I collect things. I like to think of myself as a woman of simple pleasures and few needs, but there are certain types of items that gather to me like metal to a magnet. Scarves – yeah – I have a drawer full of them. Teapots, too – I have several hutch shelves dedicated to showing off those squat beauties.
And then there are my cookbooks. I have two shelves in my kitchen for cookbooks, and if it weren’t for the teapots that wouldn’t fit in the hutch, I could have filled up two more shelves. The thing about all of these collections is there are only a few of the items in question I come back to regularly. It is sheer pleasure for me to gather up an armful of cookbooks on a blustery night, sit down on the couch by the fire, and flip through gorgeous pictures of food and equally delicious-sounding recipes.
Yet only a few of these cookbooks have the dog-eared pages and stain marks to prove their frequent use. For that lived-with look, I’d recommend any of these for the food lovers (or newly weds, or college grads in first apartments) on your shopping list:
by Moosewood Collective
by Judith & Evan Jones
by Arthur Schwartz
There’s also my spiral bound blank notebook “I’m Writing My Own Cookbook” that my mother gave me eons ago. I’ve filled it up about a third of the way with family recipes and perennial favorites (e.g. sauerbraten, “Johnny Marghetti”, dump cake, tortilla soup, etc.).
And when all else fails, there is always Cook’s Illustrated. I love getting this magazine in the mail. The illustrations are fresh and simple, the tips highly practical, and the recipes are spot on.
If I had to cut back on cookbooks, these would all make the final cut. In fact, the Moosewood and my blank book with family recipes made it to Barbados then to Scotland and back again between 1995 and 1996. Even today, they would be the two I’d pack with me if I were to go on such an extended adventure again.
What cookbooks are your keepers?