I believe every graduate student needs a distraction. My most commonly used distraction is cooking. As I’ve previously posted, I love books and cookbooks are some of my favorite books to buy or receive as gifts. Cooking is a way for me to take my mind off of things because my attention needs to be on chopping, managing heat, and tasting (duh!).

I was recently inspired by a tweet posted by Bon Appetit magazine (@bonappetit). They posted a photo of a famous chef’s cookbook station and said “you can learn a lot about a chef by the cookbooks on their station”. I by no means want to degrade chefs by saying that I am one, but it got me thinking about what my shelf of cookbooks says about me.


A selection of my cookbooks

I have cookbooks I turn to all the time for the basic recipes that every cook needs in their arsenal. And I have other cookbooks that I proudly own, thinking one day I’ll have the time to cook the recipes in them. For instance, I love the entree recipes in Tartine Bread, but the bread recipes are just out of my range at the moment. Bread, to me, is something so down home and I love, love, love making it by hand. That’s probably why I have two bread books (and the pizza book that contains pizza dough and focaccia recipes). I think bread making is in our roots, our heritage. I use the same ingredients and techniques as my great grandmother. Bread doesn’t change with food trends, it doesn’t need to.

I think we all need to respect the forgotten skills of cooking (coincidentally the title of a great book by an Irish woman), but I do like following food trends. My husband often tells people that when I cook you don’t get a hamburger, you get a hamburger. Cooking new foods keeps things interesting in the kitchen.

Some of my favorite books on my shelf are ones published by Junior Leagues. Of course, I own Honest to Goodness from my hometown of Springfield, IL (also Abraham Lincoln’s hometown, hint the name of the book). Other Junior League publications I own include Peoria, IL, Chicago, St. Louis (specifically the Italian-American neighborhood called The Hill), and one from my favorite city, San Francisco.

When I told my mom about this blog post she asked me, “So what do your cookbooks say about you?” I laughed and replied, “That I like carbs.” She then proceeded to tell me hers represent “comfort.” Sadly, I couldn’t get a picture of my mom’s cookbook station in time for this post. I did tell my advisor, Dr. Shawn Rowe, about this post and he and Dr. Olga Rowe so kindly shared a photo of their cookbook shelf. I’ll have to follow up on what their cookbook shelf says about who they are.


Shawn and Olga’s cookbook shelf

So, what do your cookbooks say about you?

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