Friday, September 23, 2011

Book Booty

Cookbooks from the closing of Borders. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

 Nearly four years ago, when I was casting about for a name for this blog, I had two criteria. The title must begin with an "A" so that it would land near the top of alphabetical blogrolls, and it must express my love of two things: cooking and books. You see, I've spent too many years in bookstores, both as an employee and a customer, and I have a little problem with saying no to the voices that call to me from the stacks. "Take me home!" they say as they fall into my arms.

When we designed our kitchen, we built bookshelves all around to hold my collection of cookbooks.This is just a small part of the shelves - they go around three walls.

Kitchen. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books
Throughout the house, stacked on bedside tables, in corners, bookshelves and my pantry floor, are books, and truth be told, they're mostly cookbooks and food memoirs, with a little Gladwell and chick lit thrown in. I still have my very first cookbook, a paperback copy of "The Winnie-the-Pooh Cookbook" (my mom even let me make a quiche-like Cottleston Pie from it!).

My bookselling job ended last week when the lights were turned off and the locks turned counter-clockwise for the last time at Borders. You can read my melancholy story on Open Salon about the end of my bookselling days. Right now, though, I want to be one of the giddy bargain-hunters who loaded up on deals when the store tanked. Within about six weeks, I purchased at least 50 books and magazines, most of them food-related. Here's a selection:

Love Soup by Anna Thomas - a lively vegetarian soup cookbook, hoeing the same quirky row as Mollie Katzen's Moosewood books.

A trio of doorstopper-sized books published by Phaidon: 1080 Recipes by Ortega, Spanish cuisine; Silver Spoon and Silver Spooon Pasta, both on Italian cuisine.

Junk Foodie: 51 Delicious Recipes for the Lowbrow Gourmand by Emilie Baltz. A novelty cookbook with a novel gimmick - gourmet recipes created from snack foods. I picked it up as much for its visual style as its recipes.

Best Food Writing 2010, edited by Holly Hughes. Essays from Barry Estabrook, Francis Lam, Kim Severson, and many other favorite writers.

Gourmet's Guide Cheese from the bargain table, and it kind of has that book club look to it, but a very well done overview of the world of cheese. For $3 and some change, I think it will be a useful resource.

Two of food scientist Harold McGee's titles: On Food and Cooking, and Keys to Good Cooking. I've already used a tip from the latter in perfecting apple pie - drain the fruit, boil the liquid and thicken with starch.

Patricia Wells' Salad as a Meal a lovely, lovely book for diving into on a rainy winter Saturday, when all I want to do is dream of spring.

The Deluxe Food Lover's Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. An excellent reference book that is enjoyable just for browsing, flipping through and finding out something new.

One Big Table by Molly O'Neill. This is One Big Book - 880 pages - and is popping up on remainder tables and bargain book sites. Pick it up if you find it - it's a highly enjoyable, well-written tour of American kitchens.

David Tanis' Heart of the Artichoke - I already have a signed copy of the marvelous book. This is a copy to share.

The End of Overeating by David Kessler. I know there's a certain irony to including this, but Kessler's work on how food is manufactured and marketed in the U.S. has been on my must-read list for awhile.

My $1 box. I paid $1 apiece for these books on Borders last day. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Did you shop the Borders liquidation sale? What finds did you bring home?


kellypea said...

I'm still bummed about Borders, and I didn't go, but my husband did and called me from there to ask about what I was interested in. He brought home two lovely Phaidon books on Italian cuisine. Love your kitchen and the idea of a cookbook shelf up there!

Lucy@acookandherbooks said...

Hi Kelly, thanks for visiting! I'm looking forward to diving into the Silver Spoon books - lots of inspiration in those. Your DH did well calling for book suggestions!

Lynn Coulter said...

i'm suffering Borders withdrawal, too. At least I scored one of the cafe tables (it's my new craft table). My last Borders books haul consisted of:
House of Rain, by Craig Childs--about the disappearance of the Anasazi

The Turquoise Ledge--about turquoise and the SW

Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

A Martha Stewart cookie cookbook

--and a few assorted others. Made the chocolate chip/dried cherries cookies from MS's book and they were awesome!

Love your blog, BTW, and your recipes!

Jeanette said...

Now that is a cookbook collection! I meant to go check out Borders before the doors shut, but never made it, which might be a good thing, as I probably would have bought the store out!

Anonymous said...

We've never had a Borders and now you're making me wonder about all that I missed out on. I don't collect cookbooks, but you should see my office shelves (a row of three that circle the room at ceiling height) -- they're groaning and leaking books onto the floor.

I love the glimpse into your kitchen. It's dreamy!!

Bell :)

Carolyn said...

Wow, what a collection. My weakness is cooking magazines. I just fall for those glossy photos every time!

Lucy@acookandherbooks said...

Carolyn, I have a weakness for the foodie magazines, too! Another reason to miss Borders - that was the best newsstand in town.

Kelly Robinson said...

I knew I had a problem when I had to get a second bookcase in the kitchen!