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Saturday, 8 September 2012

Recipe Books




Are you a recipe book junkie? Well, I am. Guilty as charged. I go to the bookstore and head straight to the cookbook section. Never mind that I already own close to 90 cookbooks and still counting. I breeze past the romance, fiction, non-fiction and even my old favorites -  murder, horror and the occult. Those were the days before I was domesticated. Now I don't have time for murder and mayhem, I'm so into baking (okay, so I murder a few cakes like this one).


A series of Kak Liza's cookbooks.
And have you ever flipped through a cookbook at the store and found only one recipe that you want? It is such a waste to buy the whole book just for that one recipe. So what do you do? My Aunt would memorize the recipe. That's right, upload all the data into her brain and quickly download with pen and paper when she gets home.

Once we went shopping. My Aunt found 2 recipes and she memorized one and I the other. By the time we got home after our heavy lunch, all the uploaded data was duly erased from our "hard disk".


Our friend and fellow blogger Shahriah has published a cookbook.
Lately, my Aunt's memory isn't so good (mine isn't improving either). One lazy Sunday afternoon my phone beeped. I got an sms from her. It went something like this :


5tc, 1m, 1fl, don't cover

A cryptic message from my Aunt. What could it be? Was she in trouble? Knowing my Aunt, I need not worry as she is quiet a feisty lady. The potential kidnapper or robber would be begging her to leave them alone. The next day she called and I asked her what her mysterious message was about. She burst out laughing and told me it was a recipe she keyed in to her phone.



She was keen on a recipe when her phone beeped at the bookstore. It was from the bank, you know one of those messages that you could do without. That gave her an idea to key in the recipe on pretense of replying to the sms. So with shifty eyes, my Aunt did an abbreviated take on the recipe and messaged it to me. The things we do to save money. Then I read a post by Lena where she mentioned snapping a photo of a recipe at the bookstore. I couldn't help smiling.


With such a vast collection of cookbooks, you probably think that I have cooked many wonderful dishes for my family. Actually, no. Most of the time, I flip through the books and admire the pictures. Like this one :

Beef Salad Nicoise from Reader's Digest Vegetables for Vitality.

Or this one :


Chicken Stew with Winter Squash & White Beans from Reader's Digest Vegetables for Vitality.

And I go "Hmmm....this dish looks nice. Maybe I'll cook this". Then I flip some more. And then I go and cook what I cooked last week. 

If you have been following me, you would notice that I hardly bake. Phong Hong Bakes indeed! What a misnomer. I recently purchased this :


If you are interested, you can get this from MPH Online.

I do the same thing. I flip and ogle at the photos. And look at this, isn't it a beauty?

Upside-Down Orange and Pomegranate Cheesecake from Favorite Cupcakes and cheesecakes.

Never mind what Kashta cheese is, I just love the photo. 


Kashta Cheesecake from Favorite Cupcakes and Cheesecakes.
I love Indian food. I am always in awe of the spice mix, the exciting flavors and aroma. So I bought this :


As I thumbed through the content, I was very excited as I now possess in my hands the formula to concoct my favorite mutton curry. But alas, Indian food is complex :


All those flavors that tantalize the palate do not come easy. The list of ingredients is long and the preparation arduous. And I do what I always do, I flip the pages some more and get my curry fix from the Indian restaurant the next day. 

And I even bought this :



I have only read 1/4 of the book and did not make much progress since. It was too technical for me. If I want any wine related information, I'll just conveniently hop over to Chef and Sommelier.

Being more familiar with Nyonya and Malay cooking, I wanted to get acquainted with my roots so to speak. Perhaps, I could learn a thing or two on Chinese cuisine from these :




From Chinese Cuisine by Huang Su-Huei
The Crispy Chicken recipe had me all geared up until I learnt that you had to hang the chicken in a well ventilated area for 8 hours. Plan cancelled.

I also bought this, for God's sake :


Very informative, I learned quite a bit on various cuisines from the many Chinese provinces.
Will I continue to buy more cookbooks? I've sworn not to so many times already, so you can be sure if a good recipe book catches my eye, I'll go for it.


I used to read this stuff.



























44 comments:

  1. your collection is really impressive, I do more or less the same as you-buy a lot, usually when they are already discounted which happens like half a year after publication
    than I just like to read and see the pictures but I also often preper them

    Blog about life and travelling
    Blog about cooking

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    1. Hi Ola, at least you often prepare the recipes. And that is good!

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  2. Hi Phong Hong, Another cookbook collectors here, LOL I own more than 100++ cookbooks, collected from the day I learned how to cook for the past 28 years. As usual 30% of the book is untouched just enjoyed reading it. Others I don't think I tried more than 3 recipes from each book. But yet old habit hard to change, still buying... Recently I just brought Shahriah's book. She got another cookbook coming out in September.

