I have a dirty secret.

Most cupboards, closets and pantries inside my house look like this:

That is what happens when you pull out cookbooks everyday. It is impossible to get them organized when you work a full-time job and have to do important things such as clean. Well, I mean, cleaning isn’t important to me, but it is to that guy I live with.

And the assorted muffin tins and cake pans? Don’t mind them. These is no more room for such things in our humble abode.

I try to organized my cookbooks (and this entire closet) every few weeks so I don’t feel the wrath of the Type A, OCD Mr. How Sweet. I figured while I have them all out here, why not share?

Lineup #1

Hungry Girl, Cooking Light Complete Cookbook, The Simple Art of Baking, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook and Better Homes and Gardens Soups and Stews.

Out of these five, I use Steamy Kitchen the most – the garlic butter noodles and pad thai are out of this world! Coming in second is Cooking Light, which I often use for ideas for daily lunches and dinners.

Lineup #2

Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Taste of Home Simple and Delicious, Katie Lee’s The Comfort Table, Williams Sonoma Savoring Soups and Salads, and Canyon Ranch Cooks.

This is a stack of favorites. I delve into each of these a few times a month. For everyday dishes, Katie Lee and Canyon Ranch rank high up there.

Lineup #3

The Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine, Something Old and Something New, Raw Food Real World,  Rachael Ray’s Just In Time, Giada’s Kitchen, Eat Drink and Be Vegan, The Sunday Night Football Cookbook, Rachael Ray’s Open House, Martha Stewart’s Cookies.

Let me guess. You are looking at these thinking “what the heck?!” Quite the diverse selection, eh? I have the raw and vegan cookbooks for a two reasons: first, I figure if anyone knows how to make vegetables taste delicious it is vegan’s and raw foodies. Second, I really love raw desserts. Enough said.

Out of these, I used Giada’s Kitchen and Martha’s Cookies the most. I hate to say that I have never tried a recipe out of either of the Rachael books, because nothing has ever appealed to me. The NFL cookbook has some awesome recipes in it – especially ones for the man!

Lineup #4

Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, Williams Sonoma Cookbook, Donna Hay Instant Entertaining, and Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.

I saved these ones for last for a reason – they are my absolute favorites! I open them at least a few times a week. I love the recipes, the writing, the pictures… Basically I want to live inside one of these cookbooks. Or all of them.

Of course, I also have some of these fabulous goodies laying around.

Some of the best recipes are found in these books put together for churches and communities. Ain’t no denying that!

And many of these treasures.

But I’ve already talked about those.

Some people collect dolls. I collect books. I love how they smell and look and feel. And it’s not just limited to cookbooks either. But if I show you the rest of my book collection, I think you may nominate me for Hoarders.

Now tell me – what is your must-have cookbook? The cookbook you can’t go one day (…or week) without? I’m always looking to add to my junk collection. List some of your favorites!

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66 Responses to “Step Inside My… Collection.”

  1. #
    Evan Thomas — September 17, 2010 @ 3:37 pm

    I am jealous! My collection is so small, granted I don’t even use the ones I have all that often.
    If you are at all interested in vegan baking/desserts, Sweet Utopia is one of my favorites. I make their cupcakes all the time.


    • Jessica — September 17th, 2010 @ 3:46 pm

      I got a ton of cookbooks when I got married (shower/wedding gifts w/ pots/pans) – when I was in college I barely had any either!


  2. #
    kay (eating machine) — September 17, 2010 @ 3:42 pm

    i adore williams sanoma cookbooks-they’re the best food porn. my parents own a bunch of them (a christmas one, a brunch one, a baking one, etc…) and i remember stealing them all off the cookbook shelves as a kid to stare at the pictures


  3. #
    Mansee — September 17, 2010 @ 3:42 pm

    You’re my hero…the only collection I have (and am proud of) is my shoe collection. But that one doesn’t feed me.

    With that said, my mom has this old notebook she’s had since before I was born (I’m 23) that she’s been writing recipes in. Without a doubt, that is my favorite cookbook. I remember the first time I got to write one of my own in there, I was so happy!


    • Jessica — September 17th, 2010 @ 3:44 pm

      Oh Mansee! Don’t you know that shoes are the other thing I collect?! I wish they could feed me too! :)


      • Kristina @ spabettie — September 17th, 2010 @ 3:45 pm

        I’ll do a post about MY shoe collection if you do one about yours… ;)

  4. #
    Kristina @ spabettie — September 17, 2010 @ 3:44 pm

    oh, this is just beautiful. :D

    I have a huge cookbook collection also… I love to just sit and READ them, don’t you?? I have so many, and I cannot begin to name a favorite. I love Pioneer Woman, Ina Garten, Silver Spoon, mmm, and then there are the ones simply called “crepes” and books entirely devoted to breakfast.

    um, I had two Rachael Ray books (gifts) and I sold them on eBay. eep.


