Friday, March 27, 2009

5 Desert Island Cookbooks

If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have 5 cookbooks what would they be? More realistically, if you were being forced to move and told to bring 5 cookbooks which ones would you grab?

OK, that's not more realistic, anyways . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . what are your top 5 favorite cookbooks?

With well over 50 cookbooks this was a difficult task--choose just 5? I love all my cook books equally, please do not let the others know I didn't choose them as part of my top five. (I hope they'll still open up to me.) Here's mine, the 5 cookbooks I use most and would take to an island, or take with me if I were forced to move or were kidnapped or threatened within an inch of my life or something like that:
  1. The All New Joy of Cooking, by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker, Scribner, New York, NY, 1997. The Joy of Cooking is hands down, without a doubt my number one favorite go-to recipe book. It is 1136 pages of recipe bliss with everything from making coffee and tea (which I have no idea how to make) to Oeufs A La Neige (again, no idea). In addition to recipes there are sections devoted to Diet, Lifestyle and Health, Entertaining and building Menus. At the end there are also sections devoted to in-depth instructions on cooking methods and Ingredient charts with serving sizes and nutrition guidelines for over 250 food items. But that is not why this is my favorite cookbook. What I love about this book is that it is comprehensive. By comprehensive I mean it has all the recipes I could ever want, detailed instructions, lots of variations and lots of background information on how to do it properly. I am by no means an excellent cook but with this cookbook by my side I can't go wrong!
  2. Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, 1993. This cookbook was my very first cookbook received as a wedding present. It is the red plaid binder cookbook you may have seen on your mothers or grandmothers kitchen shelf. It is a good basic recipe book with fairly easy recipes, an easy to read format and many special helps and tips throughout. My most worn section in the book is the bread section which contains my favorite recipes for biscuits, buttermilk pancakes, crepes and chocolate waffles. The margins are nice and big in this cookbook, plenty of room to write notes to self on variations and kid's/hubby's reactions to the recipes.
  3. Fleischmann's Bake-it-easy Yeast Book. I don't know the date this book was published but it was a LONG time ago, maybe in the early 50's, but it is still a kitchen essential today! This recipe book was a hand-me-down from a friend at the Washington State Extension office. She found out I was trying to make a good loaf and insisted I take her bread book--she had memorized the recipes already. As the name of the book implies this recipe book is dedicated to yummy yeasty goodness--bread. Cinnamon breads, Rye breads, Cheddar loafs, freezer rolls, buns, donuts, bagels, pull-aparts, striesel, braids, english muffins, ach, I'm running out of breath. This paperback has a detailed introduction to using yeast properly and a short troubleshooting guide in addition to the 112 yeast dough recipes. I would not be half the baker I am today without this book.
  4. Kerr home canning book, USA, 1941. The front cover of this book says "Price 10 cents"! That is too cool! I love this paperback/pamphlet cookbook because it is concise and jam packed (pun intended) with great recipes for your summer garden windfalls. It includes detailed instructions on open kettle, hot and cold pack methods of canning as well as pressure cooker, hot water bath, steam cooking and even oven canning methods. It includes points on selecting your products, reasons for spoilage, frequently asked questions, troubleshooting guides along with charts of proper times and temperatures to be a successful canner. And I haven't even mentioned the recipes yet. Whether you simply want to put up an abundance of cherries or you want to go all out and make pickles, conserves and homemade canned chili, this is the book for you. I can't do summer without it!
  5. Cookin' that's better than kissin' (almost), Carrie Clayton, Provo, UT, 1995. This is not a cookbook you will find on any shelf of any store, sorry. This recipe book was put together by a friend back in our BYU college days. My husband worked at the BYU pool as a lifeguard, teacher and coach. Over the course of the 9 months we were engaged most every other lifeguard on staff, who wasn't already married, also got engaged. Carrie set out to make a cookbook to use as wedding gifts for everyone and asked for everyone to contribute their family favorite recipes. So it includes some of my favorites, some of Dave's favorites and lots of other favorites from our lifeguard buddies. I use many of the recipes but the best part about this book is the memories of the fun times and fun people we hung out with back "in the good ole days".
Two honorable mentions:
at Well...Stay Well...Spend Less, Jil Abegg, CAM Publishing, Orem, UT, 1985.
The Freezer Cooking Manual from the 30 day Gourmet, Nanci Slagle, 30 day gourmet press, Brownsburg, Indiana, 2004.

I don't use many of the recipes from either of these books but I do use the ideas. The first one, Eat Well.... is a great book on stretching your food budget. She writes about shopping for low prices, stockpiling your food, must-have appliances, and lots of money saving ideas. The second one, The Freezer Cooking...., has lots of great tips, tricks and advice for building your own frozen dinner stockpile and is an excellent source for charts, graphs, lists, etc. She also has a companion website.

So there you have it, my desert island selections. What would you take?

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