What is Your Absolute Favorite Cookbook?

photo by yomi955 on Flickr

This year, 2010, is the year I learn how to better cook. I just know it.

Up until recently I’ve been getting by with a few signature recipes that I made over and over again until I could get them right all the time. But with my family’s diet changes over the last couple of years, those recipes have fallen by the wayside.

I’ve been exploring new cookbooks from the library, selecting a few recipes from each one to try.

My favorite cookbook (and really, the only one I own) is The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam from Elana’s Pantry.

We open it a couple of times a week to make comfort foods like biscuits and cookies.  The simple, short list of ingredients makes each recipe easy to prepare, and the results taste so good. It’s been the perfect book to cook from with my three-year-old daughter. We bond over baking.

Do you keep anything inside your favorite cookbooks?

I’ve heard from several readers who say they keep little notes, photos, or memory verses inside their cookbooks. I love that idea.

So tell me, what is your favorite cookbook, the one that you refer to time and time again?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. Where do you get the almond flour to use with recipes in this book? I really don’t want to have to order almond flour and would much rather just be able to get it from the store, but the author says that you can’t use Bob’s Redmill flour. This is the one reason I have not gotten this cookbook.

    • I’ve been ordering blanched almond flour online from Honeyville. We started with a 5 pound bag, but now we order it in bulk, 25 pounds at a time which lasts several months. I’ve used Bob’s Red Mill almond flour with the recipes, and it’s fine if you want to just try it for the first time, but the main reason I order it online is the price. Bob’s Red Mill almond flour can cost over $12 a pound in the store, but when I order from Honeyville online it’s more like $5 a pound.

      Even though almond flour is expensive, we love it because it’s nutritious, it’s simple to bake with, and it doesn’t have the weird aftertastes and textures that most other gluten-free flours have.

      The agave nectar that so many recipes call for is also better to buy a gallon at a time, since it keeps well and it’s so much less money that way.

      • Just a quick note about agave… The marketing on this product is really phenomenal. I admit I fell head-over-heels in love with agave when I discovered it. Nicely sweet, doesn’t crystalize like honey, has a cleaner flavor than any other sweetener besides sugar, reputed to be more natural, etc. Then I started reading a lot about the massive processing that happens with agave. Lots of chemicals, lots of energy, etc. As far as I can tell, agave isn’t much different than high-fructose corn syrup (other than it isn’t derived from corn). I’ve gone back to locally-sourced honey as a result–and found it cheaper than agave, too.

        • There is a lot of differing information about it, but I know we see the same way about using moderation no matter what type of sweetener.

        • How do you determine how much honey to use in place of agave?

  2. Jenni at My Web of Life says:

    I love thumbing through all of my cookbooks but the classic Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook is my go-to for just about everything.

    I also LOVE the lasagna recipe in Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld.

    • My go to recipe from Deceptively Delicious is the Italian Meatloaf! If you haven’t tried it, you definitely should! I even had my 16 year-old male babysitter devour a whole loaf one night! LOL

  3. MY favorite one for the past couple years has been “The Six O’Clock Scramble” by Aviva Goldfarb. There’s a meal for every day of the week broken down by season. There is a lot of variety and (my favorite part) there are side dish suggestions! The ONLY downfall to the books is no pictures. I love pictures in my cookbooks.

  4. Picking out my favorite cookbook is like figuring out my favorite colored M & M. (Green.)

    I have a Better Homes & Gardens cookbook I adore, and have never had a recipe flop from there. I also adore some of Barefoot Contessa’s cookbooks, though I parted with a bunch (her use of butter in everything was not healthy.)

    I keep page markers in some of my books, some recipes I’ve made so often I know them by heart.

  5. That’s funny- you’re the second website I’ve seen hers mentioned on! I am a fan of Nourishing Traditions. :)

    Mrs. Money´s last post…How to Make Mouthwash

  6. Well, if this isn’t a timely post! I was just getting ready to email you and ask after your favorite gluten-free cookbook. Tom and I have been talking about reducing the amount of gluten we eat.

    I have trouble narrowing down to a favorite cookbook. Lately, I’ve been using the Internet a lot! I do like my William’s Sonoma Essentials of Healthful Cooking, Betty Crocker Best Chicken and of course, good ole faithful Better Homes and Gardens.