  5. #
    Susan — September 17, 2010 @ 3:45 pm

    Ahhh, I still have a cookbook that the mothers of my kindergarten class put together. It’s priceless! The best chocolate chip oatmeal cookie recipe is in that book.

    My go-to is the Moosewood Cookbook. Vegetarian, which I am definitely not. But tons of creative meal ideas, a lot of them Middle Eastern-inspired, which is my favourite cuisine!


  6. #
    Erin @ The Houndstooth Apron — September 17, 2010 @ 3:49 pm

    Oh Jessica. I think I’ll post my library on my blog so you can feel better about your…problem. Seriously, I have a two bedroom townhouse. One bedroom is mine, one is the library. It’s major. I’m with you on the Rachael Ray’s – not so great. I had a Giada and Ina moment a few months ago. And the magazine clippings…yikes.


    • Jessica — September 17th, 2010 @ 3:59 pm

      I’m a magazine/mag clippings hoarder too!


  7. #
    Annie — September 17, 2010 @ 3:54 pm

    I have everyone of Rachael Ray’s cookbooks. I think it is hard to pick recipes out of them due to the lack of pictures. That being said – the majority of her burgers are out of this world. Also, her stoups. Based on your recent buffalo chicken kick, I bet you and the hubs would love her buffalo chicken chili with blue cheese corn bread toppers – go here http://www.rachaelraymag.com/Recipes/rachael-ray-magazine-recipe-index/soup-recipes/Buffalo-Chicken-Chili-with-Blue-Cheese-Corn-Mug-Toppers

    I swear, I am in no way paid or endorsed by RR. :-D

    My family rules at book hoarding. Seriously, almost every wall in my parent’s home has at least one bookshelf – if not five.


    • Jessica — September 17th, 2010 @ 3:59 pm

      Annie! You hit the nail on the head. I had actually written that out in the post but it was becoming too long-winded. That is exactly right – I rarely pick something from the lack of pictures. But when I watch her show, I usually enjoy the things she is making, you know?

      Thanks for the idea – that sounds great!


  8. #
    Nicole @ Making Good Choices — September 17, 2010 @ 3:59 pm

    I love any Giada cookbook or Martha Stewart. If my pants wouldn’t hate me I’d cook out of Giadas every single night. Love.


  9. #
    Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg — September 17, 2010 @ 4:00 pm

    I LOVE cookbooks!!! I love it that we have the same cajun and creole cuisine book :-)


  10. #
    Mary (What's Cookin' with Mary) — September 17, 2010 @ 4:06 pm

    This may sound weird, but one of my favorite cookbooks is the William Sonoma crockpot cookbook. Told ya! WEIRD

    I love cookbooks, but honestly never buy any bc I feel ilke I can get most things online and I do not heart clutter. Mr How Sweet and I have one thing in common… A messy cupboard/ closet makes me nuts! ;P Anyway… Any cookbooks I have were given to me…

    My second favorite is ina’s back to basic’s… She’s got such great simple, TASTY recipes… just have to cut back a stick of butter or two ;)


  11. #
    Chrissy DeVono — September 17, 2010 @ 4:13 pm

    I have only just begun my cookbook collection… I work at Williams-Sonoma and get to see all the new books when they come in and then I either put them on my Christmas list or wait for the big summer sale every July & then grab a couple… one of my most used is the WS Collection: Muffins – so many great easy recipes and then I freeze half the batch for later :) I use the Pilsbury Book of Baking for choc chip cookies, lemon bars & snickerdoodles… I find I pick one or two favorite recipes from a cookbook and then just keep going back to that one. I also have Cooking Light book that’s a good weeknight go-to and there’s the absolute classic… The Joy of Cooking – great Jambalaya & Beef Stroganoff recipes!! There’s a great used bookstore in Akron that I check out all the time for fabulous deals on cookbooks!! So many good eats, so little time!


    • Jessica — September 17th, 2010 @ 4:21 pm

      I am so envious! I want to work there so badly, but the closest one is about 40 minutes away.


  12. #
    Tina — September 17, 2010 @ 4:33 pm

    This is great!!! I need to get some cookbooks but never know what to pick out of the insanely large selection.


