Yum! Four Cookbooks for the Lazy Cook
Me: “I’m going to make (insert new food item I have never made before here).”
My Spouse: “Sounds great. Do you have a recipe?”
This question that he asks me is not born out of any lack of experience from either of us. Many times have I started out with an idea, split pea soup for example, that turned out into something completely different and entirely inedible. The split pea soup I had planned turned into brown lentils, carrots, green peas, and a ton of cumin seeds. It doesn’t sound terrible, which is half the danger of making too many changes to a recipe, but let me assure you it was awful. He diligently ate his way through most of it, while I refused to touch the stuff. To save loving partners and friends everywhere from having to eat up the worst of our creations, I have highlighted some of my favorite cookbooks that we have at the library that can help you gain a solid foundation in cooking and recipe alteration.
The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg
This book was recommended to me by a dear friend who consults it when making things off the cuff. Out of a certain ingredient? Cooking with something new and wondering what the ingredient pairs well with? Look no further- An alphabetical guide, complete with pairings will
give you the inspiration you need!
Betty Crocker Cookbook, 12th Edition: Everything You Need to Know to Cook from Scratch by Betty Crocker
As a born and raised Minnesotan, I would be remiss to not include Betty on this list. Thought up by the precursor to the General Mills Company, this cookbook contains the best bare bones recipes for things like German Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Pudding Pie, Fried Rice, Fettuccine
Alfredo sauce, homemade pasta, pie crust, and so on. My favorite sweet cornbread, chocolate chip cookie, and banana bread recipe can all be found in this book. If your looking to make at home favorites with easy to find ingredients, this is the book for you!
Sweet Home Café Cookbook: A Celebration of African American Cooking by the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Sweet Home Café Over and over again, every time this book is checked out, patrons exclaim how wonderful this cookbook is. Featuring simple, affordable, classic cooking with the accompanying history of both dish and culture, this cookbook is a wonderful and much needed addition to any library’s shelf. Teacakes, Pickled Gulf Shrimp, Slow-Cooked Collards and Potlikker, Hoppin’ Jon, and Bourbon Pecan Pie, this cookbook cannot be recommended enough.
How to Cook Everything Series by Mark Bittman
I have friends that swear by the above series, but I’ll do a plug for the newest Bittman book: Dinner for Everyone: 100 Iconic Dishes Made 3 Ways–Easy, Vegan, or Perfect for Company. My spouse is in love with this cookbook. The easy recipes feature affordable, largely easy-to-find ingredients, and can be prepared on a busy work night. The weekend recipes are exactly what they sound like: more time, love, and energy goes into these recipes for a wonderful meal with those you care for most. Finally, I would be remiss to not include on of my favorite vegan chefs:
Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
Isa certainly has her critics, but she will always hold a special place in my heart. Along with Terry Hope Romero, Isa and Terry wrote Veganomicon , a painstaking vegan cookbook with recipes that used to take my spouse and I ALL EVENING. I learned a lot from those nights, and my favorite recipes from Veganomicon include the acorn squash and blackbean empanada filling (hint- skip the empanada dough and just eat the filling with rice or tortillas), the chickpea noodle soup, lentils and rice with caramelized onions, and jelly donut cupcakes. However, I was intrigued when Moskowitz came out with a solo quick and easy cookbook, and she did not disappoint. Isa Does It features friendlier recipes with ingredients that are featured at most grocery stores. You won’t find yourself cooking for hours, and the dishes are flavorful, nutritious, and appealing. In the wintertime, Sweet Potato and Red Curry Soup or Coconut Chana Saag will warm you up in no time. On a lovely summer’s day, the Dragon Noodle Salad or Tabbouleh of the Sea make a perfect dish for a picnic. For a quick and fancy bowl, try the Spinach and Black Bean Burrito Bowl. I’ve never known anyone to not like the Chai Spice Snickerdoodles (kid friendly recipe!) or Blueberry-Maple-Bran Muffins (I seriously make these muffins all the time).
Be sure to check out any of these cookbooks, and many more, at your local Granville County Library Branch. Don’t see a book you’re looking for at your branch? Speak to a staff member about getting your request delivered to your local branch. Remember, we are also a part of the Cardinal Consortium so we can also get you a book from any one of our member libraries!
I’ll see you soon!