cookbook of the week: reference books

19 Nov

This week, I’d like to spend some time talking about reference cookbooks.  Those cookbooks that you find yourself turning to more for how-to’s, definitions and descriptions. There are three of these books in our house that we go to on a regular basis.

First off, there is good ol’ Betty. She really can do no wrong. I turn to Betty for the basics. For example, when I decided to make my first pie, Betty was there. In fact her French Apple version is the best pie I’ve ever made.  Betty also has cooking charts for pretty much any type of vegetable. So, if you have a butternut squash, she’ll tell you how long it takes to microwave, steam, bake, roast, and grill.  She’s genius like that.  Plus, if you’re craving things that feel like something your mom would make or something homey, Betty’s your gal.

Reference book #2 is the Joy of Cooking. Brette LOVES this book. I find it a little  encyclopedic for my taste, but it does have some great information in it. Because this is more Brette’s go-to book, I’ve invited him to share his own opinion.

BRETTE SAYS: I like it because it’s like an encyclopedia. It rarely fails me when I don’t know what an ingredient is (sometimes I need clues if Jen isn’t around) or I’m just looking for a background narrative.  I also like that it always seems to have a recipe or two for any random ingredient.  It is very information dense.  The two recipes I use most are the belgian waffles and the dry rub for my ribs.

Reference book #3 is Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. I am not a vegetarian, but this has been a fabulous resource. We do try to have a few meat-free meals during the week and Deborah always has good ideas. I go to it for new ways to cook a vegetable or what do with a mass amount of quinoa in my pantry or how to make tofu taste good. She also has information on how to do things like properly cook and store beans, how to make 12 different types of stock, and a complete glossary of greens.

What about you? Are there cookbooks that have been your best resource just for pratical cooking know-how? What is on your resource list?


4 Responses to “cookbook of the week: reference books”

  1. Fav Sista November 20, 2009 at 11:24 am #

    I am a Betty fan – my cookbook was a wedding gift and it looks 22 years old! It has sticky pages and is very well used. I also use my weight watchers cookbooks although I have to say I like the on-line options as there are usually more pictures. That is the one thing I love t have in cookbooks – pictures and the WW ones don’t have as many as I would like. I also have some tried and true recipes for the good old SSPP church cookbook that mom gave me years ago. Has some of the best quick bread recipes ever! It also has guidelines for potluck fare, how to cook for a crowd, measurements, etc…. It’s a keeper!

  2. Liza November 20, 2009 at 3:36 pm #

    Two regular references here:
    Better Homes and Gardens and Martha Stewart’s Baking handbook. We use both of them often and you can tell by the frequently worn pages.

  3. Jackson November 20, 2009 at 9:23 pm #

    For me it is also Better Homes and Gardens. I also go to my 2 Byerly’s cookbooks. Those are the ones that first come to mind though I have several other cookbooks I go to depending on what I’m up to. I did have “The Joy of Cooking” but it was way to encyclopedic for me and I got rid of it.


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