    Lynette´s last post…Big Girl…

  7. No favorite book here, but a note to share. A friend writes in her books. Date and occasion recipe was used and how it was received. Comments for the next time it’s made . . . It’s a neat journal of sorts. :-) Denise

    • Me, too. I’ve taken to noting any tweaks of the recipe in the margins, any thoughts I had once I actually ate it (ie, “needs more spice” or “too runny-less H2O next time), and some kind of rating. A friend uses an A+, A, A-, B+, B, B- system, so she knows just how much she loved a recipe. I tend to do exclamation points or stars. And when I find a recipe online that I like, I tend to slot it in the area of my favorite cookbook that has similar recipes, so I can find it when I’m looking for it later.

  8. Pioneer Woman!
    The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl

    Love her recipes from her blog and they look even better in print

  9. I have a collection of cookbooks – it’s what people get me for gifts and I buy one on our travels from each state. Anyway, the one I go to most often is Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” (has great basic recipes and lots of international recipes that are fun to try.). Anytime I make a new recipe, I put the date and whether it was good or not. Sometimes I’ll note the kids’ names and whether they liked it.

  10. I love cookbooks, and have a fairly good collection.
    My all time go-to cookbook has got to be Julia Child’s “The Way to Cook”. It is just full of how-to’s, with wonderful descriptions and great photos. Once you have a foundation you can cook most anything!

    In all my cookbooks I take a pencil & put a check mark next to recipes I tried, then any notes on what I did differently,what I thought, and who did or did not like it.

  11. My all time favourite cookbooks are basically anything by Nigel Slater (well known in the UK). He’s a home cook and his ’30 Minute Cook’ is amazing … the chicken with garlic and cider, the dahl … I go back to his recipes time after time. He’s honest with no ‘cheffy’ overtones.

    • Yeah, I loved the Moosewoods when I first started cooking. I’d definitely recommend Moosewood Cooks at Home as it has lots of fast, easy recipes (whereas the others can be a bit more involved. But the Spicy Tomato Soup recipe from the original Moosewood–with the brown cover? YUM! An all-time favorite for us.)

    • Mollie Katzen has a new cookbook for beginners called Get Cooking. I borrowed it from the library and am thinking about buying it, although I’m not really a beginning cook.

      I like Texan Marie Hejl’s Cooking with Marie. Her website (with recipes) is mariesaba.com.

      Finally, I bought Family Feasts for $75 a Week by Mary Ostyn recently and recommend it as much for the tips and philosophy as the recipes.

  12. My husband and I received the Joy of Cooking for our wedding. We have enjoyed looking through the volumes of recipes to find new dishes and desserts to make. It has been fun to read together, shop together and cook new meals together.

    Nicole´s last post…nothing

  13. My general go-to book is Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything,” but my favorite, that I use most often, is probably “The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen” by Donna Klein. Most of the recipes are simple, for those of us who don’t have as much time to cook as we’d like.

    Ang.´s last post…Knitting Olympics

  14. I’m a definite online recipe person. It’s been forever since I reached for a cookbook – UNTIL…The Pioneer Woman Cooks! I got it just to read because she’s funny and I want to make EVERYTHING. It’s bee such a great reference and idea source lately and it feels so great to reach for and use a real cookbook instead of my laptop!

    Lillian´s last post…A Play Kitchen Renovation – Before and After

  15. I am newly obsessed with America’s Test Kitchen TV show cookbook. They also have a great make ahead book and 30 minute book. I have yet to try a recipe that has not been fabulous….and I have a tough crowd to please. I also have been regularly checking in with the blogs pioneer woman and smitten kitchen for my weekly menu planning.
    Thanks for the gluten free suggestion!

    • would be nice if I could spell my name correctly…the challenges of typing with a toddler on your lap :)

    • I’m another America’s Test Kitchen fan. I reach for America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook before any other. Mine’s 2 or 3 years old and falling apart from use. I didn’t know they had a make-ahead and a 30 minute book — I’ll have to find those. My favorite things about ATK is that I can trust that I’ll do it correctly and it will taste good every time, whether I’ve made it before or not. Trusting it makes up for complicated ingredients and time for me.

      Amy F´s last post…Talked to the midwives

      • I also love the America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook. The only complaints I have about it is that the ingredient lists are a bit long and their chocolate recipes are very dark and rich (I prefer lighter and sweeter). The recipes are very reliable, have clear instructions, and offer a number of tips throughout.

