Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What's Your Cookbook Quit Rate? + the Tip of the Iceberg

Here's the tip of my iceberg - lettuce, that is! We had three heads of iceberg growing very close together, so this morning I trimmed two as seen below. The third now has room to expand and the two that were cut will get new growth if the weather doesn't get really cold. This is a great trick that I just learned in the spring - instead of pulling up a whole lettuce plant, cut the leaves and you'll get new growth! There's a bonus as well, the new leaves grow much faster due to the established roots. If you're only familiar with the white balls of iceberg from the grocery store, try growing your own - it's green and leafy and really flavorful!

And speaking of lettuce, are you familiar with Quit Rates? (No, the two things are not related, but it cracks me up when people use that technique in conversation - you know they've just been waiting for an opening to bring out a new topic.) But, back to Quit Rates - this is a term usually applied to employees - it measures how many are willing to leave their current jobs without having other jobs. While looking through a pile of cookbooks last week, I thought of a new application for the term. I'm applying it to my cookbook stash. How long will I keep a cookbook that I don't use - or perhaps even never used? Do I wait until I get a new cookbook to replace it (Quit Rate of 0)? Or do I toss it now since my cookbook shelves are overflowing? If it has one good recipe should I keep it? Logic says no - copy the recipe and get rid of the book.

It's harder than one would guess to purge cookbooks, however. I love cookbooks - not just for cooking, but for reading. Over the years I've gotten rid of quite a few cookbooks, including the worst - a self-published Nouvelle Cuisine guide that was a housewarming gift from my realtor (isn't that one of the worst gifts ever? it's right up there with giving your child's teacher a photo of the child in lieu of an actual present). As the holidays quickly approach, I'm going to take a hard line with my cookbooks!

In addition to the keepers in the photo above, here are two old favorites I couldn't do without:

Tastebuds was written by three ladies from my hometown - one gardener, one cartoonist, and one cook. What makes it great is that it's chronological - there's a section for each week of the year with appropriate gardening info and recipes. What a great idea! It's been out of print for years, but could be the inspiration for an updated version. Any of you have a group of friends who could collaborate? The second book, Square Meals, is by Jane and Michael Stern. If you're familiar with their work, you'll know why it's a keeper. It was a gift in the late 1980s (when all my cookbooks fit on one small shelf!) and I think I read it cover to cover in one sitting. The subtitle says it all: Taste thrills of only yesterday - from Mom's best pot roast and tuna noodle casserole to Ladies' Lunch and the perfect living room luau. There's an updated version that might make a great present for the cook on your list!

I'd love to know your Cookbook Quit Rate and which cookbooks you just have to keep! As for me, I'm off to wash my lettuce . . .


  1. Love the Quit Rate application to cookbooks. We have TONS and just don't really use them. I had started a few times of weekly menu planning from a cookbook but that has fallen by the wayside!

    And, growing the lettuce intrigues me.... thanks for the hints!

  2. Jane and Michael Stern are timeless and wonderful and so amusing. That's what really determines whether I keep a cookbook. Some of them looked good when I bought them, but didn't deliver; all of the Frugal Gourmet books fall in that category. Some of the Junior League cookbooks were stuck in a time warp too. And...well, it helps if they have inspirational pictures. I also value specific ethnic cookbooks, including the Hungarian cookbook that I rarely use. When I have a craving for Hungarian food, there it is.

  3. Thanks for stopping by! I know exactly what you mean about the Junior League cookbooks - last year I threw away two from the early '90s. And as for weekly menu planning, I sometimes can get that organized, but not every week. Recently I saw a blog where the family's menu was posted with recipes for each day. I definitely could not do that!

    Happy Thanksgiving,

  4. Hey there I have recently heard of this new gadget called the demy electronic receipe reader it holdes all your receipes and it's really cool but about $300.00. I need one my receipe cabinet is overflowing.


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