  13. #
    Chrissy — September 17, 2010 @ 5:02 pm

    I love to look at cookbooks, but frankly, I might find ONE recipe I want to make out of the whole book. I much prefer browsing recipes online. And I’ve definitely made more than a few of yours!


  14. #
    Taylor — September 17, 2010 @ 5:27 pm

    That is a LOT of cookbooks…I’m jealous!! How is the Cooking Light Complete Cookbook? Worth buying?


  15. #
    Danielle — September 17, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

    My fav cookbook is actually more like a food encyclopedia that also has tons of recipes… it’s “The World’s Healthiest Foods” by George Mateljan… it gave me so many valuable tips!


  16. #
    Susan — September 17, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

    Ah we have all the 3 rivers cookbooks too! their zuke bread recipe (can’t remember which #) is the best!

    nice to find another burgh blogger!


  17. #
    Ivy — September 17, 2010 @ 5:48 pm

    I, too, am a book hoarder and have my fair share of cookbooks (3+ bankers boxes here next to me and 4 or 5 more boxes in the garage…and did I mention the 3 foot bookshelf stuffed to the gills with cookbooks and cooking magazines?

    I really should filter through them and give away the ones I never use, but with a toddler running around, I just can’t seem to find the time. She’s just move books from one stack to another and confuse everything I’d already sorted.

    Anyhow, there are three that I continually refer back to:

    For day-to-day and comfort foods, Portland’s Palate (Junior League of Portland)

    For lighter fare: The Best Light Recipe (America’s Test Kitchen)

    and for those short-on-time-but-i’ve-got-to-feed-the-family nights, I usually go to: Meals Made Easy (Real Simple)


  18. #
    Liz @ Blog is the New Black — September 17, 2010 @ 5:54 pm

    Loving your recipe book collection. I have a few of those, too!


  19. #
    Lauren at KeepItSweet — September 17, 2010 @ 5:55 pm

    love it, i have a similarly diverse collection… although with a huge emphasis on desserts:-)


  20. #
    Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) — September 17, 2010 @ 5:57 pm

    I have quite the collection as well. It’s a problem, I need both Pioneer Woman’s and Steamy Kitchen’s books. I have looked at both but don’t own either!


  21. #
    Cara — September 17, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

    I love cookbooks collections.
    Whenever I go to a new persons house I always try to
    take a peak at what cook books they have…I think it says a lot
    about a person. I’m not a creeper, I would only look if they were on
    display :)


  22. #
    Kat — September 17, 2010 @ 6:07 pm

    omg I love cookbooks. I definitely need to extend my collection though. I guess I spend more time looking up recipes online rather than the cook books. But I do love the pictures and the amazing stories/front covers that go along with them.


  23. #
    Wei-Wei — September 17, 2010 @ 6:41 pm

    That is the awesomest collection of cookbooks I have ever, ever seen. I feel cheap because I never buy any (online recipes, yo!)


  24. #
    Melissa (MelissaLikesToEat) — September 17, 2010 @ 6:48 pm

    I love all the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks!


  25. #
    Heather@3kidsandlotsofpigs — September 17, 2010 @ 7:08 pm

    I really like my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. I have found some good dessert recipes in it, but I too find it very hard to beat the fundraiser cookbook although I do have a few duds of that kind.

    Thanks for letting us know that you love your Barefoot Contessa cookbook. I’ve been debating on getting it my mother-in-law for Christmas and this was the endorsement I needed.


  26. #
    ida — September 17, 2010 @ 9:03 pm

    I only have two cook books- that’s why I NEED websites like yours:)


  27. #
    the country cook @ Delightful Country Cookin' — September 17, 2010 @ 9:39 pm

    I am in LOVE with Gooseberry Patch books. Those tried and true recipes passed down from generations make for some fabulous cooking. Their newer books and Christmas books have pictures, which makes them even more awesome. I just acquired their new Halloween bookazine (you can find it in magazine racks) – I’m in love. The others are Taste of Home’s Light and Tasty cookbooks. I think they’ve since changed the name of the magazine. I use those ALL the time.


  28. #
    Stacey (The Habit of Healthy) — September 18, 2010 @ 12:20 am

    Man that is an epic collection of cookbooks!


  29. #
    Mimi (Gingersnaps) — September 18, 2010 @ 12:45 am

    I collect cookbooks too! Hehe, I love Raw Food, Real World…even if none of those recipes are what I’d make in the “real world” without 12 hours of spare time…unless I cheated and whipped out the oven.


