I like cooking and everyone who knows me, knows I like cooking. I also like recipe books; looking at the pictures, imagining making it, seeing all the variety. It’s gotten to the point that when I’m asked what I’d like for Christmas, I have to say ‘Not another cookbook’ because I like them too much. Doesn’t make sense, does it? You see, when I really like a cookbook, I want to go through it cover to cover and I want to make everything in it (or almost everything). That poses a problem when you’ve only got a certain amount of space, and books already take up a lot of that space. My love for cookbooks began when I went vegetarian in university and I needed help in 1) learning how to cook; and 2) getting flavour into my food. Here you’ll see some of those in my repertoire, those that I go to time and time again. They’re not perfect – I don’t believe there is a perfect cookbook out there – as everyone has their preferences. I recently picked up some gluten-free cookbooks that I’ve been trying out, but so far they’ve been hit and miss. So once I work through them some more, we’ll see if I have more successes and if they deserve to be posted here.
The Joy of Cooking
I grew up with this book; it was one of my mom’s favourites. For my mom, The Joy of Cooking was her go-to-cookbook. I picked it up when I moved to Ottawa for university so I could, hopefully, not starve. When the new revamped edition became available I picked it up immediately as it had been updated for today’s world (as opposed to my grandmother’s). At Christmas I picked up my sister’s (my old one was passed along to her) and I had trouble finding the information I needed – charts, health and ingredient information, my gluten-free dough recipe!. Newer editions are not always better, but in this case it was.
Moosewood Cookbook and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest
I’ve had these two cookbooks since going vegetarian, mainly because an old friend recommended them. She herself loved them, and I do too. There is a wide assortment of recipes and many of them have the option of being dairy or egg free. I’m happy to say that most of what I’ve made from these books has turned out; soups, entrees, sauces, desserts, etc. There have been a few that didn’t do it for me, either due to the texture or the taste. The book is also a joy to look through as Katzen did the artwork herself. There are a few small things I don’t like about the book. One is that the recipes can be daunting. Sometimes the ingredient list is long and one thinks about all the prep involved, or the steps involved in making the dish. My trick: simplify it. If you can, use a food processor or hand blender. Often, I also combine steps. So far this hasn’t failed me. Also, some of the recipes are large and even with leftovers, can be too much for one or two people. Those ones are saved for when dinner guests are expected and afterwards I decide if the recipe can be halved.
The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces
The majority of pasta sauces in my repertoire come from this book. I’ve had it forever and have always had success with it. I love pasta and as a result, wanted a variety of sauces so I wouldn’t get bored. The majority of the recipes are vegetarian, and contains everything from basil, to artichokes, to lemon, to pumpkin, to asparagus, to beans. You get the idea.