October 06, 2011

Juli's Most-Used/ Favorite Cookbooks

Yesterday Jeffrey gave you his top picks for favorite cookbooks, so I decided that today was my turn.  You'll notice that there is zero overlap!  Jeffrey admires the Cook's Illustrated cookbooks, while I find their recipes impossibly long and tedious, and full of what I think are questionable techniques (the pie crust recipe they dote on is horribly difficult to make, for instance, and doesn't taste nearly as good as my Dad's plain-jane recipe).  I guess my main complaint with the recipes is that they tend not to use any cooking shortcuts at all, and take far longer to prepare than I would like.  I also am by and large unacquainted with Indian cooking, which Jeffrey has included in his cookbook picks.  I love Indian food, I just haven't done any of the actual cooking.

Sometimes I like to read cookbooks for fun.  One I'm enjoying currently is Jessica Harper's The Crabby Cook Cookbook:  Recipes and Rants. I've also enjoyed the Mennonite More-with-Less cookbook and the Sondheim/Sloan collaboration  A Dinner a Day, although some of the last cookbook's recipes are really terrible.  But for menu-planning ideas, it's a great book!

Anyway!  Here are my favorite cookbooks:

Betty Crocker's Cooky Book was published in 1963, and is one of the few cookbooks I remember from my childhood.  I loved paging through and looking at the color pictures and illustrations, and reading the "flavor text".  For example, the cookie called Joe Froggers starts off with this:  "Our adaptation of the famous molasses cookies made long ago by old Uncle Joe of Marblehead, Mass.  The cookies are as plump and dark as the little frogs that lived in the pond near Joe's cottage".  These texts made cooking seem like a fun activity, and encouraged me to experiment with baking.

When I was a high school student, in the summertime my sister and I took turns doing a lot of the household chores, since by then Mom had taken a job outside the home.  It was fun to do the menu planning and shopping, and having control over what we all ate for dinner!Pillsbury's Bake Off Main Dish Cook Book (published in 1968) was one of my go-to books.  Cece and I tried quite a few of the casserole recipes during those years.  Recipes we especially enjoyed included Hungy Boys' Casserole, Beef Burger Bar-B-Que, and Chicken Almond Party Bake.

This is a church cookbook put together by the Catholic Ladies Union in Cherokee, Iowa in 1982.  This book is filled with plain, filling, delicious home cooking, and doesn't rely on a lot of expensive convenience foods or unusual ingredients.  I'd be very surprised is there is a single recipe here that takes longer than an hour, start to finish.

This cookbook is a sentimental favorite, being a collection of computer-typed pages that my Grandma gathered from lots of my relatives.  She enjoyed typing on the computer and putting in the pictures and recipe categories.  Recipes include her own prize-winning Deluxe Potato Soup and Dad's Italian Vegetable Supper Soup, which are both really outstanding!  If you don't have a collection of recipe gems from the cooks in your family, you should!

The last cookbook is simply a 3-ring binder of the best recipes that Jeffrey and I have created.  The recipes are all ones we rate at 5 stars (totally trough-worthy).  I make an extra set of these recipes for my son to have and present them to him at Christmas time- his binder is a bright spring green.  I put each full-page typed recipe in a plastic sleeve, so hopefully the books will stay nice for a really long time.

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