It’s been many a time that I’ve found myself with ingredients in my fridge to use up but no idea what to cook. Cue hours of wading through my cookery book collection to try and find something suitable…not ideal. However, a website launched today “aims to revolutionise the way people use cookbooks”.
http://www.whatsinmycookbooks.com/ shows its users how to search for recipes, with a database that is searchable by dish name, dish type or up to five individual ingredients. Even better – these dishes are those that can be found in books that you already own. Once you register with the site, you can create your own “bookshelf” by selecting books from the list that are in your collection: the aim is for the site to feature every cookbook published in the last five years by the end of 2011. The search results that are brought back highlight the name of the book, the page number on which the recipe can be found, and a list of every single ingredient included in the dish.
The site was devised by computer programmers and foodies Linda and Chris Newton, and began with a conversation almost 20 years ago. “It seemed crazy that I couldn’t think of anything to make with, say, leeks and Brie –even though I KNEW there must be something in the 8000 recipes I already had in my cookbooks,” says Linda. “The recipe book indexes were pretty useless as they didn’t list all the ingredients, so I couldn’t find things to make without going through every recipe.”
That’s where whatsinmycookbooks.com came in. Since the middle of 2010, the pair have added over 28,000 recipes from the likes of Delia, Ramsay, Ken Hom and Gizzi Erskine, to name but a few, and are still going. If there’s a book that you own that’s not included, you can even suggest it for consideration.
I’ve only got 7 of the books that are currently listed on the site, but can already see how useful it’ll be. My fridge, for example, currently contains black pudding, which I only ever use for cooked breakfasts. Searching by ingredient shows me that I already have cookery books featuring four recipes using the ingredient, from black pudding with caramelised apples and cider to a warm salad of scallops and black pudding with a pea and mint puree.
One of my plans for the new year is to resurrect my use of a local veg box scheme. I think I’ll be paying this site a visit on a regular basis to ensure that I don’t get stuck in the same rut as before, making the same few dishes every week…