Monday, June 22, 2009

Favourite Cookbooks? (Bonus book to download!)

The Real Life Home has a post about her favourite cookbooks--why she likes them, favourite recipes. Want to join in?

Mostly I use my binder of recipes that I've printed out. So I could say that my favourite cookbooks include the Internet, Canadian Living, magazine ads, and my grandmother's recipe box.

My favourite cookbooks years ago were mostly vegetarian cookbooks, and I had a lot of them, especially before we went online. Most of them I've given away since then, especially the soy-based books, because a couple of the Treehouse people have discovered that tofu and TVP don't agree with them--I haven't even made our favourite Chocolate Pie in a long time, for that reason.

One I still use, or at least go to for ideas, is Nikki & David Goldbeck's American Wholefoods Cuisine: Over 1300 Meatless, Wholesome Recipes from Short Order to Gourmet. What I like: international menu ideas and the menu suggestions after a lot of the recipes; the "Food Factory" section (a lot of basic instructions for cooking beans, freezing things and so on), stock-less soup recipes, sauces and dips. Where we differ: their baking is almost always sweetened with honey, which is fine for some people but I still use sugar. Anything we don't like: I like their molasses-cranberry baked pudding fine, but it's a bit intense for my kids.

Another book that's gotten pretty worn is Whole Foods for the Whole Family, a La Leche League International Cookbook. Its 1981 date means that it's very big on cutting out sugar, less concerned about fat. Very family-friendly and with a view towards economy (recipes contributed by a wide variety of LLLl members). Things I've never made and don't plan to: the liver recipes (the Squirrels are not big on organ meats), and some of the regional things like Goetta (sounds like Scrapple) and White Boudin. Things I like: lots of "optionals" and choices, like baking recipes that use sugar or honey, butter or oil.

A very small book that I got when we were first married and still use sometimes: Eating Better...A Basic Shelf Cookbook. This is an early edition of the book still sold by the City of York Health Unit. [Hmm, I followed the links there and it doesn't seem to be available now. But here's a PDF of a similar book published by the Porcupine Health Unit.] Check out the no-salt seasoning blends!] Very economical and based mostly on real-life-keep-in-your-pantry items. (Does anyone else get annoyed by cookbooks that assume you have capers in the pantry?) Things I don't like: bland recipes made with hamburger (I think they improved them in later editions), and a terrible recipe for oatmeal cookies. Recipes I still like: stovetop rice pudding made with powdered milk, pudding mix made with powdered milk, bean salad.

There, that's three: we also use two volumes of the Harrowsmith Cookbook, all three Food That Really Schmecks cookbooks, the Beany Malone Cookbook, and Betty Crocker's Cookbook (because I can never remember how much sweetening to put in the whipped cream; I also like the meatloaf and brownie recipes). A few months ago I was also drawing heavily on some low-sodium cookbooks from the library, but we haven't had those out for awhile; they're a good source of no-salt seasoning mixes and other general ideas.


Barbara Frank said...

My Betty Crocker cookbook is now 30years old (!)On the back, there is a set of black rings around Betty's face from when I accidentally left a burner on and set the cookbook down for a moment. My fave recipe in there is the oil pie crust recipe. Use it all the time!

Mama Squirrel said...

Our Betty Crocker book is from the '80's too.

Anonymous said...

I also use Whole Foods for the Whole Family quite a bit, though my binding completely disintegrated, so that is a hassle. I agree with the bonus of the generous lists of substitutions for many recipes. Very handy.

I also like the Schmecks cookbooks, though I don't own them. My mom has a couple and they are terrific.