I've been inching up my courage to write and post my first “real” Chatterbox post... so here goes!
I love to read, and I love to cook, too; and I REALLY love to read cookbooks. Here are a few of my favorites – please click the “Comments” link above or below to share your own favorite cookbooks!
The Bean Bible: A Legumaniac's Guide to Lentils, Peas, and Every Edible Bean on the Planet!, by Aliza Green – Everything you ever thought you'd ever want to know about legumes - plus lot of stuff you've probably never even THOUGHT to think! :) This book is like an encyclopedia of all-things-bean. The recipes are a bit fancier than I'd be inclined to use (some use ingredients like truffles and caviar), though I've found them to be good for inspiration. I especially enjoy Ms. Green's history of legume consumption - did you know that several famous Roman personages were named for beans? I also enjoyed her exhaustive descriptions of scores of different kinds of legumes... I'm thinking that scarlet runner beans might be a good addition to the garden this year, both for eye appeal and for later munching (see what I mean about inspiration?).
Good Food Book: Living the High-carbohydrate Way, by Jane Brody – A good, basic cookbook. Peter's grandfather gave me a copy when we were first married, and I've put it to hard use ever since – the pages are beginning to fall out, but it's still one of my favorites. Ms. Brody was/is a strong advocate for healthy AND delicious food, with emphasis on high quality, fiber-filled carbohydrates; in this cookbook she describes how one can eat healthily without resorting to consumption of hay and twigs. She basically converts “normal” favorites” to high fiber, low-fat foods. The recipes aren't all vegetarian, but can easily be adapted to meatless cuisine. One of my favorite recipes from this book is “Cocktail Knishes,” cute, little carb bombs of tasty dough with a mashed potato or bulgur wheat filling. Link: http://www.recipelink.com/msgbrd/board_3/2006/MAR/10068.html
The Joy of Cooking, by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker – My mother-in-law gave me a copy of the 40th anniversary edition shortly after Peter and I were married. I love this book! Besides the recipes, Ms. Rombauer and Ms. Becker explain basic ingredients and methods. This book taught me how to set a table properly (though I must admit that I have to look it up again every time it's necessary to be “proper” at dinnertime) and how to bake a basic cake. They also include lots of information that I'm never likely to use, but is interesting to read about, like how to butcher and cook a bear or how to prepare an “Eskimo frozen dinner” (''Kill and gut a medium-sized walrus. Net several flocks of small migrating birds and remove one specific small feather from each wing feather from each wing. Store birds whole in interior of walrus. Sew up walrus and freeze. Two years or so later, find the cache - if you can - notify clan of a feast, partially thaw walrus. Slice and serve.”).
The Nero Wolfe Cookbook, by Rex Stout and the Editors of the Viking Press; Foreword by Fritz Brenner (a fantastic chef who lives in Mr. Stout's imagination)! Most of the recipes are too fancy to be practical, but I have a lot of fun reading and re-reading this book. I discovered Rex Stout's mystery novels in the mid '80's and have been hooked ever since. Nero Wolfe is a genius detective, who loves gourmet food (and weighs a seventh of a ton because of this love) – he has a live-in chef, Fritz Brenner. His “leg-man,” Archie Goodwin, isn't as devoted to his palate, but certainly appreciates Mr. Brenner's skills as well. This cookbook is filled with scrippets of Mr. Stout's “Nero Wolfe” books, followed by recipes for the many foods described in these novels. A lot of fun for Nero Wolfe fans!
Anything by Bert Greene! (Bert Greene's Kitchen Bouquets, Greene on Greens, The Grains Cookbook, The Store Cookbook, Honest American Fare, Cooking for Giving) – I love all of his books. Mr. Greene was a gentleman who enjoyed cooking, life, and people; he wrote about all of these things in such an addictive, cheerfully conversational way, that I read his cookbooks over and over, strictly for entertainment! Reading his books is somewhat akin to attending a boisterous family reunion – even if you don't know anyone when you first arrive at the party, you will soon know everyone's life history! Mr. Greene knows how to make his guests comfortable – and highly entertained to boot!!
I guess that's enough from me. :) Please post any favorites you'd like to share!
If anyone would like to post a guest Chatterbox column, just let me know! I like to think that I'm not the only big-mouth in the family! :)