My Favorite Cookbooks

I love to cook. The only caveat is the clean up required afterwards. This is why my favorite time to cook in on Wednesdays, my day off, at my mom’s house, where she cleans up after me. On these days, we try new recipes or play with fun kitchen accessories, like our new Kitchenaid pasta maker attachments. But most of my go-to and most favorite recipes come from these three cookbooks.

The Joy of Cooking

joy of cooking

This was by far the best wedding gift Mister BS and I received, and it has been much loved. Not only is it comprehensive, the instructions are clear and easy to follow and it teaches you techniques instead of just listing them. I love those fancy photo spreads of delectable looking meals, but this book is much more practical and useful even if it doesn’t have pretty pictures. It is a great jumping off point to begin variations on your own recipes. For instance, I’ve developed my favorite versions of many different types of scones, but I always start with the base I learned from Joy. This classic is a must for any serious cook.

The Moosewood Cookbook

the moosewood cookbook

The Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca,  New York revolutionized American dining with its focus on healthy meals made with local ingredients. I received this as a gift, and I’ve made more recipes out of it than any other cookbook I’ve ever owned. It’s full of healthy, wholesome, and mostly vegetarian recipes. Like The Joy of Cooking, it provides a lot of basic recipes that are the building blocks of dishes. The sauces and dressings are wonderful! Trust me, you’ll never buy processed, bottled dressings again after seeing how much easier and tastier these versions are. The soups are fantastic. Most recipes also over a few variations or suggestions for substitutions on ingredients. It’s also hand written with little doodles, giving it a fun, whimsical feel. I own several other cookbooks by Mollie Katzen, but this on is my favorite.

Betty Crocker’s Cookbook

betty crocker cookbook

I know, it seems weird for a vegetarian who enjoys cuisine with global influences to name this is a favorite, but this is what I grew up on. Though I won’t eat any of the meat dishes, the salads, sides, and especially the baking recipes are my standards. My mom recently found a copy in the downtown antique store (and an old granny square afghan!) so now I have a copy of the cookbook she’s owned since the 70s. This copy even has the banana cake recipe that was my dad’s favorite, the page that mysteriously disappeared out of my mom’s version. It also has the recipe for carrot cookies, a favorite among all Wettas that I’ve never seen any other family make (I’ve even adapted a gluten free version for my Celiac cousins). Of course, since this one was owned by another family, you can tell that they had different favorite recipes that were staples in their family, judging by the splattered papers and broken bindings that open to certain pages automatically. Cookbooks are strangely revealing artifacts, aren’t they? I own a couple other Betty Crocker cookbooks, but this one is the classic version that reads like a scrapbook from my childhood family dinners.

I love to cook and experiment with different recipes (my best friend and I keep a recipe journal here) and my Pinterest boards are full of recipes to try from various food blogs, but these are the three cookbooks that get the most use in my kitchen.

What’s your favorite cookbook?

5 thoughts on “My Favorite Cookbooks

  1. How funny! These would be my top three cook books as well. I would add to that perhaps Food To Live By from Earthbound Gardens.

    I saw your name on the Infinite Jest Read-along list and thought I would come and introduce myself. My name is Michelle and I blog at http;// I look forward to reading with you! :)

  2. Wow, that gourmet seems like a good place to start~ I just got a pasta maker so I will definitely be on the look out for a Marcella Hazan! Thanks for the suggestions.
    I know what you mean about mastering cooking/dream kitchen and not having anyone to enjoy it. My mom lives alone now, and loves to cook…meaty dishes I can’t eat. Mister BS takes advantage and get dinner with her on evenings I work. So at least she has him to cook for. She can’t figure out how to fix just little meals for herself. She wants to cook huge pots of stew and a whole chicken, and she barely eats!

  3. Oddly my first cookbooks was the giant two volume Gourmet Cookbook with luscious color plates printed in Italy. These were a gift from my father, the cook in my family. Under his tutelage I was never permitted to dislike a food. “If it is eaten and enjoyed anywhere in the world you can develop a taste for it.”
    I took Gourmet with me when I married and I was lucky to have a neighbor well versed in the old fashioned basics – she taught me how to can, make bread, and mayonnaise. Her favorite was the Joy of Cooking, which I acquired next. Invaluable equivalency tables in the center pages.
    Over the years I learned southwest cooking from New Mexican and Texan friends and picked up Diana Kennedy’s Mexican cookbooks. Just the best.
    I’ve always loved Italian and have found Marcella Hazan to be the best source for authentic pastas.
    Another friend went on a Middle Eastern kick and got me hooked on Claudia Roden.
    Then the Time life cook books came out with the yummy full color spreads – the books were uneven but the one one Indian Cooking was excellent and I use it to this day.
    The bittersweet moral to the story is by the time you really have your cooking chops and have put together the kitchen of your dreams the kids have grown and moved out and you and you husband don’t eat that much anymore.

  4. Ah! I love that Betty Crocker cookbook. You are very right about the carrot cookies. Our family get togethers are the only ones where I’ve seen them made! I’ll have to see if I can track down a copy of the other two!

    1. I think Grandma like gave out those cook books or something. When mom found me a copy, I immediately wanted to make those cookies! Mister BS doesn’t like them so they’d all be for me :)

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