Use the Web to Cook Your Books

Originally published at: Use the Web to Cook Your Books - TidBITS

Are your shelves groaning with cookbooks that you pull down only for a recipe or two? All sorts of culinary riches are tucked between beautifully printed pages in Jeff Carlson’s kitchen, but when he was looking for a recipe, he used to revert to a random Google search. No more, thanks to the Eat Your Books website that helps you find recipes in your cookbook collection.

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Great idea! But when I went to try it, first I got a “website not secure” warning that I had to override, and then “not found”…

Jeff figured out that the URL works if you put www in front of the URL. It worked fine during editing, so something must have broke on their end in the interim and we didn’t think to test. It should be fixed now. Let me know if it continues to be a problem.


This looks great! During Covid I’ve gotten tired of trying to come up with ideas for dinner. I grabbed five random cookbooks from the shelf and entered them. Just by playing around on the site I already came up with two dinners. Looks like I’ll be subscribing.

That’s exactly how I started with EYB. I’ve long felt guilty that I have some great cookbooks, but knew there were a lot of recipes I was missing.

FYI here’s my profile, if anyone is curious about my very modest library of cookbooks. It’s not all of them; some I need to dig out from the backs of cabinets. Some I’ve bought, some have been gifts. I’m proud that my copy of Les Halles is signed by Anthony Bourdain (during a special five-course dinner in Seattle prepared from the book by a restaurant chef with Bourdain mingling with the attendees). A couple I’ve never even cooked out of! Sea and Smoke, written by my friend Joe Ray, is just a gorgeous book and story, but it also has some recipes that start with, “First, dry-age a quarter cow over the winter…” :slight_smile:


This comment:

… though they still occasionally suffer from comments from people who made numerous radical substitutions but are peeved that the recipe didn’t come out right.

had me laughing and choking on my coffee. :laughing:

Looks like a terrific resource. Most of my 50+ cookbooks :scream: are still in boxes from a cross-country move, and I’m totally lost for recipes. Thanks!

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From the headline I immediately thought that this was going to be about web-based personal finance solutions… until I read further. :grinning:

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Thanks for the great review Jeff - you really summed up well what the site provides. A couple of responses:
You can add a date range of magazine issues, explained in our Help section.
I’m not sure why deemery saw a “website not secure” warning. Our SSL certificate is active and no-one else has reported this issue. If you still see that deemery, please contact us at


@Technogeezer😄 We had a few variations and decided to use this shorter one.

Great insight into a useful resource.

Thanks for the pointer about adding a range of magazine issues, @JaneEYB. I’ve updated the article with that information.

Ok, I got all my books and seven years of my EatingWell magazines entered. Member Profile for ssteve | Eat Your Books. Sixty-seven of my ninety books are indexed. That’s pretty good considering that some of them are old and obscure. And a handful are cocktail books that are just endless compilations of recipes.

While I really like the idea of EYB, what I’d really love to have is the ability to search over their entire compendium for certain types of recipes and then buy those books.

In particular, I like making (and eating) bread and if I find myself in a bookstore (a far too rare occurrence in the last 5 or 6 years), I start looking at cookbooks for that. It would be far easier, not to mention quicker, to have the power to search over books that might never make it to a bookstore that I might browse. For that feature alone I’d sign up.


The website sounds like a cool idea. My wife is the cooker and baker, and I am the eater in our household. I’ll bet I have tried for 20 years to develop a database or get her to use an online service or an app for her recipes. What I finally did is create an old fashion paper binder. One off recipes that she has collected from here and there have been scanned in so I have an electronic copy but they’re in her binder. And then she has a sheet at the front of the binder to her recipes in her cookbooks. Essentially she’s created her own card catalog if you will but just in the binder format. In addition she notes when the last time she made a recipe, so she doesn’t get in a rut. Works for us.