  16. I have a few good cookbooks that I use.

    1) the Pioneer Woman Cooks. I’m a huge fan, mostly because of the step by step pictures (I’m new at this!) and because it’s a lot of meat and mexican, just the way I like it.
    2) All Cakes Considered. I’m a huge cake person and this book is by a woman at NRP. It’s a gorgeous book just to look at.

  17. ohhhhhhhhh! What great conversation!

    I have lots that I have referred to many times through the years. When we first got married, I started buying the Taste of Home cookbook collections for each year. I have them from 1999-2005 I think. Great, simple, practical recipes. They never fail me.

    Recently, I am loving Mary Ostyn (Owlhaven)’s Family Feasts for $75 a Week. Great menu-planning/grocery shopping advice and TONS and TONS of practical and easy recipes, but she includes lots of more “exotic” ones as well. It is getting a lot of use in my kitchen these days.

    Megan@SortaCrunchy´s last post…Little Life Lessons (learned at the mall)

  18. The PW Cookbook is fun! I don’t use cookbooks that much… honestly… except for baking. I get inspired by cooking shows on tv (just pbs these days), and I play and experiment. I like good food and good ingredients. But I will definitely be checking out the recommendations here, especially the gluten-free. I get almond flour at Trader Joes… it seems to have the skin on the almonds and adds a lot of texture. I will have to check into what you use. Blessings!!!

    Terri´s last post…More Valentines!

  19. My favorite is Cheap, Fast, Good. It is very well worn, the sign of a well-loved cookbook. The title says it all…the meals are cheap, fast and good. Nothing that will rock your world, but every single one is a keeper. This would make an awesome wedding gift or baby shower gift.

  20. I’ve been subscribed to ur blog for a while but this is the first time I’m posting. I just love it. This cookbook looks grea. My brother can’t have gluten in his diet so I am referring this onto him. Thanks for the rec!!

  21. I have not seen that cookbook before, I am going to have to check it out. Thanks for sharing. I actually use my computer more than my cookbooks. I am always searching for recipes on-line and I typically print most of my recipes from AllRecipes.com. I can find non-dairy recipes as well as traditional recipes. I print them out and then keep them in a “Favorite Recipes” notebook.

    Michelle Traudt´s last post…Thy Will Be Done

  22. I have a cookbook problem – I “collect” way too many of them. Right now I am LOVING Jamie Oliver’s “Jamie’s Food Revolution” cookbook – the curries and stews look amazing. I also love one that my husband got me a couple of years ago “The Irish Pub Cookbook”.

  23. First let me say that I grew up and live in Alabama so I’m pretty much Southern to the core. So it just makes sense that my favorite cookbook of all time is “The All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook.”

    I have tried many recipes from it and have never found one that wasn’t good, and most were absolutely incredible. I can’t say that about any other cookbook I’ve ever tried. The only draw back is that a lot of the recipes are not very healthy, so I don’t cook out of it too often, just when I need some good ‘ole Southern comfort foods. :)

    Amanda @ Mommy’s Idea Book´s last post…Menu Plan Monday (2/15 – 2/21)

  24. There are a few that I like, but by far my all-time favorite is the Better Homes & Gardens Red Plaid cookbook. I registered for the “Bridal” edition when I got married, and it has been invaluable in teaching me how to do a thousand little things I didn’t realize I didn’t know how to do, such as:
    Substitute milk & lemon juice for buttermilk
    Make mashed potatoes
    Knead bread dough
    Flute pie crust edges
    I don’t know what I would have done without it!

    Amy´s last post……the reward she has earned…

    • I’ve been married 40 years and the Better Homes & Garden, red plaid one has been used a lot over the years. My most recent discovery which utilized local foods is “Simply in Season”…..great for using produce that is…..yep, in season!

  25. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Gooseberry Patch hardcover, spiral bound cookbooks. I have all of them and use them all the time. You can go to their website and search for a recipe in any their cookbooks (page #) and that makes is super easy to find them.. They all have quaint stories and tips to go along with the recipes. They are the only thing that I collect and I have a shelf about a food from the ceiling in my laundry room (right off the kitchen) to hold them all. Second place would have to go to the standby, Betty Crocker (the red one).

  26. My favorite cookbook is “The Joy of Cooking”. The recipes are simple and delicious. I have tried some cookbooks where there recipes do not taste as good as they sound. But with “The Joy of Cooking” each time I’ve made something it has been delicious. They cover everything you can think of. If I could have only one cookbook, this would be it.


