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The Moosewood Cookbook

9 Jul

Look inside The Moosewood Cookbook on Amazon.

This is one of the cookbooks that my mum has had and used since I was a little girl, so I’d never really thought about the design of it until I began this scrapbook. It was first published in the seventies and I think you can tell, but I still think it’s interesting to look at.

It’s all set out in this hand-written font, which is presumably taken from the handwriting of the author, Mollie Katzen. Everything, even the imprint page and the page numbers, is ‘hand-written’ which I think is really cute (the only exception is the index, which has only hand-drawn letter separators). It works for a cook book – everyone has those little books full of hand-written recipes at home and I think this reflects that tradition. Like I mentioned in the How to be a Domestic Goddess post, cook books are really made to be used not ‘read’ and I think using this font reflects this purpose of the book: it’s like it’s already been used and loved by someone else.

And, even though the publishers have opted for this hand-written look (emphasised by cute hand-drawn illustrations), the usability of the book hasn’t been compromised: it still follows a logical order, the text is easy to read, and things like the contents page are well set out and logical to use. The other thing I think is quite useful in this book is that there is a second contents for each chapter, making it easy to navigate through the chapter.

How to Be a Domestic Goddess

8 Jul

Look inside How to Be a Domestic Goddess on Amazon.

Cook books are meant to be used, not necessarily read so it’s really important that their contents and index pages, not to mention the recipe pages themselves, are all carefully laid-out in a way that makes their use and the information that they contain obvious. Also, because everyone seems to have a bit of a fetish for nice food books, they need to be as good looking as a design book at the same time.

I think How to be a Domestic Goddess is a nice example of bringing all the elements together in a way that works. For a start, I like the way that (in the edition I’ve included here) the black, gold and warm brown colours of the cover are pulled all the way through the internal design, in the chapter intro pages and the text itself.

After having just mentioned that I wasn’t sure about centre-aligned contents pages, I think this is an example of one that works. The reason for this, I think, is the use of colour and font size to differentiate between heading levels as well as a generous amount of space between the lines of text. There’s enough space for your eye to deal with one line at a time, and setting page numbers in a different colour helps to make them obvious without making them stick out in a bad way.

I like the use of a different paper colour to introduce colours. This makes the shift to a new section obvious by making it kind of an ‘event’. I also find the setting of the chapter title, like ‘Cakes’ in the bottom right-hand corner really pleasing: I feel like it’s just inviting you to follow it over on to the next page! Plus the white text on the chocolate paper has a definitely sumptuous effect that is so Nigella (it makes me think of cream and chocolate … and makes my mouth water).

I think the layout of the recipes themselves is also really effective. It’s really clear where the ingredients are (bold, two columns) and where the method starts, without actually having to use headings to spell it out. I’m intrigued by the large first-line indent of each paragraph, I’ve never really noticed that before but I think it works. I also really like that each recipe has an introduction: when you look at each page, it looks quite balanced with heading, ingredients, method, variation, etc.

I think the index is quite simply and clearly set out. Having two columns allows more text without it being cluttered, and having the indents for subsidiary headings makes it easy to skim through and find what you’re looking for.

The Secrets of Pistoulet

23 Jun

This is kind of like a kids’ book for adults, which is why I’ve included it in this scrapbook. It’s really interactive – there are little recipe cards you can pull out, scrapbooky images, cute little hand-drawn illustrations and details around the pages.

It’s very much a gifty book. It comes in a little sleeve with a window cut into through which you can see a black and white image of a woman looking through. This design reflects the story of the book: it’s inviting you to take a peek into a magical and whimsical world of french country houses and comfort food.

The typesetting’s not always super-sleek but I think that’s OK for this book. It’s kind of quaint and personal feeling, so the images and the hand-drawn aspects of the design are its appeal.