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The time has come!  My top 10 picks for the best cookbooks of2013 have been released, on CookShelf, the cookbook-ratings app!  on sale for one week starting today for just 99¢!

If you’re starting your holiday shopping this week – and who isn’t? –   CookShelf, will guide to not only my top 10 picks for 2013, but over 250+ other great cookbooks worth getting or giving, along with analysis that looks at skill requirements, recipe listings, and design.   And in-app purchase links make it easy to do all your cookbook shopping with one click.

Who needs CookShelf?  You do!

I need CookShelf for iPhone/iPad!

I need CookShelf for Android!

Next week here on the blog: the honorable mentions list – a long one! Click here for last year’s honorable mentions shortlist.




A happy Thanksgiving to all!  and don’t forget to tune in tomorrow on the CookShelf app to find out – at last – the BEST COOKBOOKS OF 2013!

Get CookShelf for iPhone/iPad!
Get CookShelf for Android!


Only 2 days left till the 2013 Best Cookbooks roundup releases!  Have you got your CookShelf on?

I need CookShelf for iPhone/iPad!

I need CookShelf for Android!


Exciting news! This year, I will be releasing my choices for the top 10 cookbooks of 2013 on my app, CookShelf! It’s happening this Friday, Nov. 29th – the day after Thanksgiving.  

You know you don’t want to get squashed in the Black Friday crowds.  You know you want to rest your poor, turkey-stuffed self in the comfiest chair in the house and start ordering gifts  for your cookbook-loving friends and family online.

On CookShelf, you’ll find not only my top 10 picks for 2013, but over 250+ other great cookbooks worth getting or giving, along with analysis that looks at skill requirements, recipe listings, and design – everything you need to decide that all-important question: which cookbook to buy.  And in-app purchase links make it easy to do all your cookbook shopping with one click.

Who needs CookShelf?  You do!

I need CookShelf for iPhone/iPad!

I need CookShelf for Android!



CookShelf for iPhone/iPadWhen people find out what I do for a job, the most common question they ask is “So what are your favorite cookbooks?”   I usually stutter a bit and then pull up the name of something I’ve tested in the last few months that’s better than average.

But the REAL answer, I know, is easy – just hard to remember.  My favorite cookbooks are the books on The Shelf.  I like to keep my top 50 or so books close to the Kitchen, so they go on The Shelf.  The others all go upstairs to the Library.  Occasionally, a book in the Library will make me go up and downstairs so many times that it graduates to the Shelf.

And now, ta-DA!  you can see my Shelf cookbooks – the cookbooks I’ve lived with, tested repeatedly, and learned to love – on CookShelf!  It’s easy.  If you have CookShelf already, be sure you’ve updated the app to the latest version and refreshed it.  Then, just tap the all-important menu button in the upper-left corner, and you’ll see “*T. Susan’s Kitchen Shelf” right on the list.

If you love cookbooks, and you haven’t downloaded CookShelf, why, what on earth’s stopping you?

I want CookShelf for iPhone/iPad now!

I want CookShelf for Android now!

Those of you who use and love CookShelf, my app for cookbook lovers, may have noticed there was something of an August lull.  You see, in August, cookbook publishers take a bit of a break, holding their most noteworthy titles for high season in fall.   As goes publishing, so goes CookShelf!

cookshelf fall

So over the break I added only a few new titles I felt were worth remarking on, and did not refresh the app until I had more to offer.

But now September’s here, and I’m kicking off the school year with a bang!  When you accept the CookShelf update next time you open the app, you’ll see a big new feature on school lunch cookbooks, with three brand-new titles going head-to-head.  It’s the first news on the school lunch front, cookbook-wise, in a *decade*!  Parents, rejoice!

And even as we speak, the fall cookbooks are starting to roll in…and there are some DOOZIES. I’ll be picking out the best of them and serving them up to you each Wednesday – so keep checking out your CookShelf for the latest!


Haven’t got it?

I want CookShelf for iPhone/iPad now!

I want CookShelf for Android now!

splash screen demoIt’s Wednesday, which means that new titles have been added to CookShelf!  If you click on “Just added!” in the main menu, you can see which cookbooks caught my eye this week – and how they did in the ratings.

In addition to the new titles, CookShelf has two brand-new filters.  You’ll find them right at the top in the menu:

Great for new graduates!  Cookbooks make a terrific gift for those just heading out on their own.  But which ones will really help?  CookShelf has a list of almost two dozen grad-friendly cookbooks to choose from – check it out.

