GobbledyBook

I guess it must have been a couple of years ago, I had a crazy thought to build a website to help me start actually using my cookbooks. The point of the site would be to let people create a simple catalog of the cookbooks that they own to help them search through the recipes in those books. Anyone using the site could enter the recipes from one of their cookbooks and then be able to search it from then on out. The scale of the web would mean with enough users, each person would really only need to spend time entering one or two of their own cookbooks, and before long, there would be a very good sized catalog. Or, if all of that failed, at least I’d have a site that I could enter my books and search them.

So, in fits and starts, I eventually built it. It’s called GobbledyBook, and it’s free for anyone to use. I’ve kept kind of quiet about it because, to date, just about the only person who has used it has been me and it’s always a little nerve wracking to have other people start playing with your baby.

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I’ve used it quite a bit already. In fact, I’ve entered over 4,500 recipes in more than 40 of my cookbooks. And even though that is only a small part of my cookbook library (yes, I am one of those freaks), it’s already come in handy to help me find the right recipe and actually cook from my cookbooks! Woo Hoo!

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The basic scenario is pretty simple. Say, I want to make some bread pudding. I know I have a lot of bread pudding recipes in my cookbooks, but which ones? I’m sure that Donna Hay has a recipe, but I own 6 of her books. With GobbledyBook, I can simply type bread pudding into the search box, and it shows me 26 recipes out of my cookbooks and what page the recipe is on (Donna Hay has a Marmalade Bread and Butter pudding in Modern Classic Vol. 2, page 146, by the way). You can also see a full list of ingredients for the recipe as well as comments. (To actually cook the recipe, you have to go to the cookbook… I’m not trying to steal from cookbooks, just make them easier to use).

Or, maybe I need to bring something gluten free to a pot luck? I can browse all gluten free recipes, and then narrow down the selection by what ingredients I have or the type of food I like to cook, like Italian. I can limit the search to just cookbooks I own, or any cookbook that has been indexed. Then, I just go grab the book off of the shelf (or order it from Powell’s or Amazon!) and get cooking.

It’s also been wonderful for helping me figure out what to do with the ingredients in my market basket each week. Once I get tired of my old standards, I just plug in a couple of ingredients and see what other dishes I can make. Like, for example, this Swiss Chard Frittata that I made for lunch today.


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Actually, this is a combination of two recipes… a basic baked frittata and a swiss chard tart recipe from Sunday Suppers at Luques. I didn’t quite have all the right ingredients for the tart, but I did have (most of) the makings for the pine nut relish that tops it. So, keeping with the basic seasonings of the tart, I skipped the crust, bumped up the egg and turned it into a lovely (and gluten free) lunch treat (recipe below!)

Anyway, back to Gobbleybook. As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one with the problem of using their cookbooks, or the idea to solve it. Late last year, another site launched called Eat Your Books. With a slightly bigger staff (than my 1, so anything is bigger!) and interns helping out with the data entry, their catalog is significantly bigger already. Good for them! I’m sure if I hadn’t spent the last couple of years building my own site, I would totally sign up.

There are some differences between GobbledyBook and Eat Your Books though. First and foremost, GobbledyBook will let you catalog your own books, so you don’t have to wait for someone else to add your book. You can just do it yourself (and you’ll most likely find a few great recipes to bookmark along the way… I know I have).

GobbledyBook is also free to use. There are no sign up fees or subscriptions fees, and it is my intention to keep it that way. You sign in with your Facebook account, and you are good to go.

GobbledyBook also lets you enter the data the way you want to and the way the recipe is written. If the recipe calls for spring onions, you enter spring onions. Behind the scenes, we’ll match up ingredients that are the same (so if you search for scallion, you’ll see recipes for green onions as well. Search for soup and you’ll see recipes that are bisques). I’ve had numerous searches on Eat Your Books fail because I didn’t use quite the right search term.

So, if you find yourself wanting to make your cookbook library a little easier to use, I hope you’ll give GobbledyBook a try and enter a cookbook or two. To entice you a bit more, I’m giving away a $50 gift certificate to your choice of Powell’s or Amazon to the first person to catalog 500 recipes!

PS: GobbledyBook is a labor of love. It’s been a long time since I’ve done any “real” software development, so you may, at times, find a glitch or two. If you do, I hope that you let me knows so I can keep making the site better!

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Baked Swiss Chard Frittata with Pine Nut Relish

Makes 2 individual sized frittatas

Relish

1/3 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 sprig rosemary
1 dried red chile
1/3 cup red onion, diced
1/3 cup raisins or currants
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh chervil or flat leaf parsley
red chile flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Frittata

3 large chard leaves (or other braising greens)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/8 cup red onion, diced
4 extra large eggs
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1/4 cup cream
black pepper
chives

First, make the relish. Lightly toast the pine nuts until they start smelling very nutty. I use a small skillet on the stovetop to do this, but you can also do it in the oven. When they show golden spots on them, remove from heat, and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a small skillet and add the rosemary and chile until they start to sizzle. Add the diced onion, raisins and a pinch of salt, and reduce heat to low. Slowly cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened. Remove from the skillet, discard the chile and rosemary, and set aside.

