Cookbook 411

So, here’s how it happened.

Just a little over 6 months ago, I left my job. I had been in the tech industry for over 15 years, the last 9 at Microsoft. I loved my job, and I was good at it. But, it was time for a change of pace. Time to try to figure out what I wanted to do next in my life, and make it something that I’d be happy with for the next 15 years.

About 4 months ago, I started blogging about food. Finding and creating recipes, cooking, photographing and writing. Top to bottom, soup to nuts. This was surprising because over the last 9 years, I ate out almost every night. But, I wanted to help out with [DC] and food seemed like an interesting place for me to contribute, so I decided that despite being embarrassingly unqualified I’d give it a go. I’ve certainly never let being inexperienced in something stop me before.

Rediscovering cooking and discovering how much I loved the whole experience of food… not just the eating, but also the making and the creating and the designing and the describing… was a revelation. It began taking up most of my time, as well as a good part of my house. Ideas of what to make next were piling up around me, much like the ever increasing number of cute bowls and plates that acted as backdrops for my creations. My makeshift studio, if you could even call it that, consisted of a couple of 14 x 11 white pieces of paper, a desk lamp and the light above the stove. I was lucky enough to have a well lit nook in our kitchen, but unlucky enough to live in Seattle where million dollar light is rarely seen. But, I had a camera I loved, a plethora of lenses and a knack for Photoshop. And I was having a ball.

Soon, it wasn’t just the dishes and ideas stacking up, but also the photos that I liked. I quickly went from one or two food photos to a couple hundred and counting. I started playing around with Flickr, and talking with some of the other would-be food photographers. Many with absolutely amazing work.

And of course, also piling up in the corner and on the tables were the cookbooks. Hours were spent wandering the aisle at Barnes and Noble as well as reading countless recipes online at some of my favorite fellow-foodie blogs.

But despite all this energy, I was really scattered. Some of my food writing was on [DC], some on my personal blog and some elsewhere that I can’t talk about yet. I’d highlight a few of my food photos on my photo of the day site, but most of them went directly Flickr. I was getting some exposure, but it was getting really confusing telling everyone where to look to find me. I was building the right ingredients, but it just wasn’t yet forming into a dough.

And then, a cooking disaster led to yet another seed being planted: a reader-driven site for help with confusing recipe instructions or other tips in cookbooks. A cookbook information line. I can’t be the only one that struggles with “knead until you get a smooth paste” instructions. And while I could spend the hours searching through hundreds of different recipe sites, and personal accounts, what I really want is one place that I know I can go to and find the answer.

And with that idea, Cookbook 411 was created. Here you will find my own experiences with cooking, my food photography gallery and my recommended food-related lists (books, tools, stuff for the pantry, etc.). But, you will (hopefully) also find the experiences of hundreds or thousands of other people out there who have had their own successes and failures with recipes they’ve discovered in cookbooks or on blogs. And, you will find a place where you can contribute your know-how as well.

Welcome! I’m glad you are here!

  • http://www.beaskitchen.com/blog Bea at La Tartine Gourmande

    I enjoyed a lot reading your little story. Feels very close to some of my struggles! 😉 I am looking forward to reading your stories and be a faithful reader! Your eye for photography has already hooked me! Bonne chance!

  • http://www.cookandeat.com/ L

    Thanks Bea! I’m quite excited about it, and perhaps a little overly anxious… Not everything is working yet on the site. Hopefully it won’t crash all around you when you visit! It should be working well by next week though. :-)

  • http://www.drinkjack.com DrinkJack

    I will be around here and there. I always have loved your photos and if you throw in cooking tips, you have me smiling. All I ask for is a good search engine, so when you have tons of materials, it is easy to wade through it and find that one tip I need desperately while cooking some unknown substance on the stove.

  • http://www.drinkjack.com DrinkJack

    Oh, one more thing. Can you make your banner a hot link back to the home page?

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/matthewa/ Matt Armendariz

    Hey! Ok, I’ve loved your photography on Flickr and now I’m so glad I found your blog! YAY! I’m happy :)

  • http://chezpim.typepad.com Pim

    What a lovely blog! Glad to welcome another techie refugee.

    Best of luck!

    cheers,
    Pim -who didn’t technorati her own blog and followed your link here…really…

  • http://www.cookandeat.com/ L

    Pim – Of course you wouldn’t. I wouldn’t either 😉

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  • http://kitchen-notebook.blogspot.com/ Lucy of Lucy’s Kitchen Notebook

    I really like the way your blog is organized. It is a pleasure to look at all your great photos and all of the food ideas! Thank you.

  • http://www.cookandeat.com/ L

    Thanks Lucy!

  • http://pinchmysalt.wordpress.com Nicole

    Hi, I just stumbled on to this post and it’s a great find for me! I’m feeling rather scattered myself right now and it’s so nice to know that I’m not the only one who has been here! I’ve been blogging and photographing food for about 6 months now and even though I feel like such a novice, I am so consumed by it that I can’t imagine doing anything else! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences both here and on still life with, it really means a lot!