Hi Jon - you can search the entire 2.2 million recipes in the EYB database. You don’t even need to sign-in or be a member to do that. You can also filter down to just view the 1.8 million cookbook recipes, and filter by any recipe type, ethnicity, special diet, etc. Then sort by the most buzzed-about recipes. So for instance you could view 12,000+ European bread recipes - Recipes | Eat Your Books Then narrow down further by adding ingredients or other filters. You can also view the 909 bread cookbooks we list - Cookbooks | Eat Your Books And you can view the recipe index of the 220 we have indexed by clicking the book titles.

Just finished checking out this site. This site is actually an index to cookbooks and recipe websites. What I found is that most of the recipes. are not available from the actual website but take you to other sites to purchase the recipe, a paid subscription, or to purchase the book. There are a few recipes available for free but most require some sort of payment. For instance, I did a search for “Peking” and out of 10 webpages for recipes I found only 2 free authentic recipes for it with one listing taking me to Julia Child’s recipe for Duck with Orange Sauce. As for magazines, forget about a magazine counting as a single item on your bookshelf. When doing a search for “Cooks Illustrated” each monthly magazine counted as a single item on your bookshelf and has to be added individually. This makes the concept of saving money on a subscription virtually non-existent. as 5 of the magazines is the limit of your free subscription to the site and as a subscription site the cost is $30/year along with the hassle of individually adding each monthly addition to your bookshelf. Like so many other things in life, this site is a poster site for the old adage: “You get what you pay for.” Essentially this site strikes me as being little more than being a search engine for food related recipes, cookbooks, and magazines. Personally, I can mostly accomplish the same thing by using a search engine, and a bookmarks folder for my recipe bookmarks when searching for a new recipe. If you have DevonThink (DT) you can save all your recipes you have captured via PDF from websites as well as your own into a folder, Index them with DT, tag them by categories and use DT for any kind of search, including by ingredient if you have OCR’ed the recipe with the built in DT tool instead of endless paying forever, mostly for the privilege of discovering recipes to purchase. DT while expensive (discounted for Tidbits members), is pay once except for infrequent major upgrades at discount with immense capabilities for many needs.

Hi jweil - I’m afraid you have misunderstood the purpose of Eat Your Books. It is not a recipe site. It is a service to make finding recipes in your own collection of cookbooks and magazine quick and easy. You create a Bookshelf of the cookbooks you own and the magazines you subscribe to. Then when looking for a recipe you search your own collection - using ingredients, recipe type, ethnicity, special diet, etc. We do provide links to some full recipes (about 370,000) from cookbooks, magazines and online sources. These are free. But if you want a search engine of your own Bookshelf then that requires a Premium membership - $2.50 a month for an annual membership. Although you describe the site as “little more than being a search engine for food related recipes, cookbooks, and magazines” that is exactly the service that is needed for people who own a lot of cookbooks and magazines. Your suggestion of indexing them all yourself in order to save $2.50 per month may be an option for people with a lot of spare time and who love data entry, but most are happy to have us do all the indexing (2.2 million recipes to date).

Thank you for your clarification. Unfortunately, the original writeup of the service left me with the impression that all the available recipes could be downloaded and it was certainly not clear to me that with magazines each issue of a magazine counts as a single book and that if you want access to recipes from your website for a magazine, each issue has to manually added to your bookshelf.

Would it be a fair assumption to assume that once you have added indexed material to your bookshelf with a paid subscription, should you decide to revert to free access that downloading of recipes in your paid subscription beyond 5 items on your bookshelf would no longer be available for download through your bookshelf?

With a Premium membership you can add all indexed issues of a magazine to your Bookshelf in one move, explained here in our Help - Most magazines put up the recipes on their websites, with free access. Some are immediate, some are within a couple of months. We provide links to every recipe that a magazine puts online, unless it is behind a paywall.

If you want to convert a Premium membership to a Free one, you would first need to reduce your Bookshelf to 5 items. Then with your Free membership you can add as many Online Recipes to your Bookshelf as you wish as well as any of the indexed blogs/newspaper columns (a total of almost 370,000 recipes). But I want to clarify that we do not offer “downloading of recipes”. We provide links to the source and you can then save from there in whichever way you save online content.

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