I love this cookbook. It's a gardener's cookbook. Unlike most cookbooks, which are organized according to types of dishes (entrées, desserts, soups, salads, etc.), it's organized by garden produce: asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, ..... summer squash, sweet potatoes, turnips & rutabagas, and winter squash.
The full title is The Practical Produce Cookbook: How to Plant, Pick, Prepare, and Preserve Produce. With all that information plus recipes, the book is a handy resource. Planting, growing, and harvesting particulars are included for each vegetable, plus lots of recipes and we've liked every one I've tried so far. In addition to vegetables, are a few garden fruits: ground cherries, melons, rhubarb, and strawberries. The last two chapters are vegetable and fruit canning and freezing guides. To see sample pages and recipes, click on this link, which will take you to the publishers website.
With a fall garden still full of vegetables, this is already becoming one of the first cookbooks I reach for. It's taking its place of honor right next to my other two trusty favorites, The Joy of Cooking, and the all-American standby, Betty Crocker (1969 edition, now badly stained, coverless, and with the index torn to shreds. It was a gift from my grandmother.) It's funny, because my cooking practices and techniques have changed so drastically, that I no longer actually follow the recipes in those two books to the letter. I substitute many ingredients, like the types of flours, fats, and sweeteners I use. I adjust the amounts. I soak my grains or substitute sourdough starter. I've learned to adapt them to how I cook. Even so, I just like those cookbooks.
Nourishing Traditions probably had the most profound impact on how I cook and how we eat. I use it as an information resource, but to be honest, I haven't liked any of the recipes I've tried from it so far. I've just learned to apply the methods to recipes I do like.
A few other cookbooks that I grab on occasion are my Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook (not so new anymore however), More-with-Less Cookbook (how to reduce food costs and resources by simplifying meals), The Amish Cookbook (purchased at Shady Maple Restaurant Gift Shop on our trip to Pennsylvania last year. It was the canning recipes that interested me, particularly for bologna.) Also Cooking With Wisdom , and a church fundraiser cookbook called Cooking With Love. All of these have recipes I like.
A lot of cookbooks have come and gone from my kitchen, but some I keep around (though use less often) are The Little House Cookbook, Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery and Booke of Sweetmeats (purchased during a homeschool field trip to Mt. Vernon. A very interesting read, not only for the transcriber's tidbits on historical cooking and recipes, but also for the pre-modern convenience techniques), Woodstove Cookery (a book I've toted around since my wood cookstove days), and The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book aka Fanny Farmer Cookbook. I believe mine is a third edition, published in 1918, but I can't be sure because someone pasted an "outline of can sizes and their contents" clipped from an old newspaper over the copyright information. It was my grandmother's cookbook, and she had two copies, so she gave me this one. It's rather fragile, so I keep it where it won't get messed up. I did find two public domain online versions of this cookbook:
- The 1896 first edition at The Historic American Cookbook Project
- The 1918 third edition at Bartleby.com
Some that I rarely even think to look in are a Time-Life book, Vegetables (The Good Cook Techniques & Recipes Series) (25¢ at a yard sale, currently selling for 1¢ on Amazon.com. Do you think I overpaid?) and Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery (left in this house.) That last set is 12 volumes, and so far not very helpful (the sautéd cucumber recipe for example, was yuk. I keep it around because, well, an encyclopedia ought to be useful, right?)
I have a few specialized cookbooks, such as Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning, Wild Fermentation, and The Red Star Centennial Bread Sampler. Then of course there are recipes in books like Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Small-Scale Grain Raising, or recently purchased How to Store Your Garden Produce. Unless I know of a specific recipe in one of these however, they aren't the kinds of books I go recipe hunting in.
That about covers my cookbook collection. What about you? What cookbooks do you like? Which ones do you reach for when you need an idea or some inspiration? You can either tell me in the comments or blog about it, come back, and leave a link for us cookbook collectors. I'm always interested in a good recommendation.
My New Favorite Cookbook © November 2010