I have a serious problem, a legitimate weakness for collecting cookbooks. I read them like people read mystery novels or classic literature. I thoroughly enjoy them. I love the pictures and the recipes and the shared techniques and the background stories. I like imagining on what occasion I can make the prospective recipes and with what company I would enjoy them. I have even gone as far as cataloging many recipes in a computer database to be able to quickly retrieve recipes by ingredient. For example, let’s say I got a great deal on some sweet, juicy, organic blackberries. Well, then I would go through my database and pull up my file on fruit. I would then proceed to blackberries, and sift through every pie, cobbler, muffin and scone, etc recipe until I found one that sounded interesting. I would then see which of my books it was from, what page I can find it on, if it has a picture, if I made it before and, if so, what I thought of it. I realize this is totally nerdy of me.
Do they have cookbook reading clubs? We should start one. I just read Three Sisters Bake. It almost brought me to tears (not kidding, I should get out more). I can completely relate to the desire of starting a café with a sister. I’m not sure about the black pudding, but I’m not Scottish either. I’d try it though. Their rustic baking pictures are just my style, and I can’t wait to make their soups.
Currently I am reading Simply Delish by Jessica Merchant. Her food sounds fun and flavorful. I need to get some whole wheat pastry flour. And she makes toast with toppings look like a whole new cuisine. Her excitement is contagious; I should drink a kale smoothie and go to the gym.
My at present favorites are: Pioneer Woman, I am waiting with anticipation for her new book to come out this fall; Barefoot Contessa, and Better Homes and Gardens. All of them are easy for a home cook like me to follow, and I am almost always happy with the results I get from them. Pioneer Woman cooks with a practicality that I can relate to. She almost always cooks with ingredients I have on hand. Her food, I find, in general is simple and scrumptious just like she claims it is. And she takes pictures every step of the way, which is perfect for me, because I know what it’s supposed to look like as I go along! I’m a fan. Barefoot Contessa is great for me. She measures everything. When I make her roasted chicken or leg of lamb, I feel fancy and triumphant. Just follow the instructions! I refer to her recipes and entertaining tips often. She has this simple sophistication. Maybe I’m persuaded by the pictures of her Hampton’s home and garden? And lastly, whenever, I am unhappy with a particular dish and variations there of, I go back to Better Homes and Gardens. It’s like going back to the basics of tried and true. For example, meatloaf, all the sudden it’s too spicy, or oozing cheese, or wrapped in soggy bacon. Wha? Let’s remember why I do or do not like this dish in the first place. Oh yeah, that’s more like how mom made it! Classic red and white checkered, perfect for novices like me, cookbook.
I have a few stashed under my coffee table, a couple on some side tables, probably at any given time one on my nightstand and a whole bookcase full of fun, colorful, black and white, fancy, low country, healthy, not-so-healthy, local, exotic, soul, old and new cookbooks. Ahhh, life is good.