2013 Beard Award winners:  The “Oscars of the food world” were announced last week, and many of the cookbooks honored can be found on CookShelf.  (That doesn’t mean I agreed with every one of the awards. )  Read my reviews of 2013’s Beard winners – and decide for yourself whether you should add them to your collection!

To see these features, make sure you have the latest version (the App Store will prompt you if you have the old one) and say Yes! when CookShelf offers you “updated content”.  If you’re downloading for the first time, everything will be right there waiting for you.

Get CookShelf for Android!

Get CookShelf for iPhone/iPad!

My good friend Monica Bhide put up a feature about CookShelf this morning which reminded me of how CookShelf got started, and so I wrote a little story about it for her site – you can read it there, following her post (and enter for a CookShelf giveaway!).

The short version is that it all began at the Roger Smith Cookbook Conference in the middle of February, when a snowstorm almost brought the city to a halt and we all were scrambling  around in the slush and kind of wishing we were on a beach somewhere.  I had gone with no particular plan other than to see friends, speak on a panel, meet a few new faces.  But talking with those friends forced an idea to take form, and before long I was forming what-ifs in my mind…as in what if I developed a cookbook-rating system?  What if I wrote an app? What if I worked really really hard and got it out by Mother’s Day?

I’ve learned that those what-ifs tend to lead to unforeseen consequences.  Previous what-ifs have included: What if I agreed to run down Central Park South in an evening gown and heels after a horse-drawn carriage while playing a saxophone?  What if I tried to make the apple cake my mom made when I was little?  What if I tried to write my own personal ad just for fun?  The first got me $100 and a really amazing pastrami sandwich.  The second led eventually, with many twists and turns, to A Spoonful of Promises.  The third led to my husband, two kids, and this whole crazy make-it-up-as-you-go life in New England.

Not all my what-ifs have turned out so great.  What if I do a backflip off of the edge of this swimming pool?  What if we tried to make our own funnel cake (this at age 6, with my sister)?  What if I take this scenic detour to Vermont, the one with all the “Moose Crossing”  signs?  What if I balance this 4-pound strawberry-rhubarb pie on a spatula while transferring it to the cooling rack?

So far, what have the what-if’s I asked 12 weeks ago in a midtown hotel while the snow fell all around us led to?  Well, firstly, 12 weeks of the hardest work I’ve done in my life – early mornings and late nights, with much leaning on the husband that other what-if brought me 15 years ago.  Secondly, much greater mental clarity in the evaluation of cookbooks.  Thirdly, increased speed and fluency in writing (what happens when you make yourself produce 200 words at a time in 10-minute intervals).  And lastly, the CookShelf app itself – this curious, shiny hybrid of authorship and convenience, produced by a person who 12 weeks ago barely knew what an app was  – and still doesn’t have a smartphone.

I never really can say, even afterward, whether any particular what-if was a game changer or a goose chase.  And there are probably better ways to live your life than chasing down one thing you don’t know after another.  There are probably lots of people – and maybe they’re right – who believe Why bother! is a much more sensible reply to life’s conundrums than What if?

But I’m still going to keep asking.

Loyal readers may have noticed that there’s been some radio silence here at the site for the last couple of weeks.  What’s up?! you may wonder.  We haven’t stopped cooking. And we definitely haven’t stopped eating.  Cookbooks are still being reviewed, recipes are still being tested, greens are being planted and chickens, scolded (they learned to cross the road to the library last week! and it wasn’t because they wanted to borrow the latest cozy mystery.  The next day, they got an electronet fence.)

app tease

sneak peek!

No, the reason for the blog pause has been a flurry of frantic, behind-the-scenes activity on my Big New Project.   It’s a cookbook-rating app! to be called CookShelf and published by Sutro Media.  In fact, it is the first ever cookbook-rating app on the market.

With an initial database of over 200 titles, CookShelf will offer rankings and ratings on  different criteria, like Skill Level and Giftworthiness. It’ll have mini-reviews, links to recipe-tested full reviews where available, peeks inside the books, filters for sorting out cookbook types, usability data (like page layout and recipe speed), buy links, and more.

In short, CookShelf will provide the expert recommendation you need to buy a cookbook you’ve never seen before with confidence – whether it’s for yourself or somebody you love.  (Hello, Mother’s Day!)

So, for the last several weeks I’ve been furiously developing a rating system, analyzing books, writing capsule reviews, entering and hyperlinking data, and sometime in the next couple of weeks –  when we’ve made it through Apple’s queue – the app will launch.

Stay tuned!  Cookbook expertise at your fingertips is on the way!

Now cooking

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