Cookbook Hoarders United–CHUsdays have arrived.

Read this blog, then drop everything else, go into your kitchen or wherever you happen to keep your cookbooks, and tell me how many you have.  Next, tell me how many of them you’ve used in the past year?

Are the numbers staggering?  Do you have cookbooks your mother gave you for Christmas 1957, cookbooks passed to you by your favorite aunt before she retired, cookbooks you purchased to support your local PTA or hospital auxiliary?  How about diet cookbooks, ethnic cookbooks, cake mix cookbooks?   Any kind of specialty cookbooks that seemed like a good idea but never got opened, much less used?

Caught you, didn’t I?

I’ll confess I have all the above.  What’s worse?  I can’t seem to stop buying them.  Nor can I bear to part with most of them.  Inherited cookbooks?  Ah, the memories of that truly horrifying tuna casserole topped with crushed potato chips that was my mom’s specialty.  Can’t throw that away.  Or the Indian cookbook with the curry recipe that starts by frying chicken bones after pounding them with a mallet.  (Scrumptious and unrepeated.)  South Beach.  Sugar Busters.  Adele Davis–that one got pitched.  But others?  So, so many others lining my bookshelves and groaning in stacks under my coffee table.

Cooking at home is a great way to save money, to exercise creativity, to try new foods fixed in ways you can control.  Yet most of us are so busy that when we do cook, we fall back on old standbys.

Well, cookbook hoarders, unite!  CHU is here.  (Say it out loud.  Get it?)  Together this next year we’re going to open those old cookbooks, choose recipes and make them!  Then we’re going to share our reviews, and if we think they’re good enough, share our recipes with all proper citations.

Here’s all you have to do.

  1. Take the CHU pledge. Each month “try” to make one recipe from a cookbook you haven’t used in a year.  Please comment here to let us know you’re on board.
  2. Once the dish has faithfully been made, comment here or on any CHU blog with the name of the recipe, your review, and any anecdotes connected with it.  Humor is good, pathos is better. 
  3. If asked and if you feel so inclined,  share the recipe to post here for other CHU members.
  4. Make a conscientious effort to stretch your food horizons and perhaps eat healthier this next year.

I would never have attempted this project without the enthusiasm of my Facebook buddies who suggested I actually follow through with the idea. In exchange for the enthusiasm and commitment of everyone who participates? 

  1. Each month I’ll do a random drawing of every cookbook hoarder who’s tried a new recipe from a hibernating cookbook (or a new one that hasn’t yet been used) that month.  That lucky winner will receive an autographed novel and some small and silly kitchen implement. 
  2. At year’s end, we’ll have a grand prize drawing of everyone who’s participated.  Grand prize to be announced, but you’d better believe there will be cookbooks involved.

We’re not going to hold you to too many details.  You used it eleven months ago?  Nobody’s counting.  You can choose one unused cookbook and make several recipes.  You can use a different cookbook every month.  The point is to try new things and give old cookbooks some exercise.  And if you can’t find something you want to try?

Time to donate that cookbook to your local library sale.

I see lots of potential here.  Have cookbooks you’d like to trade?  Maybe we can arrange that.  Need advice on how to proceed with a complicated recipe?  Just ask.  Someone will know. 

Next week, my first CHU recipe.  What will yours be?  Remember, NO OLD FAVORITES!  Try something new.  That’s a requirement.

My Tuesday blogs are now CHUsday blogs.  I’ll tell you about my successes and failures, and I hope you’ll do the same, so I can publish them here. 

Let the party begin.  Where will you start?  It’s summer.  Thinking salads?  Ice cream?  Frosty tropical punch?  Let us know.  Have fun with this, because that’s the purpose.  Ya’ll cook.  Starting right now!


  1. Margi Borck on August 2, 2011 at 9:35 am

    I have 4 cook books. 2 are from my paternal grandmother and 2 are local church cook books. I also have approximately 40 recipes printed from the internet, would have to call this a collection of go to recipes that I tried and love. I have used all 4 cook books as well as the internet recipes in the last year.
    My daughter and I have a tradition we started about 2 years ago called Fat Sunday. It is the only day of the week that I can cook, eat, drink whatever I want no matter the fat content. LOL I actually use it to try out new recipes on Krissy and her friends and family, lo and behold they end up being pretty healthy meals! I guess it is our twist on the traditional Sunday Family Dinner!

    • Emilie Richards on August 2, 2011 at 10:12 am

      You are definitely NOT a cookbook hoarder, Margi. But if you’d like to join us by making something new and untried from your collection, do come along.

