Your favorite cookbooks and/or history of food books?

Reply Wed 17 Aug, 2016 07:18 am
Stumbled onto this unusual cookbook this week. Got me thinking of my favorite cookbooks. Owned very few myself. Never really cooked out of them.

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen
by Lucy Knisley
Relish: The Graphic Novel For Foodies

While, I'm wracking my pathetic brain in trying to remember a particular autographed bakery cookbook from a wildly famous pastry icon from the 1980s and 1990s that I got from a PBS/WGBH fundraiser in the mid1990s, I'll post this thread.
Reply Wed 17 Aug, 2016 07:55 am
I've owned many cookbooks, new or used, and have culled them over time, giving some to my neighbor, some to Goodwill. Now I'm down to 62, in the hall closet/kitchen. I'll be back.
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Reply Thu 18 Aug, 2016 11:57 am
I love the "America's Test Kitchen" magazine style cookbooks.

I read them like novels. My family makes fun of me.

My most used cookbook is Julia Child's "The Way To Cook".
Reply Thu 18 Aug, 2016 12:17 pm
For some slightly manic reason, I (off and on) was a subscriber to Cooks Illustrated magazine, a publication by the same people who worked on America's Test Kitchen.

I finally changed the account of the subscription to my mother (and resubscribe this year for her to enjoy).
Reply Thu 18 Aug, 2016 12:20 pm
Your mother is a lucky woman.

Those are great cookmags!
Reply Thu 18 Aug, 2016 12:53 pm
I like Cook's Illustrated mag too. I think I didn't subscribe but only bought it in a bookstore from time to time. Just now, in reaching for it across the shelf between the old cabinets and the old hutch, I managed to pull the useful but somewhat flimsy plastic long and narrow shelf above the wood one out of the wall. Well, not fully, but now I have sure to nail it back the right way. If I remember, the holes for nails in the plastic shelf didn't match all three of the posts in the wall, so where I pulled it must have been just drywall. Whine... this will involve rearranging of supply baskets and waste baskets and brooms, and so on, to get to the wall.. to use my stud detector.

Anyway, I see it is from April 2005; it was tucked behind about six years worth of New Yorker Food issues, which they put out once a year. No doubt time for me to toss, but I'm such a sentimental fool.
Reply Thu 18 Aug, 2016 01:12 pm
Nothing wrong with sentiment, if you have the space!

Good luck on the shelf fix. I hate it when stuff like that happens.
Reply Thu 18 Aug, 2016 02:00 pm
for the writing

always Laurie Colwin

MFK Fisher

for the funny writing, photos and very good recipes


I think this is my favourite for the recipes alone


I subscribe to Ricardo and learn something in every issue.


It's replaced all the other magazines in my affections. I've never ever had a misfire with any of his recipes. I cooked my way through


as a project with the Fine Cooking website folks one year. Someone else did the desserts for me and I did the veggies from their cookbook.

Reply Thu 18 Aug, 2016 02:47 pm
Since I've taken those books off the flimsy shelf (it's not that bad, just holding light books for show and my pleasure, been there for years now), I'll name them first and avoid shelf fixing for a bit.

I'll start with a favorite, Beard on Pasta, by James Beard, 1983, jacket and text illustrations by Karl W. Stuecklen. Alfred A. Knopf. Lovely book, lovely drawings. Bought it used, and used it

Italy, The Vegetarian Table, by Julia della Croce; several credits for photography and for food styling. 1994, Chronicle Books. (Clearly bought new and kept that way by me)

Northern Italian Cooking, by Francesco Ghedini, 1973. Looks new still, but I remember using it for good recipes; I like the style of the book, clear and tidy with the occasional good drawing by Ed Nuckolls re change of food subjects. Damn, I should use this more, it's right up my alley, food wise. Hawthorn Books is the publisher. Probably bought used.

The Art of Sicilian Cooking by Anna Muffoletto, drawings by Ed Nuckolls.; Gramercy Publishing Co, 1971. Another good one, not that I save bad books, but a lot of these are special. I've got several cookbooks re Sicily - they're in different sets of shelves re what my eye catches when I feel like changing books. Order is not my middle name these days. Uh oh, there are some granita and sorbetto recipes in the back, have to keep this one on the fixit shelf. Likely bought this used. I was still in my chinese cooking phase back in '71.

There's a book by an old pal that I've used recently. I've got several of her small books and I'd like to describe them as a set, so I'll put it off for now. As a come on, I'll say that she was a librarian in Hermosa Beach who loved to travel with her artist husband and taught cooking classes in their kitchen, which was set up for that. The door to the kitchen was also the front door to the house.. Wonderful couple, both creative.Lest I forget, her name is Betty Evans. The reason the book is on the kitchen shelf recently is because it contains my favorite chocolate cake recipe.