    • I adore the Joy of Cooking. I have learned how to be a cook, not just cook from a book. Read this one cover to cover, you will be able to work with what you have in a pinch, and never mind if I have this ingredient or that:)

  27. We’re vegetarian, so I love Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I also love America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks, especially the baking one, but with food restrictions that probably wouldn’t work for you.

    I don’t know if you’re off eggs, but you can substitute soy flour and water for eggs in baking – I do it in muffins all the time, and it works great.

    mother necessity´s last post…Monday, Monday…

    • A second on Madison’s Veg Cooking for Everyone. I *love* this book. My only complaint is that the index isn’t as good as it could be, but for sheer volume of recipes, and creative recipes, it rocks.

  28. My absolute favorite cookbook is “Clueless in the Kitchen”. A great learning tool for anyone, especially kids and teens (who the book is geared towards). The author also has ‘Clueless Baker’!

    AprilFire´s last post…Truly on my own again

  29. Alice Waters “The Art of Simple Food” Everytime I have an ingredient that I am not sure how to use, I look and there and find a wonderful, simple recipe that is absolutely delicious. Alice has helped us try a lot of new things and use up a few things in the pantry and fridge.

  30. I love, love, love Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. We’re not vegetarian, but it is a great resource and I’ve never made a bad recipe from it. I also love Cook’s Illustrated’s New Best Recipe for looking up dumb stuff like for how long I need to hard boil an egg. A good chunk of what I make daily comes from kalynskitchen.blogspot.com–she focuses on South Beach Diet-friendly recipes, so I think they’d be pretty easy to adapt for your family’s food needs.

    rebecca´s last post…The Dream House

  31. I live with a Celebrity Chef (Hood #5) – he may be five – but he has participated in the food preparation of every meal he has ever eaten, seriously he didn’t eat before he could do it himself!!!. Think days and hours of practice. The best cookbook for him to learn the basics: techniques, recipes and skills was Jamie Oliver’s: Ministry of Food – here is his review: http://www.se7en.org.za/2009/01/13/the-celebrity-chef-reviews-the-ministry-of-food

    Our school year is about to begin and he and I will work our way through the River Cottage Family Cookbook – it looks fabulous for all the reasons why we do what we do when we cook… why do we add salt, why do we use baking powder and so on… I think we are going to love it!!! And how to cook from what you grow, make your own cream cheese and all fun looking projects.

    Hope that helps!!!

    se7en´s last post…The Week That Was – 2.33

    • Karen (Scotland) says:

      Just thought I would add that River Cottage Family Cookbook (Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall) is my go to book at the moment. I think it is written for older children/teens that are starting to cook and I tend to read it as a book now and then, as well as just using the recipes.
      He goes through the history and ethics of different foods and WHY we do certain things (flour plus water equals dough, flour plus fat equals pastry but WHY.) Because he explains so much, I feel myself improving my technique just because I understand the science of things better.
      It’s not as “preachy” as some of his other books (which I love and agree with the preaching but can be a bit much when you just want a recipe for a sponge cake ;-) )
      Was just about to add that it would be perfect for homeschoolers when I saw your comment, se7en, so I thought I’d add this as a reply instead of a separate comment. My kids are still too wee but I can’t wait to do some of the stuff with them! Enjoy the book!
      Karen (Scotland)

  32. I have an adoration for the aged, ragged, yellowed page beauty that belonged to my husband’s grandmother. We refer to it as “Edith” after what we picture is an adorable little old church lady who makes amazing food in simple, traditional ways. It’s like having your grandmother in the kitchen with you everyday. There aren’t any fancy pictures … or come to think of it, any pictures at all save the step by step drawings on how to butcher your own livestock, but the old girl hasn’t failed me yet.

    Em.´s last post…Menu Monday: RIP Oven Edition

  33. My absolute favorite is one that I put together myself.

    Over the years I had collected several recipes from magazines, friends, relatives, and from books from the library. I needed a system to organize them. (The bulk of this book was made before children FYI) ;)

    I typed out all my FAVORITE recipes as well as a few good standby meals that we had on a regular basis. I printed them off in different colors acoording to different categories I had in mind to divide off in the book. I filled a 3 ring binder with slip covers and got colored tabs to use as dividers to match the printed recipes. I have a section for Italian, Mexican, home cooking (like meat loaf and casseroles), quick and easy meals which also happen to be quite kid friendly most of the time, desserts, breakfasts, appetizers, and party-type foods like specialty drinks and dips etc.

