I love cookbooks. In fact, I was a strange child; I read cookbooks for fun. And copied recipes — for fun. Today, I’ve got a wonderful collection of well-worn books and recipe cards that I refer to, tweak, and enjoy.
Here are three cookbooks I love:
My copy of The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook by Beth Hensperger is falling apart. I have used it so much over the last ten years when I got my first bread machine for a Christmas present. Truly, it has been a bread saver. When I first started using my bread machine, I had a few flops and was ready to throw in the towel, but my husband encouraged me to search out a cookbook on bread machines.
I parked myself in the cookbook section of a book store and browsed the selections. This is the one I settled on, and we’re all so glad I did. (Of course, I bought it for cheaper on Amazon.)
But it is actually worth its weight in gold. Not only does this cookbook hold a wealth of great bread machine recipes, but it also explains the science behind breadmaking and illustrates how bread machine baking is different from traditional bread baking. I find this information to be invaluable. It’s the front matter of the book, which some people ignore when referencing cookbooks.
Once I read this book from cover to cover, it changed how I looked at cookbooks. Now, when there’s a type of food I want to learn to make, I search out a cookbook on the topic and read the front matter very carefully. Usually, this is where the teaching happens. And you can learn so much that you aren’t reliant on the recipes themselves.
I tweak almost every recipe that crosses my path, often because I don’t have all the ingredients called for. This book has been my starting point for many a recipe. And since it taught me about bread, it’s given me the confidence to tweak away.
Ok, another favorite is not a “cookbook” per se. But, it is a well-loved in these here parts. This well-worn book on my shelf is The Food Lover’s Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst. I actually own the second edition which I bought fifteen years ago. It has been indispensable when I come across an unfamiliar ingredient or wonder how a certain vegetable should be stored.
Since we’re a family of foodies, it’s also been a source of dinner able conversation. Someone will ask about a food and where it came from or what it is. We get “the book” and learn together.
Sunday night we sat down to a meal of grilled chicken, couscous, and salad. And since couscous isn’t often on the table, it spurred some conversation. What is couscous, anyway? Thanks to The Food Lover’s Companion, we all know now that it is granular semolina.
A third book that I’ve recently added to my shelf is by my friend Erin Chase. Erin has put together a fabulous resource for those wanting to shave down their grocery budgets. Not only is every recipe in The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook marked with a price breakdown, but the front matter of this book is exceptional for the coaching it provides. Erin shows you how to start out couponing, matching to grocery sales, and meal planning.
Again, this is another cookbook that gives you tools for success, not just recipes.
What’s a favorite food book you’ve got on your shelf?
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