I’ve always loved cookbooks. From my first one (Sunset Best Kids Cook Book…which I still have and is one of Cedar’s favourite books to look at), a gift from my parents at the tender age of eight, until now with a collection of over twenty, cookbooks have always been something I’ve enjoyed. Maybe it’s the combination of food and books, but they’ve often been something I could just sit and read for a long time.
Because yes, I read cookbooks. As many of you probably guessed from the “recipes” I post on here, I rarely ever actually cook from a written-out recipe. I get an idea and start throwing in whatever sounds good and it usually turns out pretty yummy. As such, cookbooks serve as inspiration for me, and in reading them I can glean little tidbits of info on processes and ingredients that will hopefully continue to improve my cooking overall.
Recently I went through my cookbook shelf and got rid of the few that I didn’t like anymore, and added a few courtesy of some birthday money (the “Cookbooks” section of my Amazon wishlist always has something in it!). And in the long process of trying to decide which cookbooks to buy with my birthday money, I thought about cookbooks a lot (ask Aaron how long I obsessed over it…or maybe don’t!). And after I made my decisions and added them to my shelf, I decided that I should blog about my cookbooks since their shelf is one of my favourite parts of our house (I have many). So, in this post and several more to come, I’m planning on going through my cookbooks and telling you a little bit about them and what each have contributed/are contributing to how I cook now.
So, without further ado, and in no particular order…my cookbooks!
The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution – by Alice Waters: If I had to choose just one cookbook to have for the rest of my life (other than my massive black binder full of recipes I’ve collected over the years), this would be it. Aaron gave it to me for my birthday the first year we were married, but that’s not the only reason I love it. Compared to many of my other cookbooks, it doesn’t really have a lot of recipes, but it makes up for it in the notes and lessons. From this book, I learned how to roast a chicken properly. But it didn’t just show me how to roast it for their particular recipe for roast chicken, it taught me how to roast one in general so then I can take that knowledge and expand on it and come up with all sorts of delicious possibilities. And all the recipes are like that. The book is divided into two parts: first are the seventeen chapters of “Lessons and Foundation Recipes” and then part two contains more recipes that build and expand on the ones from the first part. Definitely a cookbook I would recommend to anyone, regardless of their cooking expertise and ability.
The Commonsense Kitchen: 500 Recipes + Lessons for a Hand-Crafted Life – by Tom Hudgens: This is one of my recent acquisitions and my current read. And even though I haven’t even finished it yet, I put it right up there with The Art of Simple Food. Another of those cookbooks with lessons along with the recipes, in this first reading I’ve already learned many different things that can help my cooking even if I never cook specifically from this book. I think I’ll be using this book often…several the recipes I read last night made me anxious for things to start to cool down so I can cook and bake more. Also similar to The Art of Simple Food, this cookbook doesn’t contain any photos, but you don’t find yourself missing them since there’s so much good info in what you read.
Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Famers’ Markets – by Deborah Madison: This one was a thank-you gift from one of Aaron’s brothers for helping him with a meal he was catering and I’m so thankful he picked it out for me. While I haven’t ever actually cooked anything from it, I’m often inspired by the myriad ways she prepares vegetables…and all the different combinations too! And I’ll admit, sometimes I just page through it to look at the pictures…the photography of the vegetables and the farmers’ markets they came from are just beautiful. And sprinkled throughout the book are little essays on the different farmers’ markets that she’s visited around the country, very fun to read.
Green and Black’s Chocolate Recipes – by Caroline Jeremy: It’s no secret that Green & Black’s is my absolute favourite brand of chocolate (we even had them for favours at our wedding!). And so I was very excited when one of my best friends gave me this cookbook for Christmas several years ago. I haven’t actually made anything in it yet (mostly because any Green & Black’s chocolate I have gets eaten quickly and not cooked with!), but all the different ways they use chocolate are delicious to see. And throughout the book is information on how cacao is grown and Green & Black’s chocolate is made (it’s fair-trade). A book that will definitely make you drool and then go and eat a handful of chocolate chips!
More to come…