Imagine a website that acts as a magical little cookbook fairy. You spend a little upfront time telling it what cookbooks you own, by uploading the titles into a database. Then the website builds you this digital library of your book titles. And what happens is, over time, these little cookbook fairies and their wee digital fairyettes go through zillions of cookbooks, including yours, and they catalog the recipe titles from the indexes of all these books. Then they create this little searchable wonderland just for you.
They don't actually put the recipes on their site, because there's no need. After all, you already have the recipes, since you own the books. They just tell you which recipes are in which of your books, instantly.
So here's how I used it, just Monday: I wanted to make a buttermilk dressing, and I knew I'd seen a recipe for buttermilk dressing in one of my kajillion cookbooks at some point, but I really had no desire to start flipping through them all because that would have taken me 47 hours. So I had a choice. I could hang out with Google, Epicurious, or the million blogs by people I know and love, searching for a buttermilk dressing recipe that sounded good. And that would have been fine. But then all the books on my physical bookshelf, which I already own and love and trust, would cry real tears, dying slow, sad, and pitiful deaths since I so often ignore them in favor of the computer. "Use us!" they'd scream. "We have buttermilk dressing recipes right here! Tell that Google and those websites to suck it!"Or I could do this: go to my digital cookbook library, type in Buttermilk Dressing, and let the little fairies spit out the names of all the cookbooks I own with that recipe title. And that's what I did. And several books popped up, including The Gourmet Cookbook, and Ad Hoc at Home, which is the one I used.
And my dressing was delicious. And the process took minutes. And my books stopped crying.
The site is called Eat Your Books, and it's one of the most innovative, useful digital media tools for cookbook lovers I've come across in years.
I'm not sure if my enthusiasm is coming through. Is my enthusiasm coming through?
I interviewed Jane Kelly, the site's co-founder, but frankly, I can't make this post any longer or my computer will explode.
Another time, another time.