Are Cookbooks an Endangered Species?

Are cookbooks an endangered species? Given the ready availability of hundreds of thousands of free recipes on the internet, does it make more sense to use Google to find a recipe than it does to thumb through a dozen cookbooks? As much as I love cookbooks, even I find myself sourcing recipes on the internet a lot more than I ever thought I would.

Consider, for example, a recent search for a recipe for a butternut squash soup made with apple cider. I’d seen an interesting recipe, but I couldn’t remember where I’d seen it. For some reason, I was convinced the soup was made in a slow cooker, and I spent a half hour searching through all of my slow cooker cookbooks. Gluten-free, vegetarian, diabetic, kosher- there are slow cooker cookbooks for virtually every niche market.

I typically thumb through a new book, marking the recipes that look interesting. So when I didn’t find an appealing recipe in any of the slow cooker books, I checked out the markers in my soup books, most of them irregular scraps of paper. Someday I’ll remember to get those nifty markers well-organized people use when they’re leading a book-based discussion at a meeting or book club. Anyway, I couldn’t find a recipe. So I switched gears and headed to the internet.

The last time I did an internet search for a recipe, I was thinking about making spanakopita, the phyllo-wrapped spinach pies that are one of my favorite Greek dishes. I checked out my Greek cookbooks and found some interesting options. But when I thought about trekking to Greek town if I couldn’t get find frozen phyllo at Treasure Island or Whole Foods, I started to have misgivings.

Working with phyllo requires patience and a certain amount of manual dexterity. Each one of the paper thin sheets of phyllo has to be brushed with melted butter, a task requiring a light touch and a heavy dose of the aforementioned patience, qualities I’m sorely lacking. It was time to find a simpler format.

So I started looking at recipes for spinach quiche. There were a lot to choose from, but I couldn’t find a filling that appealed to me. In the end, I wound up with a casserole made with cottage cheese, eggs, frozen spinach, and feta cheese. No phyllo. No melted butter. This was a simple casserole that could be made ahead of time. That’s the beauty of the internet. It gives you an opportunity to fine tune your ideas, all with a click of the mouse.

Greek Spinach Bake Recipe
6 servings

2 cups (16 ounces) cottage cheese
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
8 ounces crumbled feta cheese
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon salt
4 eggs, lightly beaten

1.In a large bowl, combine the cottage cheese, spinach and feta cheese. Stir in the flour, pepper and salt. Add eggs and mix well.
2.Spoon into a greased 9-inch square baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350-degrees for 1 hour or until a thermometer reads 160-degrees.

Note: Credited to Sharon Olney of Galt, California, the recipe is from

Filed under: Commentary, Cookbooks

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