I don't understand why more people don't have one.
It's a long-standing joke in my family that my mother cooks on top of her cookbooks. She'll find the recipe she wants, lay it open on the counter, and then proceed to cook in and around the book in such a way that, by the end, it is usually covered in onion skins, carrot peels, flour, and butter wrappers. I've even seen her place a mixing bowl directly on the paper.
Not surprisingly, after all these years of abuse, her cookbook collection is in very rough shape. Pages are stained, rippled, and torn. A good example is the original Canadian Living Cookbook that she bought in the late '80s and passed on to me recently. You can see it in the picture below, with 30-year-old food dried onto the paper! It's almost a fossil.
While my mother is one of the finest cooks I know, and I strive to develop an ability like hers to whip up feasts at a moment's notice, I knew from an early age that I wanted a neater approach in the kitchen. (Sorry, Mom!) So the first thing I asked for when my husband and I moved into our house was a cookbook stand. He made me one for Christmas, and over the past eight years it has become a tool I can't imagine living without.
Whenever I'm ready to cook, I set my book, magazine, or phone on the stand and get to work. It's at just the right angle so I can read easily and flip pages. It keeps the paper away from oily bottles and tomato splatters, and it's wide enough to prop up several recipes if I've got multiple dishes on the go.
One pleasant side-effect that I did not expect from having a cookbook stand was the conversations it sparks. Many people ask what it is and where they can get one. (Answer: Any kitchen supply store, but it might not be as beautiful as my homemade one!) I have several friends who, the moment they step into my kitchen, walk over to the stand to see what I've been cooking most recently. It leads to questions, photos taken of the recipes, and sometimes taste-tests if I have leftovers in the fridge.
As you can see, the stand gets a bit messy as the recipes pile up, but I don't really mind this. Sometimes I flip through the open pages when seeking inspiration. It's like a real-life equivalent of an Instagram feed displaying delicious food; I can remember what I've made and eaten recently and get ideas for what's coming next.
Simple, yet effective. That's how I like my time- and effort-saving solutions to be, and the cookbook stand is the best example of that in my kitchen.