Are Cookbooks Obsolete?

In response to my post about our wine tasting party, my dear friend Catherine suggested I have the material for a book in the making. She is crazy. Very sweet but still crazy.

It got me to thinking, though. In the age of the internet, are cookbooks and books about entertaining and party planning obsolete?

When we were first married (way before the days of recipe apps on the iPad), I swore by two cookbooks:

The Joy of Cooking

and The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

Does anybody remember those gems?

Over the years I collected more cookbooks and a few books on party planning. Nothing terribly inspiring.

Then Martha Stewart came along and changed the entire landscape. Do you remember the array of books published under the umbrella of Martha Stewart Living that showed us how to “effortlessly” create the perfect party?

Yeah, right.

Between the many thousands of food blogs and Pinterest, it seems that every conceivable recipe and every single idea for the perfect party is just a mouse click away. We gave my mom an iPad for Mother’s Day. One of the first apps she downloaded was The Food Network app which allows her to search for and save recipes.

Who needs a cluttered bookshelf?

However, just like the avid readers who will not give up their books in favor of a Kindle, I still love and use a couple of my favorite cookbooks.

“Great Food Fast” from our friend, Martha, contains great, reasonable and surprisingly doable recipes.

“The Flavor Bible” is an excellent resource for cooks who want to go off-road and get a little adventurous. It lists thousands of ingredients and describes their taste, weight, season and tips about use. It also helps you figure out which flavors make sense together.

Do you still use cookbooks? What are your favorites? Where do you get your ideas for entertaining? Is Martha still the Queen?

This post is part of The September Sapphire Even Day Blog Challenge and – big surprise here – is being published on time!

Being A Wordsmith

Also, I am an Amazon Affiliate which means that if you click on one of the book images above, I might earn a couple of pennies at no cost to you.

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Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Great post! I love my cookbooks. I have a few digital cook books but there is something about having the actual book to pick recipes to try and to flip though is the best.

  2. The Joy of Cooking! Yes! I immediately recognized that cover because my mom had that cookbook in her kitchen. She even tried to teach me a few recipes in it before it became crystal clear that cooking was never going to be my thing.

  3. Mo, you took me back to my childhood in the ’70s showing those cookbooks! I can still see the wood paneling in the kitchen. Ha! My mother, who is one of the best cooks I know, still uses cookbooks even though she watches Food Network all day long. I have some too, because I’m from Louisiana and they practically grown on trees here. I have some old ones from my mother and some that were passed down from my husband’s grandmother. My mother also gave me an oversized coffee table book of John Folse recipes and she has a similar one for John Besh. We swap from time to time. C’est si bon!

    • I do love the coffee table books with the gorgeous pictures! I bet you are an amazing cook, trained by your mom and living in a place with such a rich food culture! Yummmmm!

  4. I can’t remember the last time I pulled out a cookbook to refer to. Much of it comes from the fact that I make up a lot of my own recipes, but if I need an inspiration I’ll do a google search for the key ingredients and use those recipes as an inspiration.

    • I do love the ability to look in my mostly empty refrigerator, figure out what I have to work with and have the internet decide what we are having for dinner!

  5. Even with all the technology and online recipe reading I do, I still enjoy a few of my favorite “actual” cookbooks! 🙂 But there is nothing better than quickly searching on Pinterest or Google for a recipe!-Ashley

    • I’m definitely guilty of pinning a lot of recipes that I never end up making. The pictures and descriptions are just so inviting! And I might still make them, someday….

  6. Thank you for your kind words about THE FLAVOR BIBLE (Little, Brown; 2008), which turns five years old this month — so many thanks for helping us celebrate its anniversary!

    Delicious wishes,
    Karen (fellow Midwest gal, although living in NYC) and Andrew

    • Wow! It’s so wonderful to hear from you! My fabulous son-in-law (a foodie and excellent cook) gave me The Flavor Bible 3 years ago. I absolutely love it! It is perfect for those of us who don’t follow recipes and want to be confidently adventurous!
      Happy 5th Anniversary!

  7. The Joy of Cooking was my first cookbook that I still use to this day! My mom has it, my grandmother had it – I think all the women in my family have a copy. That book has EVERYTHING in it! Even with all of the online resources, it is still my go-to guide for certain dishes.

    • I will often refer to it for something as simple as “at what temperature do I cook a London broil?” I can play around with ingredients (after referring to The Flavor Bible!) and The Joy of Cooking provides the technical info.

  8. I rarely use cookbooks anymore…only Google and Pinterest. However, the Silver Palate and Nourishing Traditions would be my go-to ones when I do use them!