    Now that I have kids I just slip in a new recipe into one of the slip covers in the pre-divided section;either with a print-out from email/blog or web site,photo copy or just ripping it out of a magazine (if I’ve bought or been given one). Maybe one day I’ll create a print out to match the others, but it functions just fine for our needs of this season. I love that I have all of our family favorites organized in ONE book.

    It’s also nice to have an electronic file of our favorites because it could easily be printed out to create another recipe binder to give as a fun gift for a more personalized newly-wed shower gift.

    heidi @ wonder woman wannabe´s last post…Monday Musings::A New Day

    • The cookbook I made is my favourite as well. It’s not nearly as organized as your is though! Just a plain binder with page protectors in it and whenever I find a great recipe that is printed, I just slip it in. My true favourite eventually migrate to the front and I try to remove the “flops” every now and then too.

      I also have an online version of the binder, which is simply a collection of bookmarks organized at delicious.com

      I got the idea from Simple Mom and now that I have laptop to use in the kitchen it is one of my fav ways to organize recipes.

  34. Okay, can you tell I like to cook? My cookbooks bookcase is the most used one in the house (and that says a lot considering that I worked in publishing for 13 years!) So, to reiterate comments added on above:

    Madison’s Veg Cooking for Everyone is a great resource, even if you’re not vegetarian. Lots of good ideas for using the veggies we’re all supposed to be eating more of.

    Cook’s Illustrated Best Recipes cookbooks are fabulous. We have The New Best Recipe which gets tons of use but also The Best Light Recipe because, well, they’re fans of butter, too. :) What I love about this series is that in addition to the recipe, they have lots of good instructions on how to do certain things, plus WHY to do certain things. Reading that has made me a better cook for certain.

    If you like to try ethnic cuisines, I’d highly recommend Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian. The best recipes here tend to be the Asian/Indian ones, but there’s a good assortment of world cuisines as well. And again, her instructions are easy to follow.

    I recently invested in Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson. Haven’t cooked a ton from it yet, but what I have I’ve enjoyed, and it was highly recommended by a friend with food restrictions, too. You can access lots of her recipes via her website at http://www.101cookbooks.com but you might be particularly interested in her stuff as she includes lots of recipes good for folks with food restrictions.

    Have fun with the cooking!

  35. AlaskanAndi says:

    Cooking Light. I keep notes and folded edges!

  36. better homes and gardens is my standby! classic, easy and quick recipes that i modify to make healthier for my family.

  37. I have a large cookbook collection and I still seem to gravitate back to my worn, paperback Fannie Farmer cookbook – I love the old-standby simple recipes. I do a lot of tweaking to make the recipes healthier, but it still is a great performer in the kitchen.

  38. I confess… although I have a handful of cookbooks that I do refer to occasionally, I could not live without Allrecipes.com!!! does that count? :)

  39. My old favorite is More with Less, and my new favorite is Family Feasts. Both are also handbooks for being good stewards, alongside practical and delicious recipes!

    carrie´s last post…Carrie & Carolyn

  40. I recently purchased Mariel Hemmingway’s book: Mariels’s Kitchen. I really like it. She is wheat-free which I have been doing myself.

  41. Don’t make me pick!

    -The Joy of Cooking. I hope to someday inherit my mom’s–she won’t give it up yet!
    -The New Moosewood Cookbook. We’re not vegetarian, but we try to do 2 days of meatless entrees per week.
    -America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook. Great stuff, awesome shortcuts.
    -Apples for Jam. I’ll admit that I don’t cook from it all that often, but it is so beautiful and such a great read!

    I mostly use recipes saved on evernote and in my recipe binder. I do love me a good cookbook, though. I love all these recommendations!

    liz´s last post…canned food storage

  42. I write in my cookbooks all the time noting how things turned out. Too salty, too bland, ect. If it really didn’t work out or if I didn’t care for it I’ll just put a big X on top of the recipe so I won’t bother with it again.

  43. I learned how to cook by studying Ina Garten’s (The Barefoot Contessa) cookbooks. I sit on the couch at night and read them like novels and EVERYTHING I have ever made from her is AMAZING!

    • I adore her books. I’d take them to bed at night and read them!

    • I have laughed to people about “reading them like novels” as well! They are such a pleasure to read and enjoy, and the recipes are trustworthy.

  44. I love, love, love “The Joy of Cooking,” like others have mentioned because I’ve found that it tells me about (almost!) everything, even things I’ll probably never good in my life!
    “More with Less” is also excellent for simple, inexpensive meals.