Using the same skillet, add the balsamic vinegar and heat over medium low until the vinegar reduces to about 1 tablespoon and becomes syrupy. Add this to the onion mixture, and stir to combine. Then, mix in the pine nuts, chervil, a pinch of red chile flakes (if desired). Season to taste. Set aside for the flavors to meld.

To make the frittata, lightly grease two mini cocottes and preheat the oven to 350F.

Remove the thicker stems from the chard and tear the leaves into smallish pieces. Chop the stems into half moons (like you would celery). Heat a small skillet with olive oil and the thyme leaves. When hot, add the chopped chard stems and red onion. Reduce heat to low and cook until the onion softens. Add the chard leaves and cook until they become wilted. Divide between the cocottes.

Whisk the eggs, creme fraiche, cream and a grind or two of black pepper in a medium sized bowl until well combined. Pour this mixture over the chard in the cocottes, filling each about 3/4 full. Garnish with a bit of chive if desired.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the mixture sets and puffs up. Then, switch to the broiler and cook 1 to 2 minutes or until the top is nicely browned.

Serve immediately (they will quickly deflate), topped with the pine nut relish.

  • http://fourchickens.blogspot.com Jeanne

    Terrific! Thanks!

  • http://noodlefever.blogspot.com noodlefever

    wow, that is pretty incredible. thanks for sharing!

  • http://ciaochowlinda.blogspot.com Ciaochowlinda

    Wow, you’ve done quite a lot of work with this and it’s such a great resource. I’m going to check it out right now and I’m sure I’ll be using it a lot in the future.

  • http://www.gogogreengarden.com amyp

    You are amazing. So glad this is officially LIVE.
    Congrats!!

  • http://www.thenervouscook.com The Nervous Cook

    Wow, this sounds so helpful! I have been finding myself a bit overwhelmed by my c-book collection lately, too, and seeing as I keep taking more and more out of the library each week, to boot…

    Thanks so much for sharing this; I know how strange and a little scary it can be to put such a labor of love out there.

  • Donna

    Hi,

    Love the idea – only can you make is so people without a facebook account can sign up?

  • http://simplyluxurious.blogspot.com Simply Luxurious

    This site you’ve created looks amazing! I will most certainly check out. I love the idea of using the ingredients I have and plugging them in to see what I can make. A perfect idea. Congratulations!!!!

  • http://invitadoinvierno.blogspot.com/ Miriam/The Winter Guest

    Hi Lara, it’s the first time I comment here (though I’m a keen follower) and I had to do it, because I have exactly the same problem as you! I’m also a cookbook freak that tends to search the Internet when in need of a specific recipe or ingredient… I think your site is a brilliant idea and I will certainly give it a try.

  • a.

    Your goobleybook idea is just too good to be true!

  • http://devousamoi-dominique.blogspot.com/ Dominique (De vous à moi…)

    Terrific and very helpful idea!!! I have more than 100 cookbooks, in french, in english… very difficult to find a recipe. I have also a lot of magazines (I buy 5 each month!). Youridea will help me a lot, thank you.

  • http://earthkindherbal.com Anna Tulou

    Brilliant! Thank you so much – I can’t wait to start cataloguing my cookbooks!

  • http://www.haveforkwilleat.com Lauren

    This is pretty great. I’ve had the same problem too—love books, love my cookbooks, have dozens….and don’t use them. I may have to try this out!

  • Foodelf

    I second the request for access without a Facebook account, please. Unfortunately, that would be the deal breaker for me. I’ve been checking out EatYourBooks for about a week and love the concept – I’m dying to try GobbledyBook. This is definitely an idea whose time has come – Cookbooks are expensive and we should get more out of them than we do. I’ve already enjoyed revisiting and making new discoveries in my collection.

    Thanks,

    Foodelf

  • http://www.lacerise.blogspot.com Astrid

    This is a brilliant idea!

    I had a quick look and it looks very easy to use. Just wondering though: is there a way to get the application to provide search results only for books I actually own (I guess I’m look for a place where I can tick the books that I own among those that have already been indexed). Otherwise I’ll feel a little frustrated seeing a long list of hits in books I don’t have…

    You probably already offer this feature, but if so, at least from a usability perspective you know the function is not immediately obvious for this user. I only spent 5 minutes on your site though.

    I look forward to spending more time on it!

  • http://www.lacerise.blogspot.com Astrid

    Sorry to carry on so long. I guess it’s the “add your cookbooks” feature? It’s a bit buggy at the moment, so I can’t test it. But I thought this meant, “Enter the indexed recipes from your cookbooks” rather than “Mark the cookbooks you own.” Maybe the term “add” could be replaced with something more specific? OK, I’ll shut up now. Thanks again!