  30. #
    Amy — September 18, 2010 @ 3:01 am

    I love my cookbooks too! My favorites that I use most often are all of the Barefoot Contessa ones, several “community” type ones, and The Sopranos family cookbook is lots of fun. My absolute favorite though are the Susan Branch books. Tons of great recipes, no actual photos, but her artwork is adorable, and they are alot of fun to read. I had to stop getting cooking magazines in the mail because I’d save them all and they were overtaking my house. :)


  31. #
    Anne@ Food Loving Polar Bear — September 18, 2010 @ 3:15 am

    I’m a book collector too, I have seriously too many books and not enough space for them :D


  32. #
    MelissaNibbles — September 18, 2010 @ 4:55 am

    Wow, I have about 6 cookbooks and I thought that was a lot! haha! I like Katie Lee’s cookbook a lot and Veganomicon is a good one too. I just bought Padme’s cookbook, but haven’t opened it yet. Obviously I like cookbooks written by pretty people. I figure they know how to eat and look pretty so I should cook what they do. I’m dumb.


  33. #
    Kristin (Cook, Bake and Nibble)) — September 18, 2010 @ 5:21 am

    I love cookbooks. Eat, Drink and Be Vegan is my top Vegan cookbook, it is well loved. I also LOVE The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters and SuperNatural cooking by Heidi Swanson. Oh, and you can’t go wrong with Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child herself :D



  34. #
    Kim in MD — September 18, 2010 @ 6:03 am

    Ok, Jessica, since you are confessing I will, too! I am a total “foodie”. I have been collecting cookbooks for many years. I read them like some people read novels (although I read those, too)! At last count I had over 700 cookbooks-that’s right-700+ cookbooks and counting! My husband and I purchased a home 2 years ago and did a complete and total renovation (almost complete). My study is lined with built-in bookcases just for all of my cookbooks! I like to be organized, so I group them by mostly by cuisine, but I keep all of the Food Network personalities grouped together. I have enough shelves for approx. 1100 cookbooks, so I can keep adding to my collection in the years to come. Luckily, my teenage daughter is a “foodie”, too, so she will someday inherit my collection! :-)

    My favorite cookbooks? The Barefoot Contessa (I have all 5 of them) and Giada DeLaurentis ( I have all of them). They are beautifully designed and the recipes are amazing! I also love The Pioneer Woman’s and Steamy Kitchen’s cookbooks. I am anxiously waiting for Smiitten Kitchen’s cookbook to be released. Now- more importantly, when are you publishing your cookbook? I will save a spot for it on my Food Blogger shelf! Ree, Jaden and Deb’s books will need company! :-)


    • Jessica — September 18th, 2010 @ 6:13 pm

      Okay I KNEW there was a reason we got along so well! I would do anything to come see you collection.


      • Kim in MD — September 19th, 2010 @ 6:31 am

        You don’t live that far away. If you are ever in Maryland, give me a shout-you have an open invitation! :-)

  35. #
    CaSaundra — September 18, 2010 @ 6:12 am

    You can never have enough cookbooks!!!


  36. #
    Chicago Cuisine Critique — September 18, 2010 @ 6:16 am

    If i’m being completely honest, the cookbooks I have I hardly ever use unless i’m completely out of ideas (which rarely happens). My go to “cookbook” is the internet. Foodnetwork.com (Yum!) is my favorite. And of course, most food bloggers (like yourself) have fabulous recipe ideas which have kept my cookbooks in the pantry, untouched. Maybe I should dig into these a little more. Thanks for the inspiration.


  37. #
    barefootgirl27 — September 18, 2010 @ 6:19 am

    Wow!! quite a collection.

    You’ve inspired me to take a picture of all of mine.. of course that requires collecting them from every room in the house… I’m not quite as neat as you to have them all make it back to one cabinet. ;)

    My one ‘go to’ cookbook…probably The New York Times Cookbook, but honestly, I couldn’t bring it down to just one.

    my very favorite….


    but that’s another story


  38. #
    linda — September 18, 2010 @ 7:21 am

    baked: new frontiers in baking…adore this book…many, any treasures inside those pages!


  39. #
    Maissa — September 18, 2010 @ 7:25 am

    The Earthbound Farms Organic cookbook:Food to Live By. It is OUTSTANDING. I have never made anything bad out of it, it has great pictures and hundreds of recpies. I use it at least twice a week.


