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Best cookbook for a wedding present?


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  And I always turn to my vintage Joy of Cooking.  Good heavens - there's an illustration on how to skin a squirrel in there!  Yes - it will answer vurtually any question anyone might ever have!

I learned to skin a squirrel at my daddy's knee. Mom would stew it up and serve it with fried okra (one of God's great creations), but she wouldn't eat it. I had no idea they put that sort of useful information into cookbooks until I spent a year in Boston and had to convince some co-workers that yes, Virginia, rednecks do eat squirrel!

As for our newlyweds, I find that of the gross of cookbooks I have lining my shelves, I go to Kamman's wonderful 1200-page New Making of a Cook anytime I have a question about basics.

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Great suggestions here. I use Bittman's book all the time, along with Julia and Jacques Cooking At Home, which is a beautiful volume. Another recent cookbook addition which has simple yet elegant and delicious recipes in French Food at Home. It's a slimmer volume, but you could add in a couple of nice champagne flutes and a bottle of NV champagne or a set of linen napkins to round out the gift.

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I use Bittman's book all the time, along with Julia and Jacques Cooking At Home, which is a beautiful volume.

You've certainly all convinced me to check out Bittman's book!

I have Julia and Jacques Cooking At Home, and I love it too (Jacques' recipe for pot roast is simply awesome) -- but I decided not to consider it for budget reasons. While they do make plenty of things affordable for the kids, I can't imagine that they'll be able to afford the serious cuts of meat for a while. Nor does it expect that its readers are newbies in the kitchen.

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I'm doing just that idea, jaymes, for my daughter's wedding next month. I'm including her favorites, as well as the items i'm putting together for the reception appetizer table and for the bridesmaid's lunch i'm giving her. She'll be really surprized and i'm sure she'll love it.

Stop Family Violence

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I'd also like to recommend the Good Housekeeping Cookbook that is in the form of a binder so you can remove and add pages.

It sounds like your biggest concern is giving them something they will really use, which is so nice. My mom gave this to me when I moved out on my own, and I use it at least twice a month. It has measurement and conversion charts, and recipes for the simplest things that most cookbooks assume you already know, like the temperature and time it takes to roast everything, and even explains different types of meat. It's the book I pull out when I'm in the mood to cook but not to go shopping for any more ingredients, I can always find something that requires only what I already have in my pantry. It has fancier recipes, too, and covers everything from main courses, side dishes and desserts, to candy, cakes and drinks.

I also like the idea that I can add pages to it as I expand my own repertoire, as they can do together as the years pass. It's become the filing cabinet for all of the scribbled down recipes I tend to accumulate.

It may not be the most visually stunning book you can get, but I proudly keep it out on my own counter.

Enjoy the wedding, and good luck with the gift!

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I don't know if you've chosen your book yet, but if not, check out James Peterson's Essentials of Cooking. It'd been a long time since I'd looked through it, and I'd forgotten how much great information it contains. A big plus is lots of photographs, not of finished dishes, but of techniques. If the couple is interested in learning to cook rather than just following recipes, this would be a great choice.

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Yes! La Varenne Pratique is excellent for beginners and the pics are really good... it was my first serious book about food (and in Swedish! I only just realised that Kokkonsten (The Art of Cooking) is actually La Varenne). It can be too detailed or analytical for beginners who are just interested in cooking food, rather than knowing about food... just a thought.

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-- lamington a.k.a. Duncan Markham

The Gastronomer's Bookshelf - collaborative book reviews about all things food and wine

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I really recommend Bittman's book, too. It's good for beginners -- it gives a lot of details and then he also suggests some "improvisations" you can do, so it instills the confidence you need to start experimenting on your own. I gave this as a wedding gift to a friend last August (also a KitchenAid, but she's my best friend, so I don't recommend that for everyone). She never cooked anything other than grilled cheese before and now she's called me up to discuss recipes and ideas for (gasp) chicken breasts, etc. I think the book has really helped her along.

Also, Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" is a great book.

Jennie

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Italy The Beautiful by Lorenza de Medici. Great Recipes, gorgeous pictures.

Every recipe I'd ever need is in Escoffier. For me, it's the most straightforward, comprehensive (duh) book out there, but it might be bland for some.

The CIA's Garde Manger book. I open it daily. Thorough, informative, and a nice read as well.

Susanna Foo's has a great one. Squirrelled Sea Bass is delicious.

Yeah, French Laundry is alright, but it's 60 bucks. Then again, so is CIA:GM

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I tend to give both or one of the following:

Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything

Sally Schneider's A New Way to Cook

If there's been an expression of strong interest in vegetables:

Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

(I need to check out Dragonwagon's Passionate Vegetarian)

Over the weekend I picked up Mary Risley's The Tante Marie's Cooking School Cookbook. I've made a first pass through it & I'll start cooking from it this week. My hunch is that I'll end up giving this book as a gift.

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This is a little less conventional, but one of the first books I bought when moving from the dorms to an apartment was Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant. It's their 'ethnic' edition. Each chapter is a different cuisine. It's a great introduction to many different kinds of food and the ingredients are always inexpensive. I'm not even vegetarian, but it's still one of my favourites and has been consistently well-received giftwise.

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