Despite the disproportionate number of recipe blogs that pop up in my search suggestions, I’m still a fan of the traditional cookbook. In fact, I have about thirty or so lining a couple of bookshelves in my kitchen.
Yes, I have a bookcase in my kitchen. And in my living room. And bedroom. And home office. Don’t judge me.
There’s something to be said for the good ol’ cookbook. It may not be as convenient as a quick online search, but the recipes tend to be reliably good and, to me, holding a cookbook, leafing through the pages, seeing the stains from past meal preps, well, it’s comforting.
So I’m going to share a few of my favorite cookbooks, the ones that helped to build my confidence in the kitchen, taught me best practices, and that I return to time and time again.
The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. I think this was the first cookbook I bought for myself when I struck out on my own, living in a little one-room efficiency apartment. I have the paperback edition, which can also double as a doorstop. There’s a great opening section that covers all the kitchen basics, from chopping techniques to staples to have on hand. The recipes – hundreds of them – are easy to follow and there’s something for everyone’s taste. My copy is stained, worn, wrinkled, and still my favorite.
Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book. This is one I bought not long after I married my partner. While not as in-depth as the Fannie Farmer Cookbook and with fewer recipes, it’s still a great collection of easy-to-follow recipes and it has a decent variety. Another good starter cookbook.
How to Cook Everything. Mark Bittman knows cooking and in this massive volume he shares his knowledge. There are literally 2,000 recipes in this book, along with detailed instructions for how to cut and chop, steam and fry, and all the other skills needed in the kitchen. Plus, he provides context on why he chose recipes a specific way. While it can be a bit overwhelming and the recipes are a bit more advanced than the other two cookbooks, it’s still a must-have.
These are the three main ones use on a regular basis. I have my favorite recipes bookmarked, but I also occasionally flip through them to see what catches my eye. While it’s great to have a routine of regular recipes, I like to branch out every so often and find something new to try.
I’ll post a follow-up on some other cookbooks I’ve used over the years. I hope you check these out, maybe find a few new recipes to try, and explore your creativity in the kitchen.