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.

What I like is that every section has information so you know what you are dealing with. This is becoming very helpful right now as I’m learning what to do with meat. The instructions are well-written and don’t contain any fancy hard-to-follow language. The down-side is that the list of ingredients is not listed together at the top of the recipe. Some of the ingredients may be listed further into the recipe, so it is very important to read the recipe thoroughly beforehand. I know this is important with all recipes, but really, we don’t always do that, do we? Of all the recipes I’ve tried the only one I have problems with is for the pancakes, but the issue is with me and not the recipe.

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.


Cooking Vegetarian
This is the first book I bought when I went vegetarian and although I haven’t used the book in a while, some of the recipes are made all the time. The recipes are very healthy, even the desserts, and many can be converted into something gluten-free: instead of couscous use quinoa, use gf pasta instead of regular, gf soy sauce instead of regular, etc. Some recipes have to be avoided for me though, especially the ones with soy, and no other substitutions can be made. One of the things I liked when I first bought this bought was that there is information in the first two chapters about choosing healthier options and how to be a healthy vegetarian.

Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home
This is the only one I have from the Moosewood collection. These recipes are healthy and tasty. Most recipes are for 4-6 which makes it perfect for leftovers and they can easily be halved. Gluten-free substitutions can also easily be made, even with the chocolate cake. There are sections in the back that are especially helpful for a novice cook with an ingredient list describing them and hints on where to buy and how to use; tips on preparation and techniques; menu planning; quick recipes; nondairy and vegan choices; and help with quantities. 

Fields of Greens
I also got this cookbook shortly after going vegetarian and have made many things from it with success. The one I have now is my second copy, the first being ‘well loved’ by one of the cooks at a restaurant I once worked at during university. By boss felt bad and bought me a new one and kept old one. Like many cookbooks some of the recipes are quite large, too big for two people even with leftovers, so I often cut the recipes in half after making it once. Like Katzen’s books, the list of ingredients can be a little long so after reading it once or twice, I see where steps can be combined.