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Her First Cookbook


hillvalley
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Thanks for all of the suggestions. I picked up How to Cook Everything for my sister last weekend. Started going through it the minute I got home and am probably going to have to pick up another copy so her's does not look used.

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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You can't go wrong with Joy of Cooking or Fannie Farmer.

I agree. Maybe it's just the way I grew up (I'm 62), but my mother used Joy and my grandmother in her early days attended the Boston Cooking School (Fannie Farmer.)

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a basic book; one of the first I bought 15 or so years ago is:

The New Doubleday Cookbook by Jean Anderson.

Some of the recipes are a little old-fashioned, but every one I've tried works very well. Lots of basic cooking and food info (parts of a cow, storage time of foods, etc); I still turn to it often. The nice thing about it being 'old-fashioned' is that if you want a recipe for 'turkey pot pie' or 'peanut butter cookies' you can find it in here (both good by the way). Have given this book to several newleyweds and it has always been a success. A good start. (recipes are relatively simple and easy to follow; not lots of estoreric (for a beginner) ingredients).

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I'm going to go against the grain and suggest a non-basic cookbook.

I think a 'celebrity chef' type cookbook that has some really easy recipes would be perfect for this cook, as it sounds like a positive cooking experience would be absolutely key to helping her get the correct foot forward.

I will even go as far as reccomending one of J. Oliver's from the Naked Chef days. Reason: Simple, quick tasty preparations. Once she has some postive experiences with Jamie's simple techniques, I suspect her view of cooking will change dramatically. There are few things as wonderful as the amazement on someone's face when you prepare a fantastically tasty dish for them.

I have Escoffier on my night-table, but I have actually made cooked quite a bit more from Jamie's book than Escoffier's. There's a chickpea and leek soup in one of his that's so simple you'd laugh, but is absolutely delicious.

After a few ooh's and aah's at the simple technique cooking, you may find her buying her own copy of "On Food and Cooking." :wink:

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  • 7 months later...

I know I'm a bit late to the thread, but there's never not a time to recommend a great and new cookbook:

Lyn Hall's Cookery Course-elegant, simple, accessible, clear, beautiful photographs, really just a lovely book, friendly and professional, utterly unpretentious, full of both astute precision and the message to enjoy!

With a forward by Nigel Slater, published by Conran Octopus Ltd./ Octopus Publishing Group.

Cheers

Truffle

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We drove down to L.A. when my son turned 21 so I could take him out for his first legal drink. One extra gift I added on that birthday was a copy of "Joy of Cooking." It's the only gift I'm sure he'll have left 10 years from now. I'm an opinionated SOB and I'm not a Bittman fan. On the other hand, whenever I've needed an idea on something and been unsure where to turn, Joy of Cooking has not let me down.

If I were to go in an untraditional direction on cookbooks I'd choose AB's - "I'm Just Here For the Food."

Charles a food and wine addict - "Just as magic can be black or white, so can addictions be good, bad or neither. As long as a habit enslaves it makes the grade, it need not be sinful as well." - Victor Mollo

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My first cookbook was The Kitchen Survival Guide by Lora Brody. I liked it very much. However, this was 10 years ago and I was college age; the book might seem to talk down to an adult. She seems to be writing for people leaving their parents' home for the first time, and can be a little cutesy, i.e. "Having a manual cleaning oven does not mean that someone named Manuel is going to clean your oven." (paraphrased)

But she talks a lot about different ingredients, and what needs to be refrigerated, and has recipes for staples such as boiled eggs, fried eggs, macaroni salad, hamburgers, as well as some "fancy" but easier "company" dishes. I LOVED her apricot poppyseed muffins made with apricot baby food. I lent or gave away or lost this book but if I saw it at a garage sale I'd buy it again.

Rachel Sincere
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I once read a big thick book by James Beard. His love of good food shone through and it reminds me to go to the library tomorrow and get it again.

Martial.2,500 Years ago:

If pale beans bubble for you in a red earthenware pot, you can often decline the dinners of sumptuous hosts.

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  • 1 year later...

Digging up an old thread....

Since more than a year has passed since the last post on this, have there been any "must have" cookbooks for a complete newbie (that would be me) to the kitchen? How to Cook Everything & Joy of Cooking seem to be the two staples. Anything else?

Didn't see another thread quite like this one, but if I missed it, I certainly would appreciate being pointed in the right direction!

Thanks!

-TigerLily

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Julia Child's The Way to Cook and Mastering the Art of French Cooking are two of my all-time favorites. :biggrin:

Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Our goddaughter was just confirmed. I pondered and pondered and pondered a gift. I didn't want to get her yet another cross (she got 4 of them) or something that would sit on her dresser to collect dust.

So, I found myself in a bookstore, and Julia's The Way To Cook and Baking with Julia lept out at me. She has just discovered the kitchen, and I can't tell you how happy she was to get these two books. At the dinner, all of the Women Of My Age were all over these books. Not a traditional confirmation present, but appropriate for the occasion and the confirmand.

I still stand by these two books as benchmarks.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I think a refreshing way to start someone into cooking can be found in Appetite by Nigel Slater.  The only challenge may be the semi-British bent towards language and some recipes.

I like his approach to cooking: stop worrying about times and measurements.  Take some stuff, cook for a while, eat.  Learn and do again, but different....  The anti-Cook's Illustrated.

Anyone else read this book and find it refreshing and/or interesting?

I second the suggestion - such a wonderful book.

btw, Slater just published a new book "Kitchen Diaries"

Edited by helenas (log)
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Have you thought about getting her a cooking class gift certificate instead? Most cooking schools have beginner techniques classes and I would think she would get more out of class that a cookbook.

My first cookbook was The Silver Palate. I was an English major in college, and I used to go to a "book barn" in rural Virginia to get a lot of the Penguin classic literature paperbacks that I needed for my classes because they were MUCH less than my campus bookstore. I picked up The Silver Palate from the book sale for about $3 on an overstock table and I would put stickies on the pages of the things that I wanted to cook when I graduated and had my own apartment. (This was circa. 1987.)

And I did end up cooking my way through that book in the first few years after graduation! I lost the cookbook in one of many subsequent moves and ended up having to buy another copy. But, if only for nostalgic purposes, it's still one of my favorites.

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  • 7 months later...
The New Cook by Mary Berry and Marlena Spieler (who happens to be a member of eG).  This is a fabulous book for someone who knows absolutely NOTHING: it has color photos of every piece of equipment, every ingredient, every technique discussed. Very clear directions and explanations. Including how to peel potatoes, make a French omelet and salsa bