Addiction

I have a problem.

There, I’ve said it. Now, isn’t that supposed to be the first step, half the battle, or count for something anyway?

Yes, I have a problem, an addiction really, and I didn’t realize it until just recently. I had an idea that perhaps there might be a small issue, but actually, now that I have faced the facts, I realize this is far more serious than I ever allowed myself to believe.

Sure I put up a good front, not letting on that lurking just below the surface, behind closed doors, heck even under the mattress that there was a secret I couldn’t bear to reveal to anyone. Not even myself.

Most of the time I keep it in check. Out of necessity really. I mean, addictions can be very expensive. Yet, where there’s a will, there’s a way, and somehow I find a way more often than I should.

Now, I’m not discounting that there are many addictions out there far more worthy of attention than mine. This is by no means meant to poke fun at such a thing. But in a way I think everyone has an addiction of some sort be it to sugar, television, smart phones, working out, or even gardening or say cooking (yeah, I’m definitely borderline when it comes to those last two).

My addiction isn’t serious in the sense that I could hurt myself or others, unless of course I find myself somehow trapped under the fruits of my addiction or Hubby finds out and tries to perhaps “help” me, in which case, YES, he could get hurt. For the most part though, the only consequences of my weakness are a lighter checkbook and the continuing shrinkage of space available to enable me. Although I don’t think there could ever not be enough room for just one more…

So, here it goes…without further procrastination…there’s no time like the present to fess up…it’s time to be brave and acknowledge one of my many shortcomings in life…

I am addicted to…of course to many of you out there this will probably come as no great surprise and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this and many of you share this same affliction…

Where was I?

Oh yeah, I am addicted to —

COOKBOOKS!

I know, I know. This isn’t the end of the world. Things could be worse. But if you only knew how many cookbooks I really have and how I never think I have too many. Sure I have those few gems proudly displayed on my baker’s rack in the kitchen, and a few sparsely placed about the house for show, but if you were to sneak a peek into the cabinets in my dining room or open any of the many binders hidden among the books on every bookshelf in the house, you’d find cookbook after cookbook after cookbook after personally compiled cookbook. And this is after I vowed to scale down and get rid of my collection.

Actually I’ve down scaled my collection twice thus far in my lifetime. The first time was after Hubby and I were married. I’d collected hundreds of cookbooks prior to our marriage with the good intentions of using each and every one of them until my fingers bled. Throw in a new house, two kids, home schooling, part-time jobs, and life in general, and cookbooks became the least of my concern. So at a garage sale I sold off more than 3/4 of my collection, keeping only those I truly used or just couldn’t part with.

Then, as the kids got older I began volunteering at our local library for their used book sales. What a little piece of heaven that was. Not only did this enable my cookbook addiction like never before, but I also acquired a passion for children’s books (here I managed to collect more than 5,000 children’s books), mysteries (who knew there were so many mystery series that included recipes), and Christmas books (everything from decorating ideas to cooking to traditions from around the world). In all, over the course of ten or so years I managed to fill our house and every bookshelf in it with more than 8,000 books.

When the kids graduated from home schooling and began schools outside the home, I began downsizing my children’s book collection. I donated more than 1/2 of them to an elementary school and then sold the rest to a book dealer for practically nothing. The Christmas books too have nearly completely been donated back to the library. I have only two bookshelves of children’s books and one of Christmas books in the basement. All of the mystery novels have been donated to local charities, except for a few that have recipes in them I don’t want to just copy and stick in a binder.

The cookbooks…well, this is another matter. While I did go through and scan recipes out of nearly 1/3 of them and then donate them to St. Vincent last year, there are still lots of cookbooks I just can’t seem to part with. And to make matters worse, a good friend of mine introduced me to America’s Test Kitchen and now I am addicted to their cookbooks, their website, and even on occasion their shows. (Thanks Suzanne!) So far I have bought five of their books off Amazon, found two at the library book sale, and have three or four in my cart on Amazon for whenever I get the money to buy them.

For me a cookbook is not just a collection of recipes. I read them like books and because of this, I prefer cookbooks that share the history behind the recipe, the theory that makes the recipe work, or any personal insight an author is willing to share. I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to read where a recipe originated, what ingredients were tried and then changed because they just didn’t work well, or how someone’s great-great-grandmother brought the recipe over from England when she came here with her husband seeking a better life. Danielle Steele, James Patterson, and J. K. Rowling have nothing on Mark Bittman, Julia Child, and Christopher Kimball.

Addiction, obsession, or quirky hobby — whatever you want to call it, for me cookbooks are it. There have been many other addictions through the years, but none have held on so long or so strong and I do believe this is one that is going to stay. It does go in spurts. Especially if someone happens to entice me with say watching an episode or two of America’s Test Kitchen (which opened up a whole can of worms — America’s Test Kitchen, Cook’s Country, Cook’s Illustrated) or perhaps sharing a movie with me (Julie & Julia – which led to a near obsession with Julia Child!), then all bets are off. (Again, thanks Suzanne!)

Anyway, I just had to get this off my chest. I’m really in a hurry now because I just got a delivery from the mailman. He has a box of three brand new cookbooks I got on sale and the evening is young, I’ve got a hot cup of caffeinated coffee, and Hubby is working in the office — and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

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7 responses

  1. I have one whole book case just for cookbooks… so I get the whole thing. I have not in resent years really added to the collection. I still feel the draw of buying them at yard sales and book sales and have to really think about if I have room for it, a worse for me Is tossing out a good southern living knowing I may want that one recipe inside. My mother in law did not even cook but loved cook books at least we use them!

    • It never ceases to amaze me how every cookbook seems to have so many different recipes and yet I tend to make many of the same dishes over and over again. I figure if I were to make the recipes in all of my cookbooks, I’d probably never make the same meal twice again. That’s just too exhausting to think about though. As much as I like to make some of the recipes and try new ideas, I still love my standby meals too. Many of my cookbooks are definitely just readers, while others are working books. Still, I love them all the same.

  2. I’m right there with you! I thought I’d weed down our collection when moving. I got rid of four. On my to do list this summer is copying recipes I want to keep and getting rid of more of the books. I read them, but only a few ever get regular use! Of course, I also used to collect a cookbook whenever I traveled to a new place, usually something locally based. This is great, except I have a few too many now!

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