Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Favorite Cookbooks and Recipe Organization

There are so many good cookbooks in the world, but here are some of my favorites:

I have three of Nigella Lawson's cookbooks, and I love all the recipes I've tried (although in the interest of full disclosure, she is a waaaaay more adventurous eater than I am).  This is a basics kind of cookbook that teaches you to do things like roast a turkey or chicken, make a cake from scratch, cook when you are trying to lose weight, etc.  Even more than the food, however, I love her writing.  This is the kind of cookbook you like to read just for the sake of reading.  I read it to get into the mood to cook and think about food (sometimes I am just not feeling the excitement when it comes to planning another week's meals and going grocery shopping).  She is intelligent and witty and assumes that you are an intelligent cook (while still giving great directions).  And I like it that she is a beautiful woman who looks like she actually likes to eat rather than gingerly and self-consciously nibbling a small bite of something and proclaiming "Delicious" (cough: Martha).  My best friend, Brynn, does a hilarious impression of Martha tasting food.  I miss you, Brynn!

I'm planning on buying Nigella's newest (or maybe asking for it for my birthday? Valentine's Day?):  
 Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home                                                        
 I can't wait!
My next favorite is Molly Katzen's "Moosewood Cookbook".  I used to make things from this when I was just starting to really cook when I was a teenager, and nostalgia is one reason I keep cooking from it.  It is a vegetarian cookbook, and the food is very good and flavorful--and her desserts are wonderful.  The font is all hand-written, with some of the directions illustrated with her own drawings, which makes it feel really personal, like you are cooking from a recipe a friend wrote out for you.

For my third favorite, I'll give you a hint:

Yep, it's the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.  I refer to it all the time for basics like biscuits.  Plus, no matter how evocative it is of cheap Italian restaurants, I just love red gingham.  Sigh.

My fourth and last favorite is actually not a published cookbook, but rather a way of organizing recipes that makes my life better.  I cook from this more than any other single cookbook.

I started putting my recipes in plastic sheet protectors in a binder almost 10 years ago, and it is such a great system.  I now have three of these binders, and it makes it so easy to add a recipe or find one that I've clipped.  My newest folder is much cuter and has dividers to section things out into different types of food (salad, soup, main dishes, desserts, etc.), but my older ones are just in an order that makes sense to me.  I can easily flip through and find what I want.  Here are some pics of what I mean:

 This one has randomly clipped recipes that I taped or glued onto regular paper, then slipped into the sleeves.

 This is an example of whole pages from magazines that I've put into page protectors.

It is good to select a binder that has pockets so you can have a place to store recipes that are waiting to be slipped into page protectors, as in above. Ideally, you just have empty page protectors in your binder ready to go.  Long story short, my binder is an English A4 size from when we were living in London, so I can't get page protectors for it here.  I need to shuffle around my recipes and put some in a normal binder that uses normal page protectors.  I will add this to my endless list of needed yet not crucial projects and will probably get to it when Lucy starts college soon.

Anyway, not rocket science I know :), but this sure makes my life easier!

I am linking up to Works for me Wednesday over at We are that Family.

1 comment:

  1. I love me a good cookbook!! For my birthday this year, my sister gave me the one I had been pining after for some time... Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc. It actually explains cooking and has simple tried and true recipes! You've inspired me to go thru my collection again :)


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