One more and that's it for cookbooks for today:
A Little Tuscan Cookbook, by Mary Maw and Radha Patterson. Chronicle Books, 1994. Bought new, not actually used by me. It is as cute as a bug's ear, as my mother would have said. Actually a useful little thing if you are packing light re books and are going to be cooking; the recipes look fine to my eye, and the illustrations by Neisha Allen are in refreshing colors.
edit - I just read that the authors own an italian delicatessen in Belfast.
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Reply Thu 18 Aug, 2016 03:14 pm
Totally agree re Laurie Colwin, I still miss her, was stunned when she went and died. A favorite person for many reasons.

MFK Fisher I don't remember very well, not sure why, maybe I was busy then some time quite a while ago; did read her, I think once.

I faintly remember seeing the Food of the World books but where or when I'm blanking on. Maybe used book stores (that's a Time Life Series, isn't it? or a new rendition of it?) I think I remember you talking about the Russian one recently and it sounded interesting.

Remember you talking about Ricardo, great source.
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Reply Thu 18 Aug, 2016 06:36 pm
I subscribe to Ricardo

This is my new favorite sentence.
Reply Thu 18 Aug, 2016 10:38 pm
how could I say no?


joie de vivre
an awesome family man
and he cooks like a dream
Reply Fri 19 Aug, 2016 03:17 pm
News - I fixed the shelf easily, have three of the studs tied to it via nails, circumventing the holes built into the plastic shelf.

Promises - will be back with more cookbooks, not all italian.
Reply Sun 21 Aug, 2016 11:14 am
Even the Chicken is a cutie..
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Reply Sun 21 Aug, 2016 12:06 pm
I decided to do two things at the same time - not always a good idea, but this turned out well.
I was sorting old and new photos, which did not fit into any album.
On the same time I started to sort recipes and cook books, by cutting out the recipes I liked and the rest - out.
Here I sit with two big piles of "what on earth to do??"
Bought plastic folders, plasticsomething where you put paper in, and coloured paper.
One folder with green paper for vegetables and brown paper for potatoes,
one with blue for fish, one with red for meat and one yellow for cheese and eggs and white for birds.
Then I glued a fitting recipe on the coloured paper and a photo.
If I had gotten the idea from a friend his/hers picture came above the recipe or if it is a friend´s favourite dish.
Mother´s cookies of course got a picture of my mother.
It is so much fun and brings out memories every time I use these folders
and it is so easy to find what I want.
Of course I do add new things now and then.
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Reply Sun 21 Aug, 2016 12:24 pm
And now to the shorter kitchen shelf that is actually in a real, if tacky, cabinet. This shelf, in comparison to the long plastic one I described where the thinner
books stayed in the same order year after year, changes often, always by whim.

This week's (or month's) group -

The Victory Garden Cookbook, by Marian Morash; Alfred A. Knopf, 1982.
I see she was a Public Television presenter (I hadn't read the small print before today). I've used the book many times, it's a stalwart cookbook. I've no idea if there are new editions out there in foodland. Lots of recipes and photos, a treasure. Bought new in '82 or so, it looks well used by now.

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison; Broadway Books, 1997, pristine for now. Lots of awards...
New to this shelf in order for me to look at the book more often. Why I don't drag it out all the time is that it's heavy, no excuse. Deborah Madison is the Founding Chef of Greens, easily one of my favorite restaurants. Beautiful food, beautiful building with a fair amount of glass facing out to SF Bay. I'm sure I bought the book at the restaurant one of the times I was there visiting in San Francisco.

Red, White, & Green
The Italian Way with Vegetables
by Faith Willinger; Harper Collins, 1996.
This is another book I've misused because it is too damned pretty, but it's written very smartly, thus brought to the fore on the kitchen cabinet shelf recently. Bought new in a kind of book gluttony. Still looks new.

The Vegetarian Bistro
Authentic French Regional Recipes by Marlena Spieler (who used to write for the SF Chronicle at one point). Chronicle Press, 1997. I remember her as a good writer whose recipes I generally liked, vegetarian or otherwise. Bought new and still in fair shape though it's been moderately used.

Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book; Penguin Handbooks. Seems my edition is from 1981. This is my go to first book re vegetables, if only for the fun of it. She got me to love her with her recipe for sorrel soup. I used to grow plenty of sorrel back in Venice, but have never seen sorrel around since then, and certainly not in Albuquerque. The book is sort of grizzly looking by now.

Oops, I pushed Sent too fast.
Always on the shelf is The Italian Baker by Carol Field; Harper and Row; 1st edition, 1985. Talk about grizzly, this books opens by itself on various pages, a true workhorse, well-loved book. In contrast with the book by Deborah Madison that I do like but use rarely, this one is also on the larger side but not as large, and is not all that heavy while still made with good paper. Of course now the good paper is somewhat stain decorated.

