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How many cookbooks do you own?
If you’re anything like me, the answer is…A LOT.
We’ve done a few posts highlighting some of our favorite whole food websites, and we often feature recipes from other bloggers we visit often and highly recommend, but there’s something to be said for good old fashion books.
They are the ones you love, fall asleep with, romanticize with the beautiful photography that is now the norm in cookbook publishing. There are also the ones that have no pictures and are really the go to resource when big questions arise, like “from what part of the animal does THAT come from?”, “What the heck is that?”, “Do you suppose that is a spice or a cheese?”, “What pairs well with this ingredient?” You know what I mean.
And then there are the good old standbys. The standbys are the ones that feel like they were created just for you. The ones where the book seems to mold to your hand and the recipes always seem to work out. There’s always something you’re in the mood for or you always seem to have the ingredients in the fridge to make the dish. I believe these three categories are quintessential for all cooks and, though the internet is a great place to play, it will never replace a chefs library.
I think some of my picks might surprise you but there you have it. These are the ones I feel like I cannot live without and are the life blood of this blog. If they ever got lost or stolen, these would be the first ones to get replaced.
The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker
The Joy of Cooking is nothing new or sexy but an absolute quintessential must in every kitchen. Now it is not necessarily a whole food cookbook (all the cakes, cookies, muffins, etc. are made with types of refined sugar) but most of the recipes are made from scratch. Already that’s a big bonus, because if I want to make a bbq sauce from scratch, I know The Joy of Cooking will have something for me to work with. So not only are most things made from scratch, but there’s a section on canning, metric conversions, weights, temperature conversions from F to C., lists of possible substitutions and a section on growing your own culinary herbs. Never made a custard? Don’t worry, there’s a section (yes a whole section) on custards and about TEN recipes and versions. Want to know about where a cut of meat comes from? You’ll find diagrams and proper preparation for each cut. Do you need to know about seasoned butter and butter sauces? There’s TWENTY. This book is an 850 page reference for almost anything food related.
This is one of my newest additions and there’s no shortage of posts where I talk of my love of this book. Like The Joy of Cooking, this is one I could not live without. I have created some of my most delightful dishes since this book came into my possession. The ingredients, flavors and seasons are listed alphabetically. Under each category, there is a list of all the things that go best with that particular ingredient. Bolded type notes a strong affinity, and capitalized and bolded type notes classic and best flavor affinities. They even list things to avoid, what some of the best chefs around the world have paired with the ingredient, and common and most complimentary flavor affinities. This is almost 400 pages of food and flavor pairings. I use this book at least 4 times a week.
This makes the list because this is one of my husband’s favorite books and it gets him in the kitchen cooking. This makes it a priceless resource. I use it all the time too. There’s plenty of cool recipes you can do on the grill including pizza. But there’s everything in here from how to cook all types of meat, rubs, marinades, proper internal temperatures, grill temperatures, vegetables, seafood, salsas and even desserts. It even comes with handy little stickers to mark the pages of things you want to try or your favorites. But the part that wins me over in this book is that 90% of the bbq sauce recipes don’t include the use of ketchup! This makes me very happy!
I am so excited to include this as one of my resources. I am new to fermenting and this is fundamental in my learning, since I really don’t know what I’m doing, I rely on this book very heavily. It’s laid out like all the other “Complete Idiot’s Guide” books which means it’s very user friendly. Here you’ll find everything from natural sodas, sauces and dips, pickles, kvass, tempeh and even beer. The variety of potentially fermented foods feels endless as you flip through and pick out all the fun things to try. I’ll do a proper review on this book soon, but if you’re into traditional forms of cooking and understand the health benefits of eating fermented foods, you’ll want to add this to your list of “must have” books.
My Romance Cookbooks
It even looks romantic. doesn’t it? I love getting lost in this book. I don’t use it as often as some of my resources listed above, but this is a book I love. The photos are beautiful and if you put some French music on, it wouldn’t be very hard to whisk yourself away to a different country, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Now I know there’s nothing sexy sounding about cabbage soup or puree of spinach, but you won’t be thinking that when you’re looking through the beautiful photos that accompany the recipe. You’ll be thinking, “Oooh I can’t wait to try this.” There’s also plenty of recipes with names that I have NEVER heard off that intrigue and entice, such as Andouillette or Gratin Dauphinois, but it’s the classics that keep me coming back. Classics like Boeuf Bourguignon, Duck a L’Orange or Coq au Vin. The section on Pates and Terrines is so much fun but not to be outdone by the dessert section or bread section.
Who doesn’t want to cook in season? Though this is an Australian book (seasons are off from ours) it still stands as a great seasonal cookbook, loaded with originality and beautiful photos. Most of the recipes are simple and have a casual elegance about them. If I were to define the food of Donna Hay it would be that: casual elegance. One of the things I like best about the Australian cookbooks, is that for some reason the food just speaks to me, like the recipes were written just for me. I’d go more into the recipes but I’ve classified this under the romance category, so I want to focus on that. And since a picture says a 1000 words doesn’t the cover of this cookbook say it all.
