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The Readymade Cookbook



A really bad photo of a pretty cool custom cookbook.

When I was growing up, dinnertime in my family usually began with my mother sitting on the floor, sifting through piles of recipes, all clipped from magazines or handwritten, and tossed into the recipe drawer. Today, the drawer is no longer and mom is more often on Epicurious, looking up four-fork recipes. Ask her to give you the recipe for something delicious that she made once and it will inevitably entail a frantic internet search.

Personally, I’m a fan of cookbooks. My collection is big and my favorite ones are very stained. But TasteBook, which launched in October 2007, found a happy medium—something I think both my mother and I can get together on. The Berkeley-based company has developed a simple way to create your own custom, full-color, hard-cover cookbook. For $35, you can include 100 recipes, from your grandma's raisin bread to a rum punch from Epicurious’s 25,000-heavy stock taken from Gourmet and Bon Appétit. And here’s the real key: It’s all printed in a three-ring binder, which means you can add and subtract. Out with the sun-dried tomato, roasted garlic, goat-cheese roll. In with the Brussels sprouts with capers. (Because it's spiral-bound, the book also lays flat. A small thing, but actually super practical.)

I was recently at a friend’s house and she proudly showed me hers. She had everything in it from Jamie Oliver’s cheesy peas to a chicken-and-artichoke stew. It was nice to peruse and really gave me a quick snapshot of her as well (we are what we eat, anyhow). She gave copies of it to a bunch of friends for Christmas—a great idea. I would call it vanity publishing of a good sort.