  45. “How to Eat” by Nigella Lawson. It is perfect in my eyes. No photos, just a book full of recipes and reflections on food and its place in our life. I once read a review which said you need two copies, one for the kitchen and one for beside your bed to read at night. I could not agree more with the idea. I ADORE this book.

  46. I really like one called, The New American Plate. It has a lot of healthy recipes that focus on portion size and the ratio of meat to veggies. Another one I like a lot is Eat, Love, Heal. An Ayurvedic cookbook. The first one is much more useful, but the second is interesting.

    Andi´s last post…V-day Hair and Makeup

  47. My two favorite cook books are:
    The Silver Palate and
    How to cook everything

  48. I’m not a vegetarian, but I really like Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone by Deborah Madison. It’s huge and has every conceivable vegetable in it and how to prepare it. I just picked up another cookbook by here called Local Harvest. I still need to get her Greens Cookbook.

  49. My favorite is one I just read: How to Cook Everything. I did a review of it here: http://shelfworthyreads.blogspot.com/2010/02/review-how-to-cook-everything.html

    It’s perfect since I am trying to eat more “real” foods and slowly work my way free from all packaged foods, corn and soy-based foods, and the like.

    Rachel´s last post…My Frugal Journey

  50. My Mother gave me Joy of Cooking when I moved in with my husband. It’s full of “base” recipes. It teaches you how to make anything you could possibly want to make…or how to skin a squirrel **shiver**. But I always add something or take something out. My copy is full of scribblings, doodles and spills.

  51. Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything”…the name pretty much sums it up!

  52. My fave is a Mennonite cookbook (though I’m not Mennonite) given to me by one of my loveliest college professors as a wedding gift. The book is called More with Less and I use it all the time — I even have many of the recipes memorized now (after 8 years of marriage). I love it so much I went and bought another one in the same series called Extending the Table: A World Community Cookbook (my favorite recipe from there is an African chicken dish with tomatoes, celery, and peanut butter that you serve over rice). Mmmmmmm.

  53. How to Cook Everything the Basics is definitely my go to. When my husband and I first got married we were stumped at what to cook and his sister recommended this book and we really always refer to it for anything– and everything.

  54. Back to More with Less: We rate our meals on a scale of 1 to 10, and I have all these ratios written on many of the recipes in More with Less. I also rate them not only on how tasty they are, but how many dirty dishes there are at the end (we didn’t have a dishwasher in Japan, where we lived for the last 8 years). Some recipes I won’t even make again because they generated such a mess in the kitchen!

    • That is the first time I have heard of rating recipes based on the cleanup, and that is so smart! Often my husband does the cooking and I do the cleaning up.

  55. More With Less.

  56. The Joy of Cooking. I have the older edition from a family friend. Eat Well, Live Well by Pamela M. Smith, RD. This one focuses on whole wheat and grains and tells you how to combine simple and complex carbs so that you’re eating healthier. Love most of the recipes.

  57. The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook. Excellent resource for everything from cocktails to dessert and everything in between. I write notes in my cookbooks; things like the date I first make a recipe, if it’s for a special occassion, if one of the girls or my husband especially care for it, etc. These little notes bring wonderful memories to the surface each time I see them and I hope that at some point my girls will appreciate them. (I have a couple of cookbooks that belonged to my grandmother and they have her hand written notes in them. I think there’s something so special about seeing her writing, her thoughts, etc.)

    Nancy´s last post…opting out of plastic

    Absolutely indispensable practical vegetarian cookbook!

  59. A current favorite cookbook is Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten.

    When I cook something for the first time, I always mark the date in my cookbook – right next to the recipe and tell if I liked it or not, or any changes I want to make next time. The cookbook becomes like a journal. If we have special company I write that in, too. Fun.

  60. Anything by Ina Garten! Completely realistically simple and delicious recipes with fresh ingredients.

    Emily from ReadyToWait.com´s last post…Road signs

  61. Do you read Shauna James Ahern? Her site is http://www.glutenfreegirl.com and she has some amazing recipes! I know she has a cookbook that either just came out or is about to come out. I just use her site, but she has never disappointed me!

  62. I have lots of favorites! I loved “Whole foods for the whole family” on my mom’s shelf. The hand drawn pictures were facinating to me as a child. I also love some fabulous but random Italian cookbooks I’ve picked up at used bookstores. I love my subscription to Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. There are so many recipes in there! Recently, I told my husband I might need to trade in my magazines for the bound books since I use them so often!

