I’m a bit of a baker. Not to the level where I could compete on Great British Bake Off, but not a total beginner, “What’s the difference between strong flour and plain flour?” level person, either.
One of the things I love is trying out new recipes. It’s one of the things that gets me excited about baking. Sometimes I’m in the mood to throw together an old favourite–I’ve been eating rather a lot of scones, lately, because a friend gave me some gooseberry lemon balm jelly that really needs a good scone under it–but more often than not, it’s a new recipe that gets me itching to try things. A lot of the recipes I try come from blogs, because that’s been where the home-bakers tend to really shine, and recipe books are pretty pricey to buy on spec.
I have a real addiction to chocolate. My eyes automatically track to the chocolate-based recipes, by-passing all the other possibilities. This year, I gave up chocolate for Lent. With that level of addiction going, it seemed like a good idea as a sacrifice, and it’s had the virtue of pushing me try other things, too. Except it’s opened my eyes to how rarely I make anything that isn’t chocolate (or scones). Even the cookie dough I have in the freezer for a quick “OMG I need cookies now” bake (trust me, freezing cookie dough in little ready-to-bake balls is the best idea ever–you can cook them straight from the freezer and have fresh cookies half an hour after getting home from work, not that I’ve done this or anything…um) is all either chocolate or contains chocolate chunks.
And last weekend, I needed cookies. So I hunted through my favourite resources and realised just how few non-chocolate recipes I have bookmarked. I ended up making some lemon thumbprint cookies that were incredible. My coworkers agreed, and my coworker who can’t eat chocolate due a caffeine allergy (I feel so badly for him) has remarked several times over the week how good they were and how much he appreciated being able to eat the stuff I’d made.
This is where the library came in. I decided that I needed to try out some new recipe books. Cookie books specifically. Also some cupcakes books, because that’s one area of baking that I’ve neglected–they got so trendy a couple of years ago and I am the worst at rejecting being trendy at all times. That neglect, I concede, was a sad oversight. I need some books that will give me good ideas for non-chocolate bakes, so that my coworker can eat more of the things I bring in and I can continue discovering the variety of Other Flavours you can have in baked good.
(I’m not giving up chocolate forever. Don’t worry. All the books I’ve looked at do have a good number of chocolatey recipes, too.)
So, new books. But it’s impossible to assess whether recipe books are going to be any good just from browsing them, and that’s if you can find the one you want in a local bookshop to browse in. I need time to read them and try out a few recipes before committing. Recipe books are expensive, you know, and spending $30 for something I’ll only make one thing out of is ridiculous.
My library system has a rocking hold system. I browsed Amazon and the blogs for some book ideas, looked them up on the library system, and put them on hold. I’ll probably get them in a day or two. I’ll have lots of time to read, assess, and try out some new recipes. If one of them is particularly good, I’ll buy it, knowing that it’s something I’ll use regularly. If none of them have anything I like, I’ll return them and try some other books. There’s no way to lose.
Libraries: not just for fiction. Sometimes they bring you cookies, too.