Tucked in on the shelf end is Patricia Wells' Trattoria; William Morrow and Company, 1993. This one opens with a bookmark at Fresh Egg Pasta....
Right now I've turn some pages to see Tuscan Bean and Wheat Berry Soup, aka Gran Farro. I've lately learned to appreciate Red Mills Farro a lot, even use it in my burrito concoctions, so the book is going to stay on the kitchen shelf for the nonce while I re-look at the recipes.
Reply Wed 24 Aug, 2016 11:53 am
Paul Bocuse In Your Kitchen, An Introduction to Classic French Cooking; Pantheon Press, 1982

John had bought it back when we were together, but mailed it to me later when I asked about Bocuse's Potatoes Au Gratin recipe. The book is a sturdy treasure by the influential chef. I still use it most for the potato dish - so now I'm sticking it in with the kitchen cabinet books so it dawns on me to use it more.
His recipes veer toward simplicity, which is restful.

Lutece, A Day in the Life of America's Greatest Restaurant; by Irene Daria; 1993. This is more of a cooking history book, only a few recipes.
Never did read it, probably bought it used but it looks new. I need to put it in
the living room by the armchair, where I can nab it and start to read. Besides, it's a rather pretty book, on the small side.

I did it again, clicked on Sent too fast. So, this post will grow..

The Cuisine of Fredy Girardet, The Incomparable Recipes of the Greatest Chef in Europe; Tested and annotated for American kitchens; written by the chef. English translation in 1985, William Morrow and Company. I see I paid $6.00 for it used, but when? Paging through, the recipes in the earlier part of the book are way out of my league, but the dessert and ice cream and sorbet recipes, ahhhhh. Another good thing is the book is on the small side and has an excellent protective cover.

The La Varenne Cooking Course, The Complete Basic Course from the Prestigious French Cooking School in Paris; by Ann Willan.; William Morrow and Company, 1982. Don't know when I got this, but I take it as a used purchase because it's slightly worn and I've never cooked from it as it on the large and heavy side. It does look like it has everything you'd want to know.

Which reminds me, where is my Julia Child? Passed on to others now in a rather well worn state.

Last book for today,
DESSERTS BY Pierre Herme; written by Dorie Greenspan and Pierre Herme; Little, Brown and Company, 1998.
Glorious book.
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Reply Sun 28 Aug, 2016 02:30 pm
Time for more cookbooks -

Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking; Barron's; 1982, bought used. I've lots of bookmarks tucked into it. It's going back to the kitchen shelf for a nice stretch.

Southwest Slow Cooking, by Tammy Biber and Teresa Howell; Northland Publishing, 2004.
Lots of fun recipes - I need to keep this by my slow cooker..
One of these days I'll try making the Pork Chops with Lentils, Pineapple, and Mango Salsa.

the new cook's tour of Sonoma, by michele anna jordan; Sasquatch Books, 2000. (there was a 1990 edition)
As Dys would have said, it's groovy. As it says on the back cover, it's The Food Lover's Guide to America's Provence.

America's Best Chef's Cook with Jeremiah Tower
Companion to the PBS Television Series
John Wiley and Sons, 2003; I got it from Amazon/good price.
Many fancypants recipes, but also some down to earth ones, including good recipes for various stocks.

The Jimtown Store Cookbook, Recipes from Sonoma County's Favorite Country Market, by Carrie Brown, John Werner, and Michael McLaughlin. Harper Collins, 2002.
All the recipe titles make me hungry. I liked the market too. Besides being small and interesting, it faced out to a lot of beautiful land.

Savoring the Wine Country, Recipes from the Finest Restaurants of Northern California's Wine Regions. Compiled and edited by Meesha Halm and Danya Macy. CollinsPublishersSanFrancisco, 1995. A keeper of a book, it also has enjoyable photography by Steven Rothfeld.

Last book for today -
72 Market St. A collections of recipes and portraits from a classic Venice restaurant. By Roland Bibert with Robert Lia; Wave Publishing, Venice, California, 1998.

This restaurant was part of my stomping ground over a bunch of years. We didn't go often, but it was always fun and provided great meals. Their meatloaf and gravy was the best ever.
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Reply Sun 28 Aug, 2016 02:57 pm
Great lists.

I learned a lot from Marian in the old Victory Gardens days. Used to watch her regularly - write out the recipes and prepare them. A few odd ideas but generally successful results.
Reply Sun 28 Aug, 2016 03:05 pm
I never saw the show, but I really used the book back then.

Correction re the 72 Market St. book - the chef author is Roland Gibert, not Bibert.
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