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Picture this: You want to make vegetarian lasagna for your family. You're sure you've got at least 10 recipes for this very dish in your vast cookbook collection, but have neither the time nor the energy to sift through the books to find out where the recipes are. With a new website called Eat Your Books, you'll be able to tap a few keystrokes, and discover which of your cookbooks, in your home, contains a vegetarian lasagna recipe. Then you can simply pluck out the correct books and get cooking.
After using the site for a while, I've become a big fan. Anyone with more than a handful of cookbooks will find the timesavings huge. You spend a bit of upfront effort keying in which cookbooks you own (essentially building your own digitized database), and then later on, when you're ready to search, Eat Your Books spits out answers to your recipe queries in seconds. It doesn't actually provide the recipes; it simply tells you where they are on your bookshelf.
The site has indexed over 290,000 recipes, and counting. So while some of your more obscure books may not yet be in the database, enough will be there to make your participation worth considering. (You can get a 30-day free trial before committing.)
Of course, you can always download recipes from your favorite websites — we all know how easy that is to do. But if you rely exclusively on the web, your cookbooks will be largely defunct, and that would be sad. The web and the bookshelf should be partners. When they are, it's the home cooks — like you and me — who win.