Eat Your Books – minus the books

I’ve been away from home the last week at a summer rental house, confronting all the adjustments required in an unfamiliar kitchen: radiant burners instead of propane, non-stick pans instead of cast-iron, and above all, no cookbooks except the ones I brought.  I brought just 5, which I thought was pretty restrained. And four of those were for ice cream and desserts (assignments I was completing).

I’ve come to rely on the potent combination of EYB and my cookbook library.  How on earth was dinner supposed to get made?

In the end, it wasn’t that hard. Without cookbooks, I found myself using EYB in a different way…as an aid to memory and improvisation.  What is it that goes in those sticky, vinegary chicken thighs I like?  What sort of ingredients go in pasta if you’re making a ricotta sauce?  And, of course, that age-old question: what can I make if what I’ve got is bacon, celery, and basil?

EYB, it turns out, is a powerful tool even when uncoupled from your library.  If you know your way around a stove, it’s not difficult to extrapolate a working recipe from a list of ingredients.  And with its nearly half a million indexed recipes, EYB is a virtual encyclopedia of what can be done with that silent, unforthcoming army of ingredients in your fridge.

I’ll be happy to get back to my kitchen garden and my cookbooks this week.  But in the meantime: thanks, EYB, for giving me a helping hand in a foreign kitchen. 

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