    In fact I got more than that, gave some away recently to a blogger who stay near my place.
    Pssttt... bad habit...after gave away go but new cookbooks, hahaha....

    Have a nice weekend.

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    1. Hi Amelia! I am so glad to know that you are like that too. We are wasting so much storage space and not exploring all those new dishes. Very addicted, cannot stop buying. Could have saved more money there :)

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  3. Me too! I'm such a sucker for books. I'm always telling myself that any recipe is just a click away, no need for more books. My shelves are already sinking in the middle. But, noooo, I'm still killing the environment :(

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    1. Hi Ping! Glad to know that I am not the only psycho around. It gets even worse when I buy online. I see nice picture on the cover and I just click, click, click!

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  4. I am just like you; when I'm in my teen I am a fan of cookbooks and storybooks (on murder case storybooks). Before I am really into this foodblogging, I remember my brother-in-law used to tease me that buy cookbooks just to flip over and over again but never cook! Your bookshelves still have space for more cookbooks?

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    1. Mel, murder case was my favorite last time. You are right, I have no more space. Going to buy a new bookshelf soon :)

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  5. You do have a very impressive collections of cookbooks! I usually just go in and browse to kill time and sometimes did like lena, discreetly take a photo lol!

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  6. Hi Phong Hong, my whole working life is surrounded by books and books. Some of your collections I've seen before cos' we are either the publisher or distributor or both. I exercise discipline when buying cookbooks [only buy on staff/distributor price]. Nowadays, I don't cos' I realised cookbooks also have a 'lifespan'. Ingredients and methods change and you don't feel like trying them out. I have many such books in my shelf and thinking of giving away but doubtful whether they are useful to others.

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    1. Hi Kimmy, that's nice, then you can also get other books at preferential price. I have come across some very old local recipe books that tell you things like "20 sen tomato". In today's terms can't get anything for 20sen :) Maybe you can donate your books or sell to the scrap collector. Hah! hah!

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  7. I know, for most of the time, if I only like 1 or 2 recipes in a book, I will take the cookbook to a quiet corner, then check around to make sure that no staff is watching, then will quick quick take some snaps by the phone but of course I have to take the title of the book. I seldom buy cookbook anyway, becoz I prefer to browse through the internet to look for idea. My hubby has been complaining that I've been buying too much of unwanted things for my baking(the accessories that I used in photo taking). You really have a huge collection of books!

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    1. Hi Jessie, actually it is true we can get from internet. But somehow I feel very thrill to buy new cookbook. Hee..hee...Since I started blogging, I also started buying props for photo shoot.

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  8. I am a cookbook junkie, too! I wish my memory was good enough to memorize a recipe I saw in a book store...I might just have to resort to a photo with my phone ;)

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    1. Lizzy, the memory method is not foolproof. We tend to forget! Its best to snap a photo but make sure you don't get caught :)

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  9. Haha! You had me in stilts of giggles reading your post! Most of it sounds familiar to me! Especially the part about sms!! The only difference is I did not sent the sms, I saved it in the messages draft!! Save money-lah, why need to sms?? Hahahaha!! The things we do!!
    I am a cook-book addict, seriously, I browse thru Amazon and Books Depository websites practically every day, not to mention our local stores! If you would like to "force" yourself to try out Indian cuisines (my favourite, yum!), you would perhaps like to join IHCC where we will be cooking from Madhur Jaffrey recipes starting from Oct to Mar. Link is here : http://iheartcookingclubs.blogspot.com/2012/09/esta-rojo.html
    We have a theme each week, but it is flexible, you don't have to cook every week if you don't want to!
    I have that chinese book by Huang Su-Huei, bought that like 15 years or more ago! It is a good book! But have tried only a few recipes so far, the rest of the time it is collecting dust on my shelf!!
    If you are ever in PJ, stop by BookXcess at Amcorp Mall, you can find cookery books at very low prices! They even deliver to outstation.
    Have fun browsing your books! :)

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    1. Hi Joyce, thanks for info on IHCC and BookXcess. I will check it out. If there ever was such a thing as rehab for cook books addicts, you and I will be checking in. Hah! Hah!

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  10. Such a funny post, and totally familiar sounding! I used to buy loads too, but these days, browse more online. Yes, guilty of taking potos of recipes too! Tsk tsk

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    1. Esther, looks like there are a whole bunch of people having the same type of condition. Hah! Hah! We are not alone :)

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  11. I love foods since young, last time no money to buy cookbook, I just cut out the recipe from newspaper. I started to buy cookbook when I started my blog. So now my hobby is reading cookbook, and also go to cookbook section when bring kid to buy book, hehehe ..love your collection of cookbook, and I need to put Malay and Indian cookbook in my collection since I don't own one.

