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?