    One thing I have done recently is get popular cookbooks at the library to see if I even like them before buying them. Sometimes it takes a month or so for the very popular or new ones but its been a good way to rotate my cookbook shelf for free!

  63. Elizabeth B says:

    Wow. I just e-mailed myself info on no fewer than eight library books that i want to check out now. Well played. ;)

  64. Everyday Food is the best. Divided seasonally so I know I am cooking with in season vegetables and it is all fresh, clean food. And my family loves it all.

  65. Fannie Farmer is the best starter cookbook. I am currently wearing out my second copy. I also have the Fannie Farmer Baking book which is great for all of those special detailed baked goods.

    You will never know what you will find in one of my cookbooks. I have poems from my children, photographs of people who have passed on, sticker sheets from the birthday party that I baked a cake for, etc.

    Since the first copy of this cookbook was a wedding gift from my mother I also have all of the addresses that we have ever lived since we were married (I had to transfer some of them when the first copy fell apart but I still have it because I write notes in the margins).

    My children love to open up the cookbook and look through the memories, so do I.

  66. My Taste of Home Contest Winners 2005 and 2006 are well stained, so you know they’re high mileage. And also The Best of Amish Cooking by Phyllis Pellman Good – I’m born and raised PA Dutch, and we’re at the roots Amish, but I was never really taught to cook the cuisine. Since I’ve moved to Ohio, these recipes give me a tummy full of comfort. But mostly I test-run cookbooks from the library and hand-copy likely recipes. Maybe someday I’ll put out my own recipe book? :)

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  67. I was surprised no one has listed my favorite yet – Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food.

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  68. I know you probably can’t use most of the recipes, but the one I always go back to is my mother’s copy of the Betty Crocker 1969 edition cookbook. It was out before all the chemical and processed ingredients of today were made so I feel like I’m making real food. It’s where I get all my Christmas cookies recipes!

    http://www.rubylane.com/shops/vintagevault/item/RL-01833?gbase=1 (Mine looks destroyed compared to this picture!)

  69. Everyday Food: Great Food Fast
    Incredible and simple. Good for fast cooking and helps build kitchen confidence.

    While I don’t have the attention span for anything more complicated, I won’t touch Rachael Ray’s recipes with a stick- Though I’m sure she’s a lovely person.

  70. America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook – it is easy to use, has family-friendly recipes, and it has put those recipes through many taste testing panels.

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  71. All my favorites are here already, but I thought I’d “amen” y’all.

    The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters
    How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
    Anything by Deborah Madison
    The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home
    The Six O’clock Scramble by Aviva Goldfarb

    and this website too….http://www.southernliving.com/food/


  72. I constantly refer to my Better Homes & Gardens and Betty Crocker cook books. They’re the old stand-by’s. However, I checked out the Paula Deen family cook book from the library a couple months ago, and I have to say, as I paged through it, almost all of the recipes sounded SO delicious. That is one I would like to buy.

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  73. My very favorite cookbook is one my sister put together for me with all our family recipes. I use that one all the time.

    I also love Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa at Home

    I make notes in my cookbooks with ways I’ve adjusted a recipe or things I like or dislike about it.

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  74. i don’t have a favorite, but i am one who thinks the joy of cooking is a must have.

  75. Oh man I gotta put my two cents in on this…but there are so many good ones! If its the one I refer to over and over for the most basic stuff its gotta be my 1960′s Better Homes and Gardens illustrated cookbook. I think it was my grandma’s and I used to sneak it upstairs to pour over the pictures…what kid sneaks a cookbook???

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  76. I like the Saving Dinner cookbooks, they are broken up by season they give a week of receipes and a shopping list. She also lists sides and changes to make them kosher and gluten free usually.

  77. Find church cookbooks, community organizations cookbooks, and covered-dish supper cookbooks. Those are the best! That’s real food! m.

  78. I have a TON of cookbooks. I have several vegetarian cookbooks (helps with the gluten-free side as well as the less meat more veggies idea too…) almost 25 years of BH&G cookbooks, 2 slow cooker (my favorite one is the Betty Crocker Slow Cooker one), several ones from Pampered Chef and a few other miscellaneous as well.

    BUT, I really like to get recipes online: http://www.glutenfreechecklist.com, http://www.smittenkitchen.com, and almost anything from Mark Bittman (NY Times).

