Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cookbook Fetish

Some women like shoes, others like jewels, still others are obsessed with their gardens.  Me?  I love my cookbooks.  My collection is wide, growing and inclusive.  How to Cook Meat sits alongside Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone on my shelves, up and over from Cooking with the Dead (as in Grateful, not passed to the other side) and Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet (a tome on the various cooking styles of Southeast Asia).  My cookbook collection is probably more reflective of my life experience and personality than any other single entity in my life.  And like any good collector, I'm still hungry for more. Recently, I've come across some gems I'm scouting for my collection...
I've always loved Jamie Oliver: his accessible recipes, timely message about school lunches and the state of nutrition for our children, affable working-class Brit sensibility and adorable surfer-boy grin.  I own and love Happy Days with the Naked Chef, and now have my eyes on his latest cookbook  Jamie's Food Revolution, which I was able to thumb through on a recent visit to my sister's house. I am all about "simple, delicious, affordable meals" these days, and this was one of those books where I wanted to dog-ear almost every page.  Each recipe seemed to speak to me, a busy mom on a budget, but could easily speak to any recent college grad or simple home cook.  Jamie draws inspiration from all cultures to give recipes for everything from curries to roasts, and I want to try just about every one from this book.
I've mentioned my new favorite cooking blog, Dinner: A Love Story, here before, but I am so smitten with the blog and the book forthcoming from its author and her fellow former Cookie Magazine editors, that I must mention it again.  If Time for Dinner is even half as good as the blog, it will be your go to cookbook every night of the week.  Family dinner is what life is all about, and these ladies aim to make it happen every night, without a nervous breakdown on the way... picky eaters, packed schedules and impatient toddlers will not deter them. If you have a young family or are looking for a fun gift for a friend who does, I am not afraid to recommend this book without having seen it firsthand.  Anything touched by Cookie gets an automatic endorsement from me! 
Finally, over the weekend I was having a conversation with one of our great foodie friends about all the things we plan to cook this winter, and he reminded me about a book called All About Braising. Although it is not on my shelves, I've known about this book for awhile, as in a past life I waited tables at a restaurant where we did a book party with the author, and the whole to-die-for menu was right out of the book.  With our current lifestyle, braising suits us perfectly... I love the idea of sticking something in the oven on a Sunday morning, going out and playing in the snow and doing our thing all day, and returning to something tender, succulent, and incredibly low-maintenance for dinner, straight out of a long, slow braise in the oven.  It is so on.  
What's your favorite cookbook?


  1. I own two of Jamie's books as well - The Naked Chef and Jamie's Kitchen - love both of them. I definitely want to check out the Food Revolution cookbook. I recently saw a speech he did via TED (same site your referenced for Elizabeth Gilbert's speech), I was again amazed and consumed by his passion for a food revolution. You should check it out, I think you would enjoy watching it. As for my favorite, I would probably have to say Joy of Cooking...it has all the basics and if I'm searching for a recipe, I usually start there and then let my creative side take over.

  2. I love Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything" and "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" but I think "The Joy of Cooking" (gift from my mom at college graduation)is still my all-time fave.
    - Boss Lady A

  3. Okay. SMJ, I need some grocery shopping advice. Because I, too, LOVE cookbooks as well as recipes from magazines that I tear out daily and stash in a file folder on top of my microwave. But, most of the time those recipes NEVER have their day. Why? Because I don't have the ingredients already in my kitchen?
    How do you do it? Do you just go to the market, have a hankering for something special, and buy it knowing that you have a recipe at home requiring that ingredient? Because I don't do that.
    I usually go to the grocery story, grab the basics, and get home with what I always have every week, wishing I had the foresight to plan. I am not, shall we say, as organized as our friend Sara Sully Goody, who plans her meals weekly.
    Help! Help me be creative and use those recipes I've been dying to try, but also be able to make it through my weekly grocery shopping without too much planning!

  4. A + A - so with you on "The Joy". It is actually referred to as "The Bible" here at Casa SMJ.

    Kel - that sounds like a blog post unto itself! Thank you for the idea and stay tuned!

  5. Have you seen Jamie's Italy? Fabulous, it is worth buying for the pictures alone, but the recipes are scrumptious as well! Of course, we love "the bible" here too! You should come to my little farm and get some of our fresh tomatoes to roast! :)