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    1. Sonia, I also used to cut recipes from newspaper. I still do it but the problem is I never keep it properly. So when I need the recipe, aiyo got to search until "siaw". This weekend I must tidy up and paste it nicely.

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  12. Amazon is a good source. Just ordered a couple last week.

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    1. Oh, yes. Amazon has a great variety. I have to restrain myself for the time being or else I'll end up as a cookbook hoarder.

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  13. Tell me about it!!! My missus has soooooooo many, not that she cooks a lot of what's in the book. She just enjoys browsing through and looking at the very nice photographs, I guess. :(

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    1. Arthur, it is very comforting for me to know that there are other people like me out there. My mum is the same. Dad used to complain "Your mummy has 100 cookbooks" but we always eat the same thing :)

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  14. good morning phong hong, give me five!!! me too hv soooo many, i have problems actually trying to keep them in racks and now keeping it some here and there..and still buying!! it's our treasure man! i can never memorize a recipe, even tho i tried, the moment i walked out from the store, i will quickly write it down in a paper..but still, i couldnt get all remembered! your aunty really terror la, but what to do? like you said, just cant buy one book for one recipe! eh, if i read books like this during my school exams , sure fly with flying colours! haha! Happy shopping!!

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    1. Hi Lena, you are right. Sure score straight As for exam. Hah! Hah! I will be shopping for a bookshelf soon. I also keep them here there and everywhere. When i want to look for a recipe, alamak have to go hunting all over the house. Must get organised this coming long weekend. Say only, never do :)

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  15. I love cookbooks too but unfortunately it is impossible to get any Chinese or Malay language cookbooks over here.

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    1. Oh, that's too bad but I guess you could still get Chinese or Malay recipes from the internet. I can't read Chinese so I will look out for the bilingual ones.

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  16. jeles2...banyak nya buku..... ;))

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    1. Cik Wan, saya ni beli buku, pas tu tengok gambo saje.....

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  17. This is a great post Phong Hong. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks, Angel. I'm glad you like it.

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  18. Hi Phong Hong,

    Welcome to my world of cookbook addiction :D LOL! My book shelves are running out of space and my husband is restricting me my "unhealthy" buying habits... I've been good so far. Didn't buy a book at all since Mar this year and now thinking to buy 6-7 books at one go...LOL! You know what... Joyce is always my "bad" influence :p

    Zoe

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    1. That's great, Zoe! We should start a Cookbook Addicts Annonymous. I know I won't be stopping anytime soon. I always tell myself, no more! But no sooner as I see a nice cookbook, that's it. I make a grab and go. No regrets so far :D

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  19. Hi Phong Hong, there are many "siao" persons like us like to buy and collect recipe books. I am one of them. Sometimes,too many cook books make me very "ruan" cannot make up my mind which one to cook first. Do you have the same problem also?

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    1. Veronica, you don't know how happy I am to know that I am not the only one who is "siao". Yah, I have the same problem. Sometimes two recipes appear in different books and I actually compare the two as if I am doing scientific analysis. And I am also fickle minded and can't make up my mind which one to try and I end up cooking something I have cooked before. Hah! Hah!

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  20. It's fun reading your lively blog post. I have the same problem with recipe books. The urgency to hoard is so great but once it's home, I hardly bother to try out the recipes. Now with bookdepository and no shipment charge, the hoarder in me gets overboard. I probably stop when I run out of storage space for my books.
    ps. thank you for visiting my site. My apologies for losing my post and yr comments.My itchy fingers did some 'housekeeping' and accidentally lost the entire post.

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    1. Hah! Hah! I guess you enjoy the high of having new cookbooks. It's the same with me, all excited and then the books go into hibernation. No worries, I lost an earlier post too because I was unfamiliar and accidentally pressed something :D

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  21. Replies
    1. It is, if only it were translated into actual food :)

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  22. Phong Hong, I loved reading your entertaining, and funny post about the cook books...and you didn't mention cooking magazines which I'm guilty of getting every month. I'm the same way as you, I put my reading novels aside and neglected to read them for a while now. Always looking at cookbooks, but most of my collections are 'thrift finds' and they are just like new books (some actually are)

    I keep promising myself to make a certain dish or dessert, I mark it with the sticky note and then I find others to mark. Most of the time the ones I end up making are usually something that inspires me right at that moment.
    Love the funny one about the chicken that has to hang for 8hrs to ventillate...LOL

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    1. Elisabeth, I'm gald that you loved the post. As far as cooking magazines are concerned, thank God that I only subscribe to one (Flavours). I also mark my cookbooks with those sticky notes and keep running out of them. Too many recipes marked but untested. I usually stick to the tried and tested but I will be more adventurous from now on. Watch this space!

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