's unfair that so many food writers/chefs have books that sell well simply because they're on tv a lot while other equally worthy food writers have books that sell miserably because they don't employ a PR rep, go on tour, or have a tv show.  I think it would be nice to spotlight some of the more obscure but wonderful food writers out there whose books can really broaden the horizons of the home cook but whom very few people seem to be paying attention to.  On my list of wonderful but somewhat obscure food writers are a number who have been frequent FC contributors--Abby Dodge, Pam Anderson, Molly Stevens, the late and lamented Leslie Revsin, Jim Peyton--as well as lots of others I discovered on my own (Ken Haedrich, Sonia Uvezian, Karen Lee, Ann Clark, Leslie Pendleton, Diane Worthington, Ed Giobbi and his daughter Eugenia Bone, just to name a few).  How about some love for the overlooked?

MadMom's picture

(post #63036, reply #4 of 19)

And if SWWNBN or Paula Deen are chosen, we shall take turns haunting the members of the club.

Not One More Day!
Not One More Dime! Not One More Life! Not One More Lie!

End the Occupation of Iraq -- Bring the Troops Home Now!

And Take Care of Them When They Get Here!

butterscotch's picture

(post #63036, reply #5 of 19)

It's a date.

Heather's picture

(post #63036, reply #8 of 19)

I have several Diane Worthington cookbooks and I get a much higher percentage of winners from them than I do from most cookbooks.

butterscotch's picture

(post #63036, reply #9 of 19)

Me, too, Heather.  I bought her Cuisine of California just before I got married, and I think it had a deep effect on the way I cook in general, as well as providing me with some all-time favorite recipes.  I stopped using it some years ago when my copy fell apart but recently took the pieces down from the shelf, looked through them, and realized how many good-looking recipes there were that I'd never even tried. I'm going to revisit it. 

Heather's picture

(post #63036, reply #10 of 19)

I don't have that one. I have The California Cook, The Taste of Summer, Seriously Simple, and The Taste of the Season. I haven't hauled them all out recently, I should check through for some old favorites and new ideas.

kathymcmo's picture

(post #63036, reply #11 of 19)

Based on your comments I started looking at her books on Amazon, and one of them looked familiar, so I checked my cookbook shelf. And I have Seriously Simple but didn't even know it! Never made anything from it but in leafing through it, it has some tempting recipes.

Like getting a new cookbook for free, LOL. Thanks for the mental prompt.

Heather's picture

(post #63036, reply #12 of 19)

I bought that book for a young friend, but she told me (before I gave it to her) that she didn't have any time to cook. So I kept it. Several years later, after she married, I gave her another copy--with annotations.

kathymcmo's picture

(post #63036, reply #13 of 19)

So what have you made from it that you liked?

Heather's picture

(post #63036, reply #14 of 19)

We've enjoyed all of these:
Orange sherry vinegar dressing
Orzo with leeks and yellow squash
Pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes--my favorite recipe in the book, although I use a lower ratio of pasta to sauce
Quick Bolognese
Baked pasta--this one has a lot of changes penciled in, more pesto, penette rather than penne, different cheeses
Goat cheese frittata
Roasted halibut with balsamic & garlic
Grilled tuna salad
Scallops with mint pesto
Crispy orange chicken
Spice rubbed chicken breasts
Chimichurri sauce
Broccoli purée
Baked eggplant with pesto
Roasted vegetables--nothing new, but delicious
Oven-cooked polenta
Strawberries & blood oranges with balsamic crème fraiche
Lemon lime pound cake

kathymcmo's picture

(post #63036, reply #15 of 19)

Thanks! List printed so I can keep it with the book. You've used it a lot!

Heather's picture

(post #63036, reply #16 of 19)

I went through a time when I had a lot of long busy days and I'd grab that book and find something doable.

Theodora's picture

(post #63036, reply #6 of 19)

Funny you should post this today...

I am in the planning stage for a cookbook/culinary literature book club at my library hopefully starting in winter. I've run the idea past quite a few of my patrons and they are raving. I have some speakers in mind to join us already, one on historic culinary literature, one on food in southern literature and why southerners talk so much about food. A friend currently living outside Geneva has promised to come talk with she is back about the adventure of trying to cook southern food in France and Switzerland. Right now I am thinking bi-monthly but it could go monthly. Hopefully have one cookbook, one non-cookbook choice each meeting. We shall see how the "refreshments" question develops depending on my group dynamic.

Jag, I'm glad you're doing this. Book clubs are great. Book clubs about food, what's not to like?

jaq's picture

(post #63036, reply #7 of 19)

SSWNBN will NEVER be a selection. I agree with you about the celebrity chef issue, and did think long and hard about Bobby Flay- I'm still not sure I'll use his book. I'm not sure if I'll attract more experienced cooks who don't need to have different versions of burgers, or ones who will think it's fun and will see Bobby as a familiar, reassuring face.

I think "Serving up the Harvest" features a lot of fresh produce recipes, so I think I'm covered there.

Your speaker ideas sound great! Maybe I'll look into some of our local food personalities for the club.

LucyLocket's picture

(post #63036, reply #17 of 19)

I'd love to know more about your store. I'm a bookseller in a chain store, but worked for 10 years for an independent bookstore.

Love the idea of a cookbook club. Another idea would be to do a group of cookbooks across a subject, something like soups. This would let you pull out the backlist titles as well as the new releases.

jaq's picture

(post #63036, reply #18 of 19)

Here's our website:

I think once I get a group together and get a sense of their experience and desires, I can tailor the books to that. This first year might be a bit basic, but I'm not sure of my audience yet.

Lee's picture

(post #63036, reply #19 of 19)

I belonged to a similar group 20 years ago when I lived in the suburbs.  We had, on average, about 12 to 15 people who attended every month.  Each person brought a dish from the selected cookbook of the month.  The dishes weren't assigned, and we sometimes had nothing but desserts or appetizers, but it was still fun and educational.  There were times when two or more members brought the same dish.  It was always interesting when the same recipe, made by different people, produced different results.  The bookstore still hosts a cookbook club, although none of the people I knew are still members.

BTW, my DGD is a student at CSU.