What is your favorite cookbook?

I am in the midst of shopping for my next favorite cookbook, and I’d love your help. What is your favorite cookbook? What do you like about it?

I’ll tell you mine first.

My current favorite is the Cooking Light Everyday Favorites cookbook. Some of you may remember when I bought the book last year. Our intentions were to buy a cookbook and make recipes together when I moved to North Carolina. We bought the book and began making anything that looked good, all the while documenting the date and our comments in the book.

I love the habit of writing in cookbooks. It is such a great reminder to me later how the meal was and what exactly I liked/disliked about the recipe. I used to not write in my cookbooks because I wanted to keep them in pristine condition—but that only translates to “not using at all,” and what’s the point of having a cookbook if you don’t use it? (I guess decoration. There are some beautiful cookbooks out there.)

Well, it’s been one year since we bought the book and we sure have made a significant dent in this cookbook. We have made over 20 recipes in the last year! (I suppose that is only a small dent considering there are 500 total, but for us 20 is a lot.)

I have a few other cookbooks, but this is the one that I refer to the most for new recipes. I like the pictures, the variety of menus, the nutrition facts at the bottom of each recipe, and the flavor of the meals. I’ll be sure to feature some of my favorites soon.

There have only been a handful of recipes we disliked and for some of them, I’m pretty sure it was my fault they turned out badly. (For example, it’s not the recipe’s fault that J disliked the sweet and sour chicken considering I overcooked it two hours longer than required. Oops.)However, my one BIG complaint about this cookbook is the binding. It is horrible! They should have made it a hardback, because it literally falls apart when I lift it.

Here are a few photos of the cookbooks and our comments in the last year:

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See what I mean? Terrible binding. It looks like we have literally beaten this book up and ripped it apart. No cool, Cooking Light.

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^Yeah, J did the dishes that night. :)

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So! I’m very curious:

What is your favorite cookbook? What cookbook of yours is torn apart with comments and has page stained with spaghetti splashes? What cookbook has given you the most beloved recipes?

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  • I love cookbooks! My favorite is a very early edition of the Fannie Farmer, Boston Cooking School-cook book. She was the first to introduce the measuring system we’re so familiar with in a cookbook. The book belonged to my great aunt and it’s so special. I don’t use it all that often, but it’s still my favorite.

  • An english copy of Larousse Gastronomique. It’s basically the encyclopedia of French cooking. I don’t very often use it for recipes though, I use it for understanding different vegetables and cuts of meat so I can come up with my own recipes.

    The one I wish I had was my mom’s grade 10 home economics cook book. That thing is our family’s baking bible! It’s oil and other ingredient stained like you wouldn’t believe. Both my sister and I have been writing recipes out of it for a while now, we both want it!

  • My two favorite actual books are an old version of The Joy of Cooking (it includes diagrams on how to clean and cook game, as well as a really handy one showing how meat should be cooked – with moist or dry heat – depending on what part of the body it came from) and Nourishing Traditions, which is way too out there for most folks, but works wonders for me. However, my favorite collection of recipes is an old wooden box filed with clippings and index cards in my grandmother’s careful hand. “Nanny’s Zucchini Bread” is still the best :)

  • One of my favorite books is by Anne Fadiman. It’s a small book of essays about reading called Ex Libris. In one of them she talks about people who don’t write in their books, fold the corners, etc. versus those who don’t. It’s taken me years to be okay with the fact that I write in fiction/non-fiction books. I’m not so sure I can do it for cookbooks, but it’s such a great idea!

  • I absolutely love cookbooks…they are a weakness of mine! I have a big shelf full of them.

    But my very, very favorite is probably Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers. Not all of the recipes appeal to me, but almost every one I’ve tried has just been delicious, and most of those have become mainstays around our house.

    I’m also very fond of the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. I’ve marked up SO many pages with writing, post-its, etc. after trying different recipes.