Saturday, January 23, 2010

Books, Books, Books


I was being very industrious yesterday morning and unpacked all my cookbooks. (I really AM almost done unpacking, really!) But  then I ended up leafing through the books and not putting them away. And then I cracked open a cookbook I’ve owned for several years, dragged across the entire country and never actually looked at it  before. Bad. Looking at the stacks of books I realized that there are a bunch of them I’ve never opened and even more than I’ve looked at but never cooked from. That made me kinda sad. So, as much as I hate making pronouncements like this (because I pretty much never follow through), I’ve decided to try to make something out of each of these books, one recipe a week that I’ve never tried, and post about it.

Do you do that? Buy a cookbook and never actually use it? I have lots of books that I was SO EXCITED about in the store, but once they made it to my shelf I would forget about them, or pick other recipes before theirs. Because I owned the book, it wasn’t going anywhere, and I could make that recipe anytime.  Whatever! Anyway, I feel like that’s probably a pretty common story. I’m fairly certain my mom has cookbooks she’s never opened! She’s kind of a cookbook junkie. Wanna see?


Oh.My.Gosh. LOOK at all those cookbooks! She’s such a good sport though, I called and asked for a pic and got this within 5 minutes. Thanks, Mom! But she made the mistake of sending this one too, because it was on the memory card and she thought it was funny and that I wouldn’t post it. Ooops. Posted it. Sorry, Mommy!


Hahahahahaha! Just got home from a run, it looks like! And BUSTED eating peanut butter, I don’t see any chocolate chips on it, I know she likes to do that :) 

Anywho, here are some of my cookbooks I was pawing through yesterday. . . . .


Perfect example. I haven’t made a single recipe out of any book in this stack. Most of them I haven’t even opened. Sorry, Mom. She collected them for me, and I was excited to receive them, but then they were put away on my cookbook shelf and eventually forgotten about. I found an interesting recipe in that top one, I’ll be making it soon!


This is the cookbook I really started cooking from. My mom bought it for me because it has lots of pictures and she usually doesn’t make a recipe that doesn’t have a picture to go with it. Doesn’t surprise me in the least that she got SO into food blogs and blogging!


This one is from my first elementary school! My mom says (and I heartily agree) that you get the best recipes from these kinds of cookbooks. The ones put together by schools or churches or women's groups. Everyone wants their recipe to really shine so they only submit the best.


Okay, avert your eyes all you Rachael haters. (Did you know there are entire websites dedicated to people’s loathing of this poor girl? Get a life, peeps.) I think this is one of the best cookbooks for someone who is just starting out cooking. All the recipes are made with 10 ingredients (plus staples) or less, which almost automatically makes them easier, fewer things to screw up! Also makes them fairly economical. And they really are easy and yummy. Three of my favorite recipes of all time are in this book.


This one I stole from my mom. Shhhhhh, don’t tell her, I don’t want to give it back yet! Two years ago I set out to find the perfect (to my mind) chocolate chip cookie. I gave up after a couple of months. And I didn’t try all the recipes in this book yet. Earlier this year I came across, and made, this one. To me, it IS THE BEST CHOCOLATE CHIPPER EVER. The end.


This whole book is just eye candy. And I’ve never made anything out of it. I’ve looked through it over and over. But the recipes always called for things I didn’t have at the time, like a double boiler, shaved chocolate, mesh sieves, marzipan, or a pastry brush. Now I have all those things (and then some) and I still haven’t tried any of them. A crime. That’s what it is.


My sister-in-law, Kristi, gave me this for Christmas one year. I really like it and I’ve made a TON of these soups. I end up adapting most of the recipes I’ve tried, but the basic recipes are really good!


I’m unreasonably prejudiced against this one. Because it has Britney Spears on the cover. Yeah, I’m a dork. Some of the recipes (like the one on the cover) look pretty good. The best one, though is the one from Joan Rivers. I’ll copy it out for you, you’ll love it!

Joan Rivers


We toast comedienne Joan Rivers for her culinary honesty. Joan prefers white bread, but you can use whole grain, as we did.

