My cookbook collection is one of the things I am most proud of. I pick up a new cookbook every time I travel or am so moved. Just like regular books, I typically borrow from the library before purchasing. My rule is there has to be at least four recipes I would make again before I make the investment.
These five books below have given me well over four yummy recipes. In fact, if my kitchen ever starts on fire, it will be these five books I first rescue (after my KitchenAid mixer and gigantic non-stick frying pan (and Malorie and Noah), of course.) You could easily feed a family with almost any one of these by themselves. Well, the last one listed might not be the most nutritious, but it would definitely make for tasty and high calorie meals!
Without further ado, here are my five favorite cookbooks.
If you are reading this post, it means you have at least a passing interest in cooking. This probably means that somewhere along the way someone gave you this workhorse of a cookbook. And rightfully so. If you find yourself in the mood for yeast dinner rolls, ginger dressing, or baked trout, the Joy of Cooking will be the book to turn to for the most basic recipes. It will help explain the difference between short ribs and baby back ribs. Read it and you may finally feel comfortable canning things and cooking meat that you can only find if you know a guy who hunts it.
In short, the Joy of Cooking just might be the book version of a three month long cooking course. Having this knowledge in your back pocket (and/or top shelf) will make you a more confident and varied cook.
Favorite Recipes: Pesto Pizza Appetizer, Boneless Pork Roast, How to Cook Winter Squash, and Plum Jam
Ok, these two books actually go together. Both of these books came out of the Junior League of Houston, whose elegance and refinery are shown in the recipes. I love me a good ladies group cookbook. I would give an honorable mention to the Tierra Linda and Scottsdale Homeowner’s Association books also gracing my shelves, but Stop and Smell the Rosemary: Recipes and Traditions to Remember and Peace Meals get top honors because they turn out everyday recipes that make you feel like you should light candles and get out the good china. Even the photographs and fonts used in the book are classy.
Favorite Recipes: Toffee Chocolate Pecan Pie (my Thanksgiving staple), A+ Cookies, Ocean Breeze Cocktail and Creamy Pumpkin Polenta
I picked up this guy while camping with friends in Door County a few years back. If I remember correctly, it was the first summer Randy and I lived together. I knew it was the grown-up thing to do to make dinner in a crockpot, but most recipes fed a crowd. Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Recipes for Two is perfect for just two people, sometimes giving enough for leftovers, too. If it’s just you, you and and a spouse or a whole family, but with little littles, this is a great help for the days you’re just not feeling it. Most recipes are done in 7-8 hours on low or 2-3 hours on high, so plan accordingly.
Favorite Recipes: Lynn’s Springtime Risotto for Two, Vegetable Chile con Carne, Orange Teriyaki Chicken and Pork Tenderloin with Ginger-Plum Glaze
For being the dessert lover that I am, I have a surprisingly low number of dessert specific cookbooks. Even worse, those that I have, I don’t love. The Dessert Bible is too wordy and even though he tested every recipe TO DEATH, I still don’t find them to be that delicious. My old Hershey’s Cookbook I brought back from my mom’s collection calls for too much margarine and not enough whole wheat flour. I picked up The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook on our trip to Powell’s Bookstore last year, but haven’t made anything out of it yet. Too much work!
But this book… This book has got it all going on and has the Sam’s Club bulk butter order to prove it. Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth definitely isn’t the book to pick up if you’re looking to watch your weight (and/or forgo white sugar), but I have yet to try a recipe that didn’t leave me wanting to devour the whole damn thing (more often than not even when it was still in batter form.) If you have a sweet lover in your family, get this and consider it the best investment in your relationship. It’s so, so good!
Favorite Recipes: Ooh! Brown Sugar! and Almond Pound Cake, Gooey Caramel Butter Bars, Mama’s Merry Christmas Meringues, and All Grown-Up S’mores
While these are my current favorite five, I’m not ready to give up the hunt quite yet. I’m always on the lookout for new cookbooks to test. Do you have a favorite that should be on my to try list?