On my cookbook shelf, along with the usual suspects (e.g., Barefoot Contessa, Weight Watchers, Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook) are a handful of books that are my go-to standards when I am trying to figure out what I am going to make with what I have on hand. Quite a few of my very favorite recipes that I have developed on my own were in inspired in one way or another from something in one of these. Some of them are out of print, but you can still find used copies. Others are newer, but I am already feeling that they will have a place of honor on that shelf. When I get a new cookbook, I tend to read it cover to cover like a novel for the first go-round. I particular like ones that have some sort of story that goes with recipes. I also love great illustrations/photos. Not that stories and illustrations make great recipes…but they are sure a nice complement. In this day and age when you can hop on the internet and instantly find recipes from all corners of the world from everyplace like The Food Network to food bloggers, there is something really refreshing and comforting about pulling a loved book off the shelf, turning it to a page that is a little bit messy with food stains, and cooking something you know you love.
Some of these are very traditional cookbooks (e.g., Salad Days). Others are memiors or stories with recipes throughout (e.g., Herb Gardening in Five Seasons) and then others are food bibles that, in addition to mounds of recipes, tell you about how to stock your pantry or how to master crucial cooking styles (e.g., Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone).
Here they are, in no particular order:
- Marcel Desaulniers (1998) – Salad Days
- Deborah Madison (2007) – Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
- Adelma Grenier Simmons(1990) – Herb Gardening in Five Seasons
- Mireille Guiliano (2009) – French Women For All Seasons
- Kim Rizk (1998) – The Hay Day Country Market Cookbook
- Jeanne Jones (1998) – Canyon Ranch Cooking: Bringing the Spa Home
- Molly Wizenberg (2010) – A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table
- Ellen Ecker Ogden (2003) – From the Cook\’s Garden