Oh, I do love reading a new cookbook. So. Much. Fun.
I spent a blissful 1 1/2 hours at Barnes and Noble yesterday morning sipping tea and perusing some cookbooks I'm considering adding to my Christmas/Birthday wishlist (all while pleasant Christmas music played at an appropriate volume over their speakers).
And then I came home and pondered.
- Do I need a "new" cookbook when an older edition might work better?
- If I have really good, truly all-purpose cookbooks, why do I need another, similar title?
- I am reminded that wanting a new cookbook is not necessarily the answer if I'm merely bored with my current cooking experiences--in fact, since I trust my existing cookbooks, I'm better off flipping through them for new inspiration!
- So, I should make the most of the cookbooks I currently own!
There are still a few new cookbooks I have my eye on. Following my own advice, I now have them on hold from the library. I'm intrigued by some America's Test Kitchen offerings, notably the Cook's Country Lost Recipes and their main, large "heirloom" recipes book. But since I have such tomes as Joy of Cooking, How to Cook Everything, and the Cook's Illustrated Cookbook not to mention such cookbooks as Fannie Farmer (a great source for "lost recipe" type dishes) AND this blog which houses a number of my own family's old-fashioned favorites, I'm certain I don't "need" a new cookbook!
But perhaps you're in the position of gifting a cookbook and need to know which one to give... Here are some suggestions for the various foodies on your list (most of these are very down-to-earth and for real home cooks). Titles are linked to my reviews where available and to amazon otherwise:
- How to Cook Everything, 10th ann edition: hands down, one of the best all-purpose cookbooks for ordinary cooking
- Joy of Cooking (I prefer the 1997 edition): the standard with good reason, but a little more intimidating to navigate than H2CE for some reason. After a year with H2CE, I've settled back comfortably with Joy.
- The Betty Crocker Cookbook: know a recent college grad or someone who is needing a very ordinary all-purpose cookbook? Perhaps someone who has a small kitchen space and/or who might be intimidated by the sheer number of recipes in those first two books? This is a terrific option, spiral bound and compact, that provides a wealth of the basic kitchen/cooking info everyone needs to know--everything from cuts of meat to how long various foods keep in the freezer/fridge to recipe conversions to... Includes a lot of old-fashioned family favorites. Nutritional info also included.
- The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook: the best recipes from years of the magazine. This is a multi-purpose cookbook for the chef in your family: myriad versions of recipes and a huge range from ordinary to exotic. Recipes are detailed, extensive, and fun to look through. The baking/desserts section is dynamite.
- America's Test Kitchen Family Favorites or Healthy Family Favorite Cookbook: pictures, trust-worthy recipes, wide appeal for most recipes; variations and such but not as all-purpose as those first on the list. Still, I turn to these cookbooks frequently. The "healthy" one contains nutritional info.
- Simply in Season: A great option for the home cook who wants to incorporate more veggies into his/her cooking and who enjoys simple food. A terrific gift for those who participate in CSA's or who shop regularly at their local farmer's markets.
- Make-a-Mix Cookery: a fun idea for those busy home chefs who enjoy from-scratch cooking but who don't always have time.