In the process of reorganizing my kitchen, I took the time to go through all of my cookbooks and cooking magazines. I have quite a few but only found myself able to part with a handful. It seems I have a deep appreciation for the heart and soul that goes into a good cookbook (the magazines were easier).
We aren’t just talking about some rinky-dink collection of recipes that a big distributor put out, the cookbooks I love are written by real people, with real stories. There are faces on the covers and inside panels. There are hands, gardens, kids and animals in the pictures. And the pictures themselves, oh, they are always so swoonworthy.
I have dreams to write my own cookbook one day (doesn’t every food blogger?). I’m sure I’ll do it, even if it’s just a little thing I can hand off to my kids when they get ready to leave home. I’ve already got a great start with the over 300 recipes I have published on this blog.
The thing with recipes, especially when collected with love and care is that they tell a story. They are the story of a people, a culture, and a way of life that’s been passed down. It’s not just the meal they ate at any given time, it’s where the food came from, the daily lives that it had to sustain, and the work that went into it. I’m a firm believer that you can tell more about a person’s culture by the food they ate than any other customs they might have.
I’m getting off topic here, I really just wanted to tell you about my favorite cookbooks right now. Some of these have been standby’s for years, others are fresh new wonders just added to my collection, and one is my own collection of scraps from mom’s, grandparents, aunts, stuffed with magazine clippings of interest.
Mimi Thorrison – I love this book for the unique recipes in addition to the photos. You just don’t run across these kinds of unique dishes and simple entertaining style. (Favorite Recipes: Crab Rolls, Tomato Tart, Garlic Soup, etc.)
The Yellow Table – I have always loved Anna’s blog and her straightforward healthy cooking. I even helped with the recipe testing for this book so of course I have a copy, and still use it regularly. (Favorites Recipes: Bacon Wrapped Dates, Apricot Dijon Chicken, etc.)
Betty Crocker – This is my standard go-to for baking basics, and cook times. I usually start here and extrapolate my own recipes. (all the baking recipes and Chucks Venison Meatloaf is based on this one)
Ina Garten’s Fool Proof – someday I’ll probably have Ina’s complete collection. She’s an inspiration for simple elegance and New England Style, what’s not to love? (Lobster Mac & Cheese, Parmesan Cheese Straws, etc.)
Family Table by Shaye Elliot– Being totally honest here… I love this book for the story and the photos. The recipes are great too, but I don’t exactly have my own bacon cuts to cure yet so I haven’t gotten the chance to test many of these out yet, and most of the others I already have my own versions of. (Homemade pasta?, ??)
Homestead Kitchen – This is another one that I love for the photos and the story, however there are quite a few awesome recipes. I just got it so I haven’t had the opportunity to test them all yet, but I’m totally excited to try out the Onion Marmalade, and berry Mead recipes. Look for recipe sharing to come.
Buck Buck Moose & Duck Duck Goose – I’m grouping these together because I love them both equally and they are by the same author (what you couldn’t have guessed?). Hank Shaw is an amazing chef and writer, I am constantly in awe of his work and truly believe his work has been one of the biggest influences on my own. (Duck Ragu, Cumberland Sauce, Swedish Meatballs, Grilled Venison Tacos, Wing Soup etc.)