  2. Nancy Badertscher on August 2, 2011 at 10:53 am

    98 cookbooks – including one I got as a gift for my first wedding in 1966. Used in the last year – 7 at the most, and some of those were just consulted, not anything actually made from them. The first one I am going to crack open is Atlanta Natives’ Favorite Recipes. It was a birthday gift from one of my sisters-in-laws 33 years ago this month. Another reason I am starting with this one is that we just moved back to the Atlanta area last year after leaving here in 1979 for my husband’s work. Now he is retired; I’ve been retired for 6 years, but haven’t done much cooking beyond the expected during that time. I haven’t looked in this one yet – that will be my rule — that I have to pick a cookbook without looking inside for possible candidates before choosing it. Just told DH about this plan – he was appalled by the number, not surprised by the low number consulted, and is looking forward to the new recipe!

  3. Mary C in WA on August 2, 2011 at 11:02 am

    I have a lot of homemade cook books, a couple are spiral bound one is on index cards with big rings from the college I attended. Count them? Some are in a box in the garage! that means going out there with the spiders… I count 17 on the kitchen shelf today. My favorites the Make a mix ones. Love the pudding mixes I can make for my Chocolate PIE! Bought some Zucchini so I’ll have to find a recipe for that.

  4. Sherry D on August 2, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Well, I just counted 34, but I know there are more at our vacation house because I took them up there. Plus my Mom’s cookbooks are there. In my stash are a few that I go to for info like the veggie book for veggies or an old Betty Crocker book for basics. The funny thing is that I replaced the Betty Crocker book recently through a used book place online, but when I counted I realized that I didn’t get rid of the old one that is falling apart – I kept both of them! Crazy!

    • Emilie Richards on August 2, 2011 at 1:24 pm

      So delighted you’re all checking in. Love Nancy’s rule: You can’t check for recipes ahead of time. Choose a cookbook and make the commitment before you open it. Not hard and fast, but bet that will increase the fun. I’m away from home, but brought two “unused” cookbooks with me. One was a b’day gift I haven’t had time to use, the other is Cooking Light–an old edition, I think. I’m planning to make recipes from both this month. Can’t wait!

  5. Wanda on August 2, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Emilie- I’m in. I have at least 100 or close to. We need to cull our collection.

  6. Kay Myhrman-Toso on August 2, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    I stopped counting at 50 cookbooks, deciding this qualified as needing an intervention. The cookbook that I intend to use the most is the one I created from clipped recipes. My goodness, they are even sorted by category and covered by page protectors! What was I thinking? Generally I ascribe to the notion that the more spills on the page or recipe card, the better the recipe! I’m looking forward to finding some new favorites, even if my litmus test of spills won’t be valid with those page protectors. Now what shall I try first?

  7. Kathi Noland on August 3, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    I have enough that my cookbook shelf collapsed, so my husband made a new one of oak. Ahem.

    He hinted that a few less might be a good thing.

    I cannot even count them, let alone count the ones I have never used. Community cookbooks and vintage cookbooks are a weakness.

    But! I’m ready to get started. Thanks!

    • Emilie Richards on August 3, 2011 at 5:28 pm

      What a guy! He’ll be proud of you, I’m sure.

  8. Rebecca Booth on August 7, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    I have too many cookbooks to count, but my favorite is from my Mom, who died when I was a teenager. She was a farmer’s wife, and knew how to save food from her garden and make many great recipes from the stock. Those recipes are very precious.

  9. Holly Senecal on August 11, 2011 at 11:28 am

    I have 15 cookbooks plus an old recipe box chock full of clippings of recipes that i loved the idea of.That is not including the box I got as a gift that is a Hersheys keepsake box filled with Hershey dessert recipes 🙂 The one I pulled for this weeks recipe was one of my Irish cookbooks. Thus far, I have been too “chicken” to try anything from that one. But this week I made my own brown bread! my kitchen smelled wonderful, I made a wonderful meal and my family was all home in one place. we sat down at the table, chatting and listening to the Harry Potter books on audio cd. Sounds like a nice time right? yes, hmmm…it was. Then my husband got up and said,” Hon,it was good, but I like the kind that pops out of the can better” Oy. The recipe however was easy and i will share it here:
    2 eggs 2 cups packed brown sugar
    2 cups buttermilk 2 cups of graham flour
    2 cups sifted all purpose flour 2 tsp bkg soda
    1 tsp salt
    beat eggs. add dry ingredients then buttermilk. Stir in graham flour. sift remaining dry ingredients together and gently stir into first mixture. Don’t over mix (did this the first time and it was brown cement). place in 2 greased bread loaf pans and bake 45 minutes in 350 degree oven. makes 2 loaves. Despite what my husband said, this was good and better than the canned stuff! 🙂 Enjoy!

    • Emilie Richards on August 12, 2011 at 10:23 am

      Tell him that Emilie’s smacking her lips! Yum and thanks!