Take two slices of white bread and place them in a toaster. Press down the toaster handle. Wait 2 minutes, or until the toast pops up. After removing toast, spread with butter or margarine to taste.

*For holidays and special occasions, raisin bread my be substituted. For these special occasions we call it ‘Joan Rivers’ Holiday Toast’.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I love it!!!! So I guess I have made a recipe from this book! Ha! There’s my recipe for this week! LOL!


I love this one! It goes nicely with my Baking with Julia!


I really wanted to love this one. ‘The only cupcake compendium you’ll ever need’. Hmph. The recipes themselves are, sadly, not great. One of them turned out like ROCKS, most are completely lackluster in flavor. But I will say this, if you have your own base recipes to substitute, it IS full of great ideas for cupcakes. Which is my sneaking suspicion for how this book came about. A couple of people sat around thinking up awesome cupcakes but didn’t take the time to road test any of the actual recipes. Most of them are just versions of a base cupcake, one that doesn’t turn out that great.

checkout aisle

My mom is addicted to these, she has about a million. The little cookbooks they have in the checkout aisles of the grocery store. She doesn’t buy them there though, she’s a smart cookie. Her local thrift store sells them for, like, a quarter. There are usually some clever ideas in them, but I can’t imagine paying five bucks a  pop for them! Yeesh!


This is such a cool book. I haven’t given it the time it deserves. There are some really bizarre recipes in here. Like ‘Flummery’. Here’s the entry:

FLUMMERY. A kind of custard pudding or blanc mange. A Colonial dessert which used to be made in Old Virginia to “please the eye as well as the palate” and sometimes the eye had the preference. (HAHAHAHA!) Flummeries, elaborately decorated, were important dishes upon every well-set Virginia table.

The recipe it gives is made with grape juice. Cooked grape juice. Which I suspect is going to take on a not-so-flattering hue. It sounds kinda gross and intriguing at the same time. I might make it!


And this one. This is my ‘blog-before-I-had-a-blog’. My mom found the binder for me at her thrift store and I put a bunch of my favorite recipes in it. But, like my blog, it is woefully incomplete. Somehow the things I make the most aren’t even in it! (Or on my blog!) So irritating! I’ll get right on that. Someday. Yeesh.

So, there you go, a glimpse into my (and my mom’s) cookbook collection. What is YOUR favorite cookbook?


Carol said...

You're such a good writer! I loved your post, even though you did post my peanut butter picture! I need to work on going through my cookbooks more too!

Jennie said...

Hee hee hee! Sorry 'bout that, but it was too good not to! That WALL 'O COOKBOOKS sort of intimidates me a little! We'll have to try and make a dent in it when I come visit!

Miranda said...

I want to know what your three favorite recipes from the Rachel Ray cookbook are, Jennie! I have that one and have never made anything from it (and many other of my cookbooks), but I look through it and think about it on occasion. Give me a place to start!

Jennie said...

Miranda, Number one is the very first recipe . . . Inside-out Pizza-dilla Margeritas. YUM! Embarrassingly easy, quick, and just oh, so good! You have to use fresh mozzarella though, it loses it's special quality without it. (Believe me, I've tried many variations out of lack of correct ingredients! lol!)

The other two are impressive enough to serve to guests. I have, many times and gotten rave reviews. (So take that, Rachael haters! lol!)

Page 48 - Spinach and Artichoke Tortellini I've made this many times when I've needed to take someone a dinner. It tastes just like those dips you get in restaurants, so if you get a loaf of crusty bread and a big salad with it, it feels like a restaurant dinner :)

And page 238 - Montalcino Chicken with Figs and Buttered Gnocchi. OMGosh, that buttered gnocchi is to DIE for! Reese will eat it by the pound if I let him! I made this for a houseful of people the night before my c-section with Amelia :) So it's easy enough that an exhausted, puffy, pregnant girl can make it for a large crowd!

Don't bother with the Leeky Chicken. Bleuch, one of the few recipes from RR that totally bombed in our house. Probably doesn't help any that we don't care for leeks, but it was generally just lacking in flavor anyhow.

Anonymous said...

Very good journey and experience!