• I love thrift stores, each one filled with the histories of so many disparate people and places. I particularly love finding cookbooks in thrift stores. Some of my most prized cooking compendiums come from the shelves of our local second-hand stores.

    For me, a good cookbook is every bit as enjoyable as a good novel. My husband Peter thinks I’m crazy as a hoot owl – I mean that in the best way. He always gets a good chuckle when he sees me “reading” a cookbook.

    When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease, I thought I had to buy all new cookbooks. Pshaw & fiddlesticks! Just adapt, adjust. That’s all. You learn how to make changes, using different gluten-free grains and flours. You learn how to make the recipes safe. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t own gluten-free cookbooks – I fully support authors who want to help us learn to cook healthfully. But I also want you to know that you are only limited by your imagination and your willingness to experiment.

    Every week (I’m going to aim for Sunday or Monday), I’m going to blog about a cookbook from my collection. Today, I will start with two new editions to my library. I am not a full-fledged vegetarian, nor do you have to be to enjoy and reap the benefits of these two cookbooks. It’s about expanding your culinary horizons to include a lot of different cuisines and ingredients.

    The first book is titled “The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen” by Donna Klein, published by the Penguin Group. It is a varied collection of more than 225 recipes that include appetizers, soups, salads, breads, pizza, sandwiches, entrees, side dishes, brunch and egg dishes and desserts from a number of ethnic cuisines, making it like a veritable romp around the food world. Last night, I made the Basmati Rice Burgers with Pistachio Mayonnaise – a real homerun, the mayonnaise adding a cold, refreshing, surprising finishing touch to the crispness of the burgers. Particularly great are the informative notes and nutrient data for each recipe, suggested menus, and plenty of useful cooking tips. There is a metric conversion chart at the back of the book. I have sticky notes on so many of the recipes – I’m not sure what to make next, but whatever I decide on, I’m sure it will be good.

    The second book is titled “A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen” by Jack Bishop, the executive editor of the magazine Cook’s Illustrated. As you can see, I left the price tag on the book. While it takes away from the beauty of the cover, I wanted you to see what a great bargain it was. This book retails for $35, but I paid a mere $5.99. I love the book SO much that I would recommend paying full price for it. I can’t imagine why anyone would’ve gotten rid of this book – it is a treasure and my cookbook collection is the better for having added this to it. Beautifully laid out, it is a seasonal approach to family meals. Do you want to know what to make for dinner tonight? This book will give you the answer. The recipes are easy to make and rely on readily available ingredients. All in all, the book satisfies the author’s philosophy of “shop locally, cook globally, and keep things easy.” Each recipe includes a sidebar that shares fabulous tips gleaned from his ten years’ experience at Cook’s Illustrated.

    Tip of the day: Find a local thrift store and watch your cookbook collection begin to grow!
    • Faye

      Dear Ellen,

      The recipe for the burgers sounds delicious. Can you share it? We must remember, “one person’s trash is another person’s teasure!” Happy Thrift Store Hunting!!

    • Lynn Barry

      Good for you, Ellen. Take the lemons and make lemonade, take the cookbooks and make them right for your needs. YEAH! HUGS

    • Slacker Mom

      I love thrift shopping..haven’t done in much in the past 5 years…first having babies..then my lovely symptoms showed up, and there wasn’t any energy to go.

      This gets me excited to start up again….

      The great thing about this diet, is feeling so damn good.

    • Mike Eberhart

      I am looking forward to all your reviews. I too love finding those bargains, and new cookbooks, as does my wife. We seem to acquire cookbooks all the time. Our collection has outgrown our bookshelf already. And, though a bulk of our books are not “GF” per se, as you said, many can simply be adapted to GF.

      On the bargain side of things… one reason (I am convinced) many books end up on sale for such a large percentage off “list price”, is that from the start, publishers set list prices so high because they know that Amazon will take a 60% cut off the top, plus they know that when they print 10-thousand or more copies at once, they can still make money at the the 80%-off level like this one you found. Seems crazy, but it also seems like that is how this industry operates. Certainly it makes for some wonderful bargains when the vendors decide to unload their inventory at what looks like rock-bottom pricing :) We’ve acquired many a cookbook on sale like that.

    • Ellen

      Dear Mike,

      I know you didn’t ask, but I’d like you to know that I plan on including your wonderful cookbook in the reviews, look for it soon. In terms of the prices that I pay for books, I think it depends on where I buy the books and whether they’re used. I would say I buy some new cookbooks through Amazon and some on sale at brick & mortar stores. The cookbooks I buy at thrift stores are always used, thus the incredibly low prices. In any case, I am in the same boat as you – my collection is beginning to spill out of my shelves. There are some things I have willpower to avoid doing – buying cookbooks ain’t one of them!

    • Rachel Jagareski, Old Saratoga Books

      As a used bookstore owner (Old Saratoga Books in Schuylerville, NY), I must chime in to say that you can find lots of great, inexpensive cookbooks at your local used bookshop. You can find out where they are in the telephone book yellow pages under book dealers, used and rare. A lot of libraries these days also have used books for sale, whether at a periodic book sale or in a little room or shelves available year-round.

      Your recipes sound great. I have printed a few for experimenting later in the kitchen.



    • Natalie

      I can’t have too many cookbooks! Most of my cookbooks are not gluten-free. I am excited to read your reviews, so that I can have an excuse to add to my collection!

    • anonymous

      This sounds PERFECT! I watched the documentary "Food Inc" at Christmas and it changed my life! I've been shopping locally and going organic. This is the perfect way for me to plan my menus around seasonal crops. I'm a clueless citygirl! Thanks for the post, I'm going to buy the book now!
      from los angeles,

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