    • http://www.cookandeat.com/ L

      Hi Astrid,

      Yes, but you have to log in to be able to set which cookbooks you own. Once you do, there will be a checkbox at the top to say that you own the books. And, on the search results, it will let you switch between searching your own books and searching through all indexed books.

      In case you haven’t wanted to log in with Facebook, I will be working on another login solution. But it will probably take me a week or two to get it running.

      If you have other bugs that you’ve found, I’d love to know about them so I can get them fixed!

  • http://syrupandhoney.typepad.com sarah @ syrupandhoney

    This is genius! As soon as my laptop is up and running I’ll be on the site.

  • http://www.doableanddelicious.com Dawn

    Wow! What a terrific idea. Like most avid cooks, I too have a large collection of cookbooks, magazines, and torn scraps from the newspaper, grocery shelves, etc. I began to catalog my recipes just for myself at home on the computer in a similar fashion to yours. What a job it is! This is so much better as we can utilize community efforts. I will try to get some of my books on soon. Thanks.

  • http://kitchenilliterate.wordpress.com laura k

    This is a great idea, and something I’ve been thinking about for a long time! Now I don’t have to build it. I’ll sign up today. :-)

  • Paul

    This is genuinely genius!

  • narelle

    brilliant idea. genius indeed! I don’t ‘do’ facebook though, so I’ll wait patiently for other options to be added.

  • http://theitaliandishblog.com The Italian Dish

    I can’t believe you did that. How clever!

  • http://berry-lovely.blogspot.com/ Sabine

    Hi Lara,
    this is a brilliant idea. Thank you so much! I was starting to index my cookbooks in word, which is of course a pain and not very practical.

  • http://maclarty.blogspot.com/ Robyn

    Oh my. How gorgeous!

  • http://www.kumquatsblog.wordpress.com Brittni

    What a fantastic idea Lara! Can’t wait to check out the site and add some recipes!

  • http://www.mytartelette.com Helen

    Lara,
    You are simply amazing….All this work on top of your own work.

    Bravo!

  • a

    Definitely post on your blog when non-Facebookers are welcome. Thanks!

  • http://www.thecreativepot.net Marisa

    I love the GobbledyBook idea – I have the same problem with almost never cooking things from my cookbooks because it’s just easier to browse recipes online. Will definitely be using the site!

  • http://thesugarqueenbakes.blogspot.com/ Kathy @ The Sugar Queen

    I just stumbled upon this from another site. I am definitely intrigued! I plan to take a very close look at this.

    What a lot of work you’ve put into this -Thanks for sharing it!

  • http://not-a-foodblog.blogspot.com Vincci

    Wow! What a great concept! Now I just have to get myself away from reading my Google Reader to enter my recipes ;)

  • http://plantedathome.com Lorene Edwards Forkner

    I’m. So. There.

  • http://fotografiafoodie.blogspot.com/ Samantha

    What lens do you tend to use when photographing food Lara?

    • http://www.cookandeat.com/ L

      Hi Samantha – It varies depending on the shot, but I probably use my 90mm 2.8 tilt-shift and my 100mm 2.8 macro the most. If you are curious about more of my gear, check out my Still Life With website that has a complete list. http;//www.stilllifewith.com/

  • http://www.mydiversekitchen.com Aparna

    This is a wonderful idea, Lara.
    I have a lot of cookbooks myself but use so few of them! I use the net, like you.
    Am going to check out the site.

  • http://www.foodandthoughts.blogspot.com Zarah Maria

    That is SO awesome! Thank you so much for this!

  • http://dressingfordinner.blogspot.com Gemma

    This is a great idea. As a fellow cookbook enthusiast (addict) I have been trying to work up the courage to index the recipes for a while now but this is much better! Going to go and sign up now…

  • http://www.notjusttakeout.com mrs ptb

    This is PERFECT! My website came to be because I wanted to start keeping track of the recipes from my cookbooks as well, but this takes it a step further and is AWESOME! I can’t wait to have some free time and start entering away!

  • http://www.dobox.com/ Bruce

    Wow! What a great concept! Now I just have to get myself away from reading my Google Reader to enter my recipes ;)

  • http://blondiescakes.blogspot.com/ Anna

    This is fantastic! I’m going to make myself some tea when I get home and start entering stuff in. Thank you!

  • http://www.armorica.co.uk Cookware Hampshire

    I had a read through the post, fantastic idea by the way. I tried to access it however and kept getting a 505 error which was a shame, I was quite looking forward to using it and perhaps contributing some of my own stuff. I hope it’s up again soon. Keep me posted!

    John.

  • Saturnine

    This recipe didn’t even come close to setting up after 15 minutes at 350. Took way longer and at a higher temp to set up.

    • http://laraferroni.com L

      Hi Christopher – Sorry you had a problem with the recipe. Were you using individual sized cast iron coquettes? If you were using a larger size baking dish or one out of a different material, the baking time could vary.

      -L

  • http://www.cookingrecipesyard.com/ indian recipes

    I like this..nice simple yet very elegant thanks you for sharing. It is a fantastic dish..