I received this cookbook for Christmas one year by my sister-in-law and LOVE IT! The book was written by the Chef of Cafe Paridiso in Ireland. This restaurant is a favorite of my brother-in-law when he travels there, which is saying a lot, because he loves his meat. I mean really loves his meat. It would only take one recipe out of this cookbook to convince you that meat was not a necessary part of a meal. This is also a cookbook I refer to ALL of the time for some of the best vegetarian meals to ever grace our table. If you are a vegetarian who likes to enjoy gourmet fare (not vegan because many of the meals require dairy products), this is a must have in your library. This cookbook inspired such recipes as this.
Bills: Breakfast, Lunch + Dinner by Bill Granger
My sister and I each received a cookbook from my other sister for Christmas one year after her stint in Australia for 4 years. Bill Granger also has a casual elegance about his meals that I see in Donna Hay and wonder if it’s required if you want to be a chef in Australia or if it just comes so naturally to them. His meals are slightly more involved (just ever so slightly) and absolutely gorgeously presented. The reason I turn to Bill more often than Donna, is that even though his may require an extra step here and there, his meals never require tweaking or flavor adjustments. In this case it’s like every meal was designed for my mouth. The textures are perfect, nothing too salty or too sweet and the sauces are always the perfect combination of ingredients to enhance the other flavors. On the cover there’s a photo of one of the mains, Lemon Roasted Chicken with a Tomato Salad. Doesn’t it just scream the casual elegance and flavor combinations that just says that is a perfect meal (and no starches! Even better)?
Oh Molly. What can I say about Molly and one of her many cookbooks to really do it justice? She inspired me to visit vegetarian meals several times a week, which is something we still do a couple days a week. She was one of the few cookbooks I took with me to the fire tower years ago, when I chose to pack up only a car full of belongings to live in the bush (for pay) and be on the look out for forest fires. She taught my husband to make pita bread and and the most amazing carrot cake I’ve ever had to date. This is my Joy of Cooking for vegetarians. Not only are the recipes tried and true and very flavorful, they also seem to be seasoned according to my specific taste. There’s a helpful section on substitutions for dairy, eggs, etc. Now even if you don’t have allergies this is helpful. Imagine being out in the middle of nowhere and running out of milk or eggs and food is not being delivered for 2 weeks? Don’t worry, Molly has got you covered!
Whitewater is a Ski Hill in Nelson BC. Shelly and her husband bought it years ago. Shelly being a chef to the stars in Vancouver became the head chef of this intimate ski resort in the Kootenays. The food was so amazing (and still is) that people actually drive up to the top of the mountain to eat, even when they’re not skiing! True story. Her first cookbook of amazing recipes were all things she served at the ski hill. Though all the food is amazing and not anything like regular ski hill cuisine, it was this particular cookbook that I was most excited about. Her cornmeal crust is featured in several places on this website and works for sweet and savory alike. Here’s a taste of her creations: Beef Tenderloin with Cambozola Scones, Quinoa Salad with Saffron, Figs and Pistachios, Wine Poached Pear and Frangipane Tart (I’ve made this at least 6 times and it’s outstanding), or Mango Coconut Bread Pudding. I have never been disappointed with a recipe in any of her books. Something I can’t say about ANY other cookbook I own. That’s high praise if you ask me.
I was going to share my Sprouted Spelt Flour Tart with a honey Cream Filling and Oven Roasted Rhubard Jam to highlight how I brought some of my favorite resources together but I just realized how long this post was. I will save it for Friday.
Sorry if I babbled on. I just get so excited talking about my books I didn’t know where to stop…
What are some of the cookbooks or cooking resources you couldn’t live without?
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- 2. Introduce yourself, your blog, and what you’re about in the comment section and a small blurb about what you’re sharing. This way people can get to know you a little bit right off the hop and hopefully follow you as well.
- 3. Be sure to add a link in your post back to this post. Simple linky etiquette. This allows your readers to find other posts that may help them on their journey.
- 4. If you’re sharing recipes, the only requirement is that the ingredient list be comprised of real food only, that means non-processed food items. That being said, we are all in different places on our real food journey, some more advanced than others. I invite all of you to share, no matter where you are on your journey, but I ask you to stay mindful when sharing your recipes that this is a whole (real) food blog. This means, no ingredient lists that include edible oil products (velveeta, frozen whip topping), protein powders, ketchup, white flour or white and brown sugar.
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- 7. Please visit some of the links below. After all, that’s how we’ll get to know each other!
Now it’s your turn to share your whole food recipes and ideas!
I’m sharing this with Real Food 101, Mangia Monday, Monday Mania, My Meatless Monday, This Chick Cooks, Cast Party Wednesday, Allergy Free Wednesday, The Tasty Alternative, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday, Friday Food Flicks, Freaky Friday, Fight Back Friday, and Foodie Friday.