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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Cookbooks -- On my Kitchen Bookshelf

I don't own a lot of cookbooks but I sure do like reading them -- I figure that's one of the purposes of public libraries and I generally check cookbooks out by the handful.  I love paging through them!  Occasionally -- wait for it -- I even cook something from a cookbook!  But I definitely don't feel pressured to do so.  Most of the time I'm just enjoying the pretty pictures, expanding my food horizons by reading about the possibilities, but I'm not really going to actually use the cookbook. 

What about you?  I expect you have your favorite cookbook author or TV cooking show host extraordinaire...  someone whose recipes you completely trust and whose style of cooking meshes well with your tastes and preferences.

Here are a few of my favorites, cookbooks that I actually cook from.  These are the ones that are on the bookshelf above my kitchen counter and that I pull ideas and recipes from regularly.

Betty Crocker's New Cookbook -- basic cooking information with many tried-and-true recipes.
Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl and Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from my Frontier  -- sure you can get a lot of good recipes on her website but the book is great too and with few exceptions, everything I make from her is delish!
Joy of Cooking -- I don't actually cook much from this but it's a great ingredient and know-how resource
More-with-Less Cookbook -- this one has stood the test of time, originally published in 1976, it has withstood the 80's, 90's, and the "oughts", with all the food fads and no-nos, it promote real food and simple, healthful recipes. 

In addition I have few new favorites or potential favorites --

Ten Dollar Dinners by Melissa D'Arabian -- ways to cook healthy and tasty food for your family, without spending a lot at the grocery store.  Check this one out from the library and you might end up buying your own copy.
How to Cook Everything: The Basics by Mark Bittman.  I really like this one.  Again, try to review a library copy and decide if you want to own.
How to Cook like a Rock Star by Anne Burrell.  I just bought this after a friend strongly recommended.  Am eager to try!

By far my favorite recipe resource, however, is my hand-made notebook of recipes that I've collected over the years -- from friends, blogs, other online resources.  I definitely recommend keeping something like this in your kitchen, it's as simple as buying a spiral-bound notebook and taping or stapling recipes onto each page.  Write your comments around them.  If you didn't like a recipe after making it, just tape another one over it!  Every recipe in this journal is one that I make over and over again and I find it a much better way to keep track of all those printed-out-recipes than stuffing them in a drawer or into another cookbook...  or any of the other places we stuff those kinds of pieces of paper...

I also use this recipe journal as a place to record menus for holiday or special meals and for what I served when we've had friends over for dinner.  This helps me in creating new menus and I like to have a record of what I've served.

Lastly, I have a recipe collection binder that I bought years ago from a Pampered Chef consultant.  This is where I keep recipes that come to me from family members and friends, most of these recipes are pre-internet and were hand-written on a recipe card.

What's your favorite cookbook?