Since I love to cook, I have quite a few cookbooks. Maybe more than “a few”. My family knows this, as I frequently receive them as gifts. My sisters will pass on to me those they no longer want.
I love to page through a cookbook to see what I might like. It’s even better if the author has included comments at the start of a chapter, and really better if comments are made for each recipe. Then I can sit and read through it like a novel. I usually end up marking pages with sticky notes on the pages of interest. Cookbooks seem special when they have a ribbon to mark pages, and let me find something easily for the next time. Now most cookbooks I only find a few things I really want to try. But some books are just loaded with recipes that look interesting. And some cookbook themes draw me in, like Make the Bread, Buy the butter – what you should and shouldn’t cook from scratch. See what I mean? I was curious from the start….what should I be making that I am not?
Then there are the books that center on my favorite kitchen tool – my cast iron pans. What’s not to love when pages though a cookbook to find a new way to use it. And the books that aren’t really cookbooks ( like The Kitchen Companion) which aren’t really cookbooks at all, but cover all the other things you might need to know, from conversions to pot capacities to what herb to use.
Sometimes the draw is really the author. I love anything Martha Stewart, Ina Gartner, Ree Drummond, or Julia Child. Jamie Oliver, and Tyler Florence rank high as well.
Pictures are nice, but not necessary for me to enjoy a cookbook. One of my sisters, though, requires a picture of every recipe. She says she needs to know what it’s supposed to look like, so she knows if she made it right. I figure if it tastes good, I made it right, and maybe I created my own look for it.
A good cookbook is a friend. I know it’s a friend when it falls open to the right pages, and they are stained and spotted with the drips of liquids and bits of ingredients from using these pages so many times.
I thought it might be nice to share with you what my favorite books are, and why.
Joy Of Cooking – The Joy of Cooking is a classic. I have used it for years. Simple and straight forward recipes, and it’s huge collection of them.
Betty Crocker Cookbook – This was my very first cookbook, given to me by my mother when I was in high school. I have a copy from 1970’s. The spine is broken, and many pages quite stained. Some recipes are favorites I still make.
The Vegetable Butcher – Cara Mangini shows how to break down vegetables step by step, with photographs. Great when you encounter something new you are not familiar with, or when you need some ideas for preparing a vegetable differently. There are over 150 recipes included along with the instructions on cleaning, prepping and preparing veggies from A to Z.
The Doubleday Cookbook set This set is no longer in print but you can find used copies. My pages under the bread recipes are stained, and I have many dog-eared pages so I can find my favorite recipes more quickly.
Pie – When I was a young, I asked my mom for a cookbook one Christmas just for making pies. This was long before the internet, and big bookstores. She couldn’t find one, and hand wrote in a small tablet as many pie recipes as she could. Pictured above, it is one of my treasurers. Seeking even more pie recipes I finally found this book. It has over 300 pie recipes, almost anything you could want. I still occasionally find an interesting recipe that I will tear form a magazine and stick into the book near other similar recipes.
Another of my very favorites is also one my favorite foods – The Ultimate Soup Cookbook. This book has over 900 soup recipes. It is a book I turn to when I wonder how I can use up “x” or what I might be able to make with “y”. It’s another book that has almost every recipe you could need for making soup. There are other soup only books out there, but this one has earned a permanent place on my kitchen shelf.
I hope you find them useful. I’m always on the look out for other great cookbooks. What are your favorites?