Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Where's Dinner

Remember that goofy series Where’s Waldo from the late ‘80’s? These kids’ books were filled with incredibly detailed pictures. The goal was to locate the image of the bespectacled character amidst all the visual complexity. Sometimes trying to find a recipe from one of the many cookbooks I own is like that for me. I know it’s there, but I’m not sure where. Though I rarely follow recipes precisely, I like to check on the details of those I don’t remember well or review the ingredient list before I go shopping. My choices were to flip through volume after volume, go hunting for a similar recipe online which was quicker and easier, or just wing it and hope for the best.

Now there’s another option. I just signed up for a free 30 day trail at Eat Your Books, a new online subscription recipe database. The creators have indexed over 200,000 recipes from 900 of the most popular cookbooks of the last 15 years. All the big names-chefs and titles- are represented. I entered five books from my collection and 4000 recipes were instantly organized, categorized, and managable. I can look for recipes based on ingredients, occasion, food type, and ethnicity, as well as title or author. I can access and use the material I already own in the same way that I hunt for recipes of the web. Clickable options generate shopping lists, create menus, tag favorite recipes and sort them according to personal criteria. I can even submit a request to have a cookbook on my shelf indexed if it has not already been done.

The site, which charges a fee, does not actually reproduce the recipes. (No need- you've already got them). It tells you where to find them. That’s the Waldo part. And once you have a personalized cookbook library with the convenience of a computerized catalog equipped with a variety tools and functions, the only question left is- Where’s dinner?

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