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Twelve Months of Cookbooks

(Almost) Twelve Months of Cookbooks|August – “The Joy of Cooking” by Irma S. Rombauer (and others)

I’m going to be totally honest…

First, I’ve been horribly remiss in posting once a month about a favorite “can’t live without it” cookbook.  This isn’t me just ignoring the blog (although I seem to be doing a fairly good job there too) but it’s because…well, I just don’t have 12 cookbooks I can’t live without.  I have 12 cookbooks that like well enough for various reasons, but not 12 that I’d haul to a desert island with me (not quite sure what I’d do with them there anyway).

Twelve Months of Cookbooks: June|”Cook’s Illustrated” (multiple authors)

This month’s cookbook is a magazine.

Which is kind of cheating, I guess, but I got my cooking start from a magazine – trying to replicate a rhubarb and strawberry tart on the cover of a Food & Wine my boyfriend brought home – and I’ve had so many subscriptions to food magazines (Gourmet, Sauveur, Food & Wine, Sunset, Bon Appetit…) that I’ve come to feel cooking magazines are as indispensable as cookbooks for learning.

Twelve Months of Cookbooks: April|”Quick & Easy Indian Cooking” by Madhur Jaffrey

Is that May over the horizon?

This month, we’re taking a look at Madhur Jaffrey’s excellent “Quick & Easy Indian Cooking.”  This is not a book I would ordinarily be inclined toward – if you ask anyone who has ever had to clean up for me after I cook, my style is neither “quick” nor is it “easy.”*  I like to think my painstaking method of food prep lends itself to “authentic,” but that’s probably my own fanciful idea rather than an accurate reflection of reality.  Digressions and self-depreciations aside, my husband is the one who bought this book.  As with so many things in our home, it’s a welcome addition and another reason I’m very glad I live with him.

Twelve Months of Cookbooks: March|”Les Halles Cookbook” by Anthony Bourdain

Each monthly post seems to get closer and closer to the end of the month…

But I digress.  This month, another fantastic cookbook.  Well that’s not surprising.  This is supposed to be a list of fantastic cookbooks.  This one, though, has a quality I find to be somewhat rare in cookbooks.  This one is sheer fun.

I came to this book at a time when I needed some lightening up.  Seriously.  We had moved to Los Angeles about a year earlier and I was in the throes of a full-on life change; new city, new love, new job, and new perspective.

Twelve Months of Cookbooks: February|”Ratio” by Michael Ruhlman

For such a simple book, it has a very long title!

Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking is my current favorite book.*  A couple of years back I heard Ruhlman on The Splendid Table talking about…well, proselytizing really, about the magic of learning ratios in cooking.  It was a “you had me at hello” moment.**  And it was a pretty serious turning point in the way I thought about cooking and food.

Twelve Months of Cookbooks: January|”The Way To Cook” by Julia Child


My husband had an interesting and excellent idea recently.  Knowing that people enjoy lists and recommendations, he suggested that I make a list of “must have” cookbooks for the blog, explaining why each book is on the list.

Genius!  And I’m planning on taking it one step further.  Each month this year I’m going to review one of the books in my collection that I think is a “must have,” and at the end of 2012, I’ll have a list of 12 cookbooks that are really stellar.  At least, that’s the hope.