The Used Cookbook Sale at The Hollywood Farmer’s Market


On Sunday, my friend Ben Mandelker of The B-Side Blog invited me to the used cookbook sale at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market. As many of you know, I’m kind of a cookbook junkie (see here) so this was a no-brainer. When I got there, I found mostly generic cookbooks (many, many diet books) and old copies of Bon Appetit anthologies. But then Ben started to dig up some treasures, which I’ll share with you here….

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My New Cookbook Shelf


Let’s pretend that I have a boyfriend (or partner or whatever it is you prefer I call him, you touchy readers you) named Craig and let’s pretend that Craig, one day last year, bought a designer bookshelf from H.D. Buttercup in Culver City. The bookshelf, in this story, was so heavy you couldn’t lift it and so important to Craig that it remained in our bedroom, virtually empty, for a year. We’d talk about the things we might put on it (“What about a vase?” “No, I hate vases,” Craig might reply) but never actually put anything on it except the one time I put a bunch of my favorite paperbacks on the top shelf and they looked incredibly feeble and minuscule in this giant bookcase. “You know,” I may have said, if this story were real, which–to be honest–it is, “what would look really good on it?” “What?” “Cookbooks.”

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Sunday Morning Potatoes


I made a promise here on this blog and the promise went something like this: “I won’t blog more than three recipes from any particular cookbook because, after a certain point, people should just buy it.” Which is why I stopped blogging about one of my favorite new cookbook purchases (though not a new cookbook) because, pretty quickly, I posted three recipes from it. Now I have a 4th recipe which isn’t so much a recipe as it is a technique. So I’ll break my own rule but I sort of feel ok about it because (a) I won’t tell you what book it’s from; and (b) this technique is so straight-forward and simple, it may as well just be something your neighbor told you how to do rather than something from the pages of Marion Cunningham’s Breakfast Book. Oops.

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Pasta! Pasta! Pasta!


Our landlords recently told us that they’re selling our apartment and so, despite how much we like it here, we’re going to have to pack up and move on July 1st. I’m already spending way too much time on (the big rental site out here) and a site called Padmapper (which puts Craigslist listings on a map) trying to find our next place. One thing I’ll miss about our current place, besides its proximity to a grocery store (Gelson’s) and a gourmet market (The Oaks) is Counterpoint, the used book store on our street. I’ve found many cookbook gems there, like The Mandy Patinkin Family Cookbook (which I didn’t buy) and The Cooking of Southwest France (which I did).

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Why Oh Why Didn’t I Buy The Mandy Patinkin Family Cookbook?


We all have regrets in life. I regret pulling out the chair from under Stacy Epstein in the 3rd grade. Can I go back and change that I did that? No I can’t. But I can go back and change one regret from a few weeks ago. I was at the used book store on my street and found, to my surprise, a copy of Mandy Patinkin’s Jewish family cookbook. Actually, it’s not his cookbook–he just wrote the Introduction–it’s Grandma Doralee Patinkin’s cookbook. That’s either his mother or grandmother, it’s hard to tell (she looks young) but the point is I didn’t buy it. And it’s still there. And I still haven’t bought it. What’s wrong with me?

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A Tribute to Peter Workman

[Photo via]

Regina Schrambling has penned a lovely, loving tribute to Peter Workman who died this weekend at the age of 74. I was really surprised and saddened to hear of his death, especially since my most recent cookbook was very much the result of his extraordinary input. My original idea was for a book called “The Best Recipes of Your Life” where, based on my broccoli post, I would seek out the best mashed potatoes, the best milkshake, etc. When the proposal arrived at Artisan, my agent told me that Peter Workman enjoyed the proposal but wasn’t crazy about the concept. He came up with a different idea: what if I traveled around the country and cooked with great chefs and home cooks, transcribing everything that I learned into a cookbook? Secrets of the Best Chefs was born and throughout the process I would occasionally get input from Peter by way of my editor. All of it was so spot on, I still pinch myself when I think about how lucky I am that I got to do a cookbook under his tutelage. His loss is a great loss to cookbook lovers everywhere.

Gwyneth Paltrow Cookbooks: Love ‘Em or Hate ‘Em?

[Photo credit Raphael Brion]

The knives are out for Gwyneth Paltrow and her new cookbook. Eater, of course, had fun pulling out the most ridiculous lines of text (“Yes, eggplant is a nightshade, so this isn’t a recipe for times when you’re on an elimination diet”); but I was surprised today to see this scathing post on Mark Bittman’s blog. Surprised because Bittman co-starred on a TV show with Gwyneth, along with Mario Batali and Spanish actress Claudia Bassols. Bittman didn’t write the post (it’s by Jennifer Mascia) but it’s under his masthead. Mascia says, “At best [the book] makes it seem like healthy eating is strictly for the wealthy; at worst, it’s quack science for attempting to export Paltrow’s wacky elimination diet (no bell peppers, eggplant or corn? Huh?) to a populace that’s improperly nourished and financially struggling.” What do you all think? Are you fans of Paltrow’s cookbooks? Or does she make you foam at the mouth the way Hathahaters do around Anne Hathaway? And do you think Anne Hathaway will write a cookbook? If she does, will you hate it too?

Amanda Cohen’s Dirt Candy Cookbook (A Video Interview)

My friend Amanda Cohen, chef at Dirt Candy in New York’s East Village, has a pretty incredible cookbook out right now called, appropriately enough, Dirt Candy. The remarkable thing about the book is that it’s in a graphic novel format, so there are drawings and speech balloons and little boxes and exclamations and all of that good stuff you expect to see in a graphic novel. What’s great is how this format enhances the experience of reading a cookbook…the combination of text and imagery carries the points home further so the various techniques described (sweating, reducing, etc.) are made incredibly clear. Today I popped into Dirt Candy to sit down with Amanda to chat about the book, how it came about, how she wrote it in this format, and to get the dirt on some of the stories she tells (about Iron Chef, for example). Thanks Amanda for taking the time to talk to me and congrats on your awesome new book!