My mom never uses recipes, and I seldom do, either, but I read cookbooks like they’re romance novels, and I get a lot of my ideas from them. Below are some books I have enjoyed reading, and I’ve actually gotten around to cooking some recipes from each of them. There aren’t a lot of books on this page, because I will only recommend the ones I really like. The links are to Powell’s, but feel free to buy them where you want; I recommend looking up your local independent bookseller on IndieBound if you’re in the US or Canada.

If you buy from our Powell’s links, 100% of any money I receive will be passed on to the Alameda County Community Food Bank.  My mom has always been all about feeding people who didn’t have enough to eat; I think she would approve.

(Note: I do accept review copies, but I don’t promise to promote your book here, and in fact will not mention it unless I love it.)

Vegan with a Vengeance, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz: Even if you’re not a vegetarian (I’m not), the recipe for Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy alone is worth the price of this book. Plus, Isa is a funny writer, so the book is a kick to read. Check it out if you’re at all interested in trying some vegan food that doesn’t taste like ass. The Better Homes and Gardens (New) Cookbook: I’ve had several editions of this book; I prefer the ones from way back in the ’70s, but this is a good, solid thing to have around the house, no matter which edition you choose. If nothing else, it will tell you some basic stuff that you don’t necessarily have on the tip of your tongue: How long to cook a potato, for instance, or what temperature the inside of a rare roast beef is. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child: I just got this recently, and it’s such a delight that I’m reading it cover to cover. The first thing I made from the book (the veloute) was roundly praised in my family, and it was SO easy!
How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman: I plan to make really extensive use of this book. It was a gift, and I’m really excited about trying it out. See more about why I love Mark Bittman. Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan: See all the gorgeous recipes we’re cooking for “French Fridays with Dorie“. It’s a large and beautiful volume, with lovely text and gorgeous photos.
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