    I also refer to my grandmother’s recipe box a lot lately as well. Some of the recipes are 30 or more years old.

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  79. I can’t cook without a cookbooks. I am so independent with them..

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  80. I’m not saying this cause I am Canadian, and this cook book is a Canadian success story. It’s because I love the silly, easy recipes.

    I love the Looneyspoons cookbook by Janet and Greta Podleski. It’s full of low fat recipes with crazy names like “Starvin’ Guy Chicken Pie,” or “Shepherdopoulos Pie.”

  81. Mine is allrecipes.com lol – I haven’t quite gotten into buying recipe books yet. One of these days. :)

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  82. I love Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair. The recipes are healthy, easy, and they all taste amazing.

  83. Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything is perfect for learning how to cook , for finding recipes to try out on interesting new vegetables/meat cuts/fish. I also like that it shows you techniques for everything. My mother said that it’s an encylopedia because it has so much information. It’s useful and well organized as well. It has lists of Top 100 make ahead/fast/vegetarian/etc recipes. It’s my number one cookbook. It’s perfect for simple cooking and for making something fancy, with clear instructions.

  84. I like Cook What You Love by Robert Blanchard. He and his wife also wrote a book called Life at the Beach which I would highly recommend.

    Also, have you been to the blog my first kitchen? http://www.myfirstkitchen.net/

    It’s a good one.

    Like others have mentioned, I like to make notes in my cookbooks of the date, occasion I made it, who was present for the meal, if we liked it, notes for next time, etc.


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  85. “Nourishing Traditions,” by Sally Fallon, of the Weston A. Price Foundation. If you like healthy and tasty, this is the best!

  86. I love Devra Gartenstein’s “Accidental Vegan.”
    2009 revised ed: http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9781587613388-0

    I’m not vegan (lacto-ovo vegetarian), but the recipes are all so simple and have very few ingredients each. I love that! Fresh, healthy, whole foods. I always wish I ate better and I find a lot of veggie inspiration in vegan cookbooks.

    Have fun exploring!

  87. Just wanted to add one more to the mix. If you’ve read or like the Mitford Series by Jan Karon, her “Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader” is fantastic. Delicious recipes accompanied by excerpts from her books, personal reflections, etc. It’s our family’s favorite.

  88. what a great topic. i’m finding my way to a vegetarian/whole foods diet [Hubby is kicking and screaming the whole way LOL] so i’m working on an overhaul to my usual menus. now i have 20 cookbooks to help me in my quest. thanks!

  89. I know this post is old but I’m new here and wanted to comment. I have started cooking from scratch recently and borrowing various cookbooks from my mom. The best part is finding her note. Just today I found a reminder note about an open house night for my 2nd grade class from 1986. So cool. BTW, I love this sight.

  90. How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. It shows the basics and then it takes off from there. I like the recipes and then all the variations on that recipe.

    • Wow! So many Mark Bittman fans…I let a bad review talk me out of that one, but I may have to reconsider!

      I know this is waaay late, but I just discovered this blog recently, and no one mentioned my 2 favorites:

      How to Cook Without a Book by Pam Anderson
      Simple Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin

  91. One of my passions is collecting, reading & cooking out of my Cherished cookbooks! So I can’t say I have just one favorite cookbook…My top favorites: Church Cookbooks I’ve collected thanks to my family & friends, Southern Living Cookbooks & Annuals 1979-present, Cook Illustrated, Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking ,Gooseberry Patch volumes,& The Los Angeles Times California Cookbook

  92. Another big Janet and Greta Podleski fan here! My favourite cookbook is their most recent one “Eat Shrink and Be Merry” They have a goofy show on Food network by the same name. Greta is an absolute magician when it comes to making healthy food taste fabulous!

    We use all 3 of their cookbooks, and we have given them as gifts because we love the recipes so much!

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  93. Since I have to be on special diet my new favorite healthy cookbook is “Learn to Eat Healthy”. It has great info and recipes and a lot of useful tips.

  94. I collect them, but the cookbook I refer to most often is How To Boil Water. It taught me how to properly chop/dice/mince onions and shallots, and how to roast any vegetable properly. The recipes are good and the pictures and diagrams are very user-friendly, but I mostly use it like a Basic Cooking 101 reference book. I bought a copy for my brother and his new wife for Xmas, as they are learning how to cook. I highly recommend it to even experienced cooks! :) Amazon’s got it: http://www.amazon.com/Boil-Water-Food-Network-Kitchens/dp/0696226863