    • It seems like between Pinterest and Google, people are trying new things all the time and don’t necessarily have a card box of recipes they return to week after week.

  9. I do still love cookbooks. I love the pictures and flipping through them. I actually just ordered a new one yesterday!

  10. I may use the internet to look up a recipe, and sometimes I even Pin them, but my good old red and white checked BH&G will always have a place on my shelf!

    • There is something so comforting and nostalgic about that red and white checked design, right? Plus, as helpful and vast as the internet is, I find there are times that it is much quicker to grab the book to look something up quickly.

  11. I must admit I still use my cookbooks and cooking magazines. (I am still not happy that Gourmet is no longer published and the online version is a far cry from the original.) Since I am far from neat, if I do find a recipe online, I print it out. So much safer to spill on paper than the iPad.

  12. Hi Mo! We have tons of cookbooks because the Mister used to be a chef. I love looking at all the beautiful pics. I the only one in my family that doesn’t own a kindle. I love REAL books. Have a great day!

  13. I have the first two and also swore by Julia Child’s “How To Cook” tome.

    • I’ve never owned a Julia Child cookbook but have seen clips of her show. She definitely was an amazing woman and quite the trailblazer!

  14. Mo, what a great genre of books to choose for the challenge. I have to say that I am one that has been spoiled by electronics. I seriously get an attitude if I have to purchase a book for my bookclub. Then on the other hand, if it’s a non-ficition/helpful book, I like the actual hard copy because I usually like to take notes throughout and in the back. I know that’s an option on the electronic devices but I’m old school in that nature. As far as cook books go, I was just reintroduced to the thought this week when someone gave me the Junior League’s Kids in the Kitchen cookbook for a party we are planning with the little girls. I must admit, it made me want to pull out the few that I have. My Recipe board on Pinterest has kinda taken over in that regard since I started blogging. I haven’t even heard of the flavor Bible but I will be pinning this post for sure so I remember to check it out.

    • Joi, I’m right there with you about books. I love my kindle but there are certain books, usually non-fiction, that I like to have to be able to leaf through or look things up. That is the one thing that I find to be cumbersome on the e-devices. I will check out your Pinterest board!
      Mo recently posted…Are Cookbooks Obsolete?My Profile

  15. I used to use the Joy of Cooking and the Better Homes and Gardens books a LOT, but over the last several years I’ve found it so much easier to google the recipes I want to make or just go to Pinterest! So, no I don’t use cookbooks too much anymore, although I still have a bunch! I have a few on my Kindle that I keep meaning to browse. Thanks for your nice comment at my blog! Very nice to “meet” you via SITS.

    • And thanks right back to you! I’m glad you stopped by! I’ve never thought about loading cookbooks on my Kindle. Is it hard to leaf through to find recipes? I guess you just make good use of the search feature. I’ll have to try it!
      Mo recently posted…Are Cookbooks Obsolete?My Profile

  16. I love this question. I tend to use the internet for most of my cooking when I’m looking for something “new”, but I do have a couple go-to-cookbooks that I love. One of them is Cook Once a Week, Eat Well Every Day. I don’t use all the recipes, but what I love about it is that it shows how to use leftovers in creative ways so you can eat healthy meals without getting bored. It’s hard for a single Internet post to do all that!

    • I’m going to have to look for that cookbook! What a great concept. I love the idea of doing the bulk of the work on one day then being ahead of the game for the rest of the week. Thanks for sharing!

  17. I love love love written recipes and cookbooks, I think they are the life’s blood in the kitchen. Even when I find a recipe online, I print out, customize it with my own thoughts in pen and ink and then keep it in my own recipe collection (with notes of how the recipe came out and suggestions for next time.

    Stopping by from SITS. Thanks for such a cool post.

    Heather @ Exalted Peacock

    • Thanks, Heather! I think the answer to my question is NO, cookbooks are not obsolete! Even with endless resources on the internet, I’m with you – I print out recipes and keep a collection of favorites. I love your idea of making notes for next time. I always think I will remember how I tweaked a recipe, but of course I don’t!

  18. It seems that way! I’ve really just began my adventures with cooking and preparing meals and I can honestly say that I don’t own ANY cookbooks! I used to just search google for what I had in mind and go from there. Now with the Pinterest, I don’t even search Google anymore! Pinterest has made it so easy for me to find recipes and try them!

  19. I love cookbooks!! My standbys are the Betty Crocker cookbook and an old avocado green box of Betty Crocker cooking cards my mom got back in the 1970s. I also love the Gooseberry Patch cookbooks. But I also have a few cookbooks on my Kindle which I can turn to and not worry about the pages sticking together!!

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