Remember that Amazon Kindle gift card I had, and how I wanted to be very thoughtful in how I decided to spend it? Well, I ended up buying three cookbooks with it: Molly on the Range by Molly Yeh, Cravings by Chrissy Teigen, and Budget Bytes by Beth Moncel. My thinking was that by buying the cookbooks of some of my favorite food bloggers (and, in Chrissy Teigen’s case, people), I would be supporting their work while I made new-to-me dishes in my kitchen. Oddly enough, at the time of my purchases, the former was more important to me, while the latter was just a bonus.
What I didn’t count on was how buying three cookbooks would lead me to wanting ALL OF THE COOKBOOKS.
Which is more than a little funny, actually, because I have been so busy the last few weeks since I acquired my new cookbooks that I’ve barely had time to cook at all, let alone from any of them. I made one recipe from Cravings, have one from Molly on the Range bookmarked for this weekend, and haven’t even started going through Budget Bytes. I also have an abundance of recipes from food blogs I’d like to try, and my schedule for the next six weeks is jam packed. If I’ll have time to cook at all, I’ll consider myself lucky. When time is limited, the least likely thing for me to do in the kitchen is try something new; I always go back to tried and true recipes I know by heart and can bang out in no time.
So why do I want all of these cookbooks? Like Crumb by Ruby Tandoh, Joy the Baker Over Easy by Joy Wilson, The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, Flavour by Ruby Tandoh, The Cardamom Trail by Chetna Makan, Nadiya’s Kitchen by Nadiya Hussain, The Great British Bakeoff: How to Bake by Linda Collister, The Dumpling Sisters Cookbook by the Dumpling Sisters, Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant, Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking by Dana Schultz… the list goes on and on and on and on.
(Why yes, I’m a huge Great British Bakeoff fan, could you tell? Also, I already caved on one of these cookbooks — Alice is sending me The Dumpling Sisters Cookbook along with two other UK-only books. Good thing international shipping costs an arm and leg or I would’ve asked her to send me all of the UK cookbooks on my wishlist!)
I have a vision where I am able to try out new recipes regularly, leafing through my carefully chosen cookbooks to find a recipe to make. I’d spend a Sunday morning cooking brunch from Joy the Baker Over Easy. I’d spend a weekend afternoon where I could bake bread from Crumb. I’d go to the farmers market the one weeknight they are open with a recipe from Flavour in hand, then go home and make it for dinner with enough leftovers for lunch the next day. I’d make cupcakes from The Great British Bakeoff: How to Bake and bring them into the office. I’d finally learn how to properly cook bok choi, a vegetable that has never been my favorite, thanks to The Dumpling Sisters Cookbook and impress my bok choi-loving boyfriend. I’d have a friend or two over for a night of hanging out and catching up over a cocktail or two from Seriously Delish. On days I feel like eating lighter or healthier, I’d make something from Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking.
The problem with these visions of mine is that they’re fantasies. My cookbook fantasy life, as appealing and wonderful as it is, is just that — a fantasy.
I love to cook, I love to bake, I love to create in the kitchen and share what I make with others. These facts have been true my whole life. But what also is true, at least as of right now, is that my apartment is small, my kitchen even smaller, and my schedule has me run off my feet most days. Until I find the time to cook and bake regularly from the selection of cookbooks and recipes I already have, I can’t run out and buy a new cookbook every time one catches my eye. Food blogs can tide me over when I’m really hankering for a new recipe, even though I will always prefer a cookbook over a screen in my kitchen.
Maybe that’s what I’ll do this summer — cook more. Somehow, in the midst of my weekend trips and long work days and nights out with friends and mornings spent at the gym and afternoons with a book or pen and paper, I want to find the time to cook and bake again like I used to, like I always wanted to. I’ll whip up Molly’s dark chocolate and marzipan scone loaf, Chrissy’s cacio e pepe, and Beth’s Italian baked eggs. Then, as I slowly work my way through the cookbooks I already own, I can cast my eye on a new one. Till then, though, it’s nice to daydream every now and then about my cookbook fantasy life…