  40. #
    Camille — September 18, 2010 @ 8:04 am

    What an amazing collection!
    I just recently bought Deserts 4 Today by Abigail Johnson Dodge. Each desert uses only 4 ingredients and I love it!! She’s broken them up in 5 categories, cookies, creamy desserts, frozen desserts, fruit desserts and pastry desserts. I mean Nutella Fudge Brownies, Crushed Raspberry-Mascarpone Whip, Coconut Creme Caramel…. I could go on forever! Seriously, check it out!


    • Camille — September 18th, 2010 @ 8:08 am

      She also offers suggestions for each recipe for “gussying it up” if you want to be a little more fancy!


  41. #
    Caitlin — September 18, 2010 @ 8:06 am

    I own a few cookbooks and I’m sure you know how many times I crack those babies open in a month, let alone a year. However one that has lots of beautiful photos and some great comfort food is Paula Deen Celebrates: Best Dishes and Best Wishes for the Best Times of Your Life. If you like butter, I think you’ll appreciate.


  42. #
    Heather @ Side of Sneakers — September 18, 2010 @ 8:24 am

    Wait…cabinets aren’t supposed to look like that? I’m in trouble ;)
    I love your cookbook collection!! I have a bunch but rarely open them…when I do, I love Williams Sonoma Weeknight Cook, Giada’s Everyday Pasta, Cooking Light Simple Suppers (or something like that), and the Sonoma Diet cookbook.
    Hmm…maybe I should pull these out a little more ;)


  43. #
    Erin — September 18, 2010 @ 8:42 am

    Love the collection! Cookbooks are my favorite.

    I think I have Mary beat on the “weird” book choice (her word not mine – I personally love crockpot cookbooks, I just can’t think far enough in advance to use them). It’s called Towns, Trails and Special Times: The Marlboro County Cookbook. http://www.amazon.com/Towns-Trails-Special-Times-Marlboro/dp/1112568530

    I don’t smoke, nor do I endorse smoking. My father was a big smoker for many years, and in the days that Marlboro had “points” on the boxes you could buy things with, many of our Christmas gifts came from those points. Regardless of it’s less than savory origin, I love this cookbook. It has some of the best chili recipes I’ve ever made and the One Pan Chocolate Cake might be the easiest thing to whip up and impress someone with ever.


  44. #
    Kath — September 18, 2010 @ 12:51 pm

    I love Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, Diane Rossen Worthington’s Seriously Simple, and Arthur Schwartz’ Naples at Table.

    It’s fun to compare notes–great post!


  45. #
    Diana @ frontyardfoodie — September 18, 2010 @ 4:01 pm

    I just cleared out my cookbook cabinet and it was hard! Even though I’m a cook not a baker I use cookbooks for inspiration but not usually to actually follow recipes.


  46. #
    Becca — September 19, 2010 @ 6:55 am

    oh Sweetie…. I truly hate to be the bearer of bad news (for Mr. How Sweet), but you will need to add a couple more lovely books to your collection soon. Of course, I AM willing to do a temporary trade so that neither of us has to find room for yet another cookbook in our humble abode.
    I’ll take the Cooking Light cookbook temporarily off of your hands in exchange for my copy of Taste Of Home’s “Comfort Food Diet” cookbook. Then I’ll trade you my “Big Book of BBQ” for your Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine”….. *thump thump thump* goes the beat of my heart….


  47. #
    Low — September 19, 2010 @ 8:38 am

    I have several cookbooks but I must confess that I rarely use them. I tend to only make a recipe once and even if I love it I rarely repeat. I need to bust them out more often though!


  48. #
    Alisa - Frugal Foodie — September 19, 2010 @ 10:50 am

    I’m not vegan myself, but do love Eat Drink and Be Vegan and raw desserts do rock!

    I’m going to add Steamy Kitchen to my wish list … what type of food is Canyon Ranch? I will have to look into that one.


    • Jessica — September 19th, 2010 @ 11:29 am

      It is definitely lighter fare – there are some excellent recipes in there!


  49. #
    Sues — September 19, 2010 @ 11:53 am

    I collect books too :) I TRY not to buy a lot of cookbooks because of space, but I seriously want to grow my collection now in the hopes that one day I’ll have a HUGE library in which to put them :) I love my Martha Stewart books, Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, and Pioneer Woman :) I SO need Steamy Kitchen’s book!


  50. #
    Trish — September 19, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

    Ahhh, you’ve inspired me to dust off my cookbooks and dive back in. I cook a lot, but I seem to leave my inspiration to the food network or food bloggers. I know there’s a lot I’m missing by not pulling those suckers out more often!



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