  10. Patti on August 27, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    I have well over 100 cookbooks. Some on shelves, others stashed here and there. Seems I rarely use them to come up with something new to cook.
    Tonight I made Orzo with Roasted Tomatoes and Hot Sausage from Come for Dinner Memorable Meals to Share with Friends by Leslie Revsin. The recipe seemed to be lacking flavor. Because it didn’t call for cooking the Italian sausage separate and draining, it was a bit greasy. I won’t let this recipe keep me from trying others in this book.

    • Emilie Richards on August 27, 2011 at 8:18 pm

      Sounded fabulous. Too bad it didn’t live up to it’s potential.

  11. Tina on August 28, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    This is embarrassing! I stopped counting at 129. I know I have at least two boxes of cookbooks that I have in the garage and obviously do not use them! I also have more on another bookshelf. The 129 also does not include My Master Cook Software which has at least 30 cookbooks and the entire collection of Betty Crocker! Not to mention the one’s I have created. Did I mention my daily e-mail from All Recipes and my recipe box there? LOL! Gosh, I am a true CHU!

    I am in the process of converting our eating habits to that described in “The New American Plate” which comes with health recipes. While I have made several of the recipes, I have not made a new one recently. One of my goals for the year was two new recipes a month. I was doing well until summer, now not so much.

    Thanks for the kickstart and I will be back on with the recipe I make either today or tomorrow!

    Good luck everyone and I look forward to “hoarding” your recipes too!

    • Emilie Richards on August 28, 2011 at 2:34 pm

      Wow! It’s nice to be needed. Glad you’re on board. We look forward to your contributions.

  12. Wendy Jo on September 1, 2011 at 10:11 am

    -I have over 150 cookbooks and continually collect them!!!! I havent been using them as I should I believe it is time to either use them or get rid of them (donating to a local library for a used book sale)

    • Emilie Richards on September 1, 2011 at 10:52 am

      Here’s your chance to try something from each one before you decide whether to discard. Bet you’ll be eating well.

  13. Wendy Jo on September 1, 2011 at 10:15 am

    This month I am going to make “Pumpkin Cream Cheese Squares” by Doris Christopher’s Stoneware sensations” Making for church on Sunday let you know how it turns out..

  14. Mia on September 19, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    I refuse to count how many cookbooks I own. I refuse to incriminate myself. Although the number is less than it was a year ago since I cleaned out about a 100. Now there is more room on the shelves. After all I have to get new ones for the research value after all! I have pulled Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table off the shelf and will try a recipe out of there. It will probably be a chicken recipe since I am in the mood for a chicken stew. I bought this book for the pretty pictures and have not used it once since.

    • Emilie Richards on September 19, 2011 at 9:56 pm

      Be sure to tell us when you do and what you try. Looking forward to hearing how it goes. Hopefully it’s more than pretty pictures, right?

  15. Cathy Norton on September 29, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    I have more cookbooks than I can count. Most are in the kitchen and outgrew the countertop and need their own bookshelf. Some are in a bookshelf in the guest room. I bought them as gifts but never gave them away! I have a tote out in the garage that is full as well as my recipe box of family recipes. I also have recipe software that I used to create a cookbook for my daughter and daughter-in-law. I have had several subscriptions to cooking magazines that I have put into binders. I have used a few of the magazines and probably 5 of the cookbooks in recent weeks. My husband has been diagnosed with some health issues and needs to lose weight. I am sure I will hear the same warnings at my next physical. I bought some more cookbooks at a used book sale at the library. The one I used this week is Taste of Home’s Light and Tasty 2003. I made two recipes from it this week. The first one was Apple and Onion Beef Pot Roast in the crock pot. Tonight’s dinner was Dijon Mushroom Beef using the leftover pot roast. I have never tried a bad recipe from TofH. Can’t wait to try a different book next week.

  16. Donalene Poduska on October 17, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    I hadn’t counted my cookbooks in a long time — I counted 225 in assorted places (kitchen, dining room and family room bookcases). I did not count the ones in the lower cabinets or a downstairs bookcase, guessing about 150 more. I gave our younger daughter my series of 27 Time-Life Foods of the World, hard cover plus spiral, from the 1970’s. Over the years I have given to the library for its book sale about 200. Recently I went looking for a small leaflet that had drawings on how to cut various cake shapes. When I found it, I saw the 5th annual Holiday Cookies book from Land O Lakes butter, from 1998. I had some cookies marked but had never made any of them. So, I tried the salted nut bars, using peanuts instead of the mixed nuts (didn’t have any). Oh, they are so good! I do limit myself to two at a time, once a day! I usually like to try cookie recipes. I do subscribe to four food magazines plus five others that have quite a few recipes. Only lack of time prevents doing all that I’d like to do.

    • Emilie Richards on October 17, 2011 at 9:49 pm

      That sounds like a CHU entry to me, Donalene. So glad they were tasty. And what a collection you have. Wow.

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