Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fine Literature: A Library Review

Dear readers and writers alike,

As you know, I love books and I love to cook.  The best of both worlds combine with what I like to call "Cook Books!"  Perhaps you've heard of them?

I've acquired a bit of a collection over the years, and I enjoy them immensely.  It is a rare day that you will find me without a cookbook, cooking magazine, or something of the type in my hand or in my bag close by.  I enjoy reading them the same way you enjoy reading a novel, so don't think it odd that I have so many.  I also have a large stack of new books from the library and some that I am borrowing from my mom - the reading material is endless!

Somebody asked me if I have too many recipes, or too many cookbooks.  The answer is no!  A cookbook is like a friend ... you get something different out of each one, you spend time with it, you don't see it for a year, and then you renew the relationship as you find yourself in a new stage of life.  You don't necessarily make every recipe out of every book - sometimes you just pull little bits and pieces from one, mix them with bits and pieces from another.

Some books become familiar favorites - I know where every spot is on every page, can find my way through to my favorite recipes with my eyes closed.  I write notes on every recipe I make, giving it a rating of 0 - 5 stars, writing comments, tweaks I made to the ingredients or process, advice for the next time I make it.

Instead of keeping a formal menu in my cooking notebook, I will take a few of my current top cookbooks and flip through them, one page at a time, writing down the title and page number of all the recipes that I am currently interested in making, and have ingredients on hand for.  Then, as I plan meals over the next few days, all I need to do is refer to my list of possible dishes and see which one sounds appetizing at the moment.  This system works really well for me because I tend to not stick to formal weekly menus very well, since so very often a schedule is changed at the last minute.

As I make each recipe from my list, I cross it out until the list is completely exhausted - or I get bored of the cookbook and move on to a different one!

The books that I use the most frequently at the current time I keep in a small cupboard above my stove.  This collection rotates based on my interests, with the more general collection on the kitchen shelf.

I love my cookbooks and I take them very seriously.  I also have a treasured stack of much-abused recipes handwritten, printed, or copied, from my mom's collection of heirloom recipes or from a friends' (often stolen from Miz Carmen's copious library!).  I also have a folder in my computer thickly packed with dozens of recipes typed out of newspaper clippings and from other blogs and cooking sites.  From time to time, as printers become available to me, I will print favorites of these out and add them to my stack of papers.  These, along with my magazines, are in magazine holders above the stove.

Very often somebody will ask me what cookbooks I have, and which I recommend.  Some have come over and written down titles to take home and research for themselves.  To make the bibliography more convenient, I am posting a fairly comprehensive list of the cookbooks I currently own (and a few that I've been borrowing for a while!) below.  There are a few in this list that I have never used.  I am not sure where they all came from, either!  Some I purchased myself; some are treasured gifts.  Some I picked up at garage sales, or were given to me when somebody moved or cleaned out their library.  Some were my mom's, but she didn't have room to keep them and I couldn't bear (neither could she!) to see them tossed.  Some were Gary's before we married, and some just wandered in on their own and won't leave.  And do I want more?  Of course; in all seriousness, there are a few basic cookbooks that I would like to have, and I love antique and specialty books and cooking magazines.  But I enjoy the many books I have and would most certainly find myself content and with plenty of learning material if they were all I ever owned.

Happy winter reading,

Mrs H
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* I put a star next to the books I use the most frequently.

Canning and Preserving Guides: 
*Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving, 2009 and 1977 editions
Kerr Home Canning Book, 1950 and 1952 editions
*Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, ed. by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine
Preserving Summer's Bounty, by Rodale Garden Books
*Jam it, Pickle it, Cure it, by Karen Solomon

*America's Best Lost Recipes, by America's Test Kitchen
(Borrowed) Flying Apron's Gluten-Free & Vegan Baking Book, by Jennifer Katzinger
*Best of Country Cookies, by Taste of Home
The Fannie Farmer Baking Book, by Marion Cunningham
*King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking

General Cooking Guides: 
The Best of Amish Cooking by Phyllis Good
Prairie Home Cooking, by Judith Fertig
*The Best American Classics, by editors of Cook's Illustrated

Soups, Stews, and Slow-Cookers: 
Fix it and Forget it Cookbook, by Ranck and Good
*Twelve Months of Monastery Soups, by d'Avila-Latourrette
On Rice, by Rick Rodgers
*Cooking Under Cover by Linda and Fred Griffith

Various Specialty Books: 
Guy Food, by Rachel Ray
Favorite Recipes from Famous New Orleans Restaurants
Betty Crocker's Cookbook for Boys and Girls, 2003 facsimile
Kids Cooking by Klutz Press
Blend It! (Smoothie book) by Good Housekeeping
The Cafe Cook Book, by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers
How to Grill, by Steven Raichlen
*The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz
The Complete Barbecue Cookbook, by Bay Books

World Cuisine: 
The Italian Country Table, by Lynne Rosssetto Kasper
The World's Finest Food
The Italian Cookbook, by Gabriella Rossi
*Italianissimo, by McRae Books
Ken Hom's Quick Wok, by Ken Hom
Dim Sum, by Vicki Liley
Wok Fast, by Carpenter and Sandison
Favorite Chinese Dishes, by Parragon Publishing
Bugialli on Pasta, by Giuliano Bugialli
*Giada's Kitchen, by Giada de Laurentiis
The United States Cookbook, by D'amico and Drummond
Where Flavor was Born, by Andreas Viestad

Local Cooking: 
Local Flavors, by Deborah Madison
The Herbfarm Cookbook, by Jerry Traunfeld
The Lewis and Clark Cookbook, by Leslie Mansfield
*Ray's Boathouse, by Ken Gouldthorpe

Magazines and Specialty Brands: 
Better Homes and Gardens Encyclopedia of Cooking, 1970 edition
Better Homes and Gardens Pies and Cakes, 1966 edition
Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (missing pages), 1948 edition
*Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Cooking, Fall 2007
American Girl Cookbooks: Samantha'sFelicity'sMolly's, and Kirsten's (all 1994 ed, all borrowed from my sister's except for the Kirsten book, which is mine)
Cuisine at Home, 7 issues
*Cook's Country Annual Cookbook, 2007, 2008, and 2009
1 issue of Clean Eating 
1 issue of Taste of Home's Light and Tasty 
(I threw away a whole box of Taste of Home just before our wedding, sadly) 
8 issues of Cook's Illustrated magazine
Cook's Illustrated Summer Grilling & Entertaining magazine, Summer 2008
Cook's Illustrated Holiday Baking magazine, Fall 2008

I have a special basket of small booklets and old-time cookbooks: 
Jell-O Recipe Collection tin, 2009
Jell-O Gelatin Recipes Plain or Festive, 1961 edition
Joys of Jell-O, 1963 edition
Sunsweet Recipes, 1950 edition
The Washington-Grown Fryer Handbook, year n/a but I would guess 1960s by photographs
Better Living with your new G-E Food Freezer, year n/a but I would guess 1950s by pictures
Old-Time Farmhouse Cooking by Barbara Swell
*Eat This and Live! by Don Colbert
A Calendar of Dinners with 615 Recipes, by Marion Harris Neil, 1921 edition (reprint of 1913 original)
(Borrowed) Chicago Daily News Cook Book, 1930 edition

*I put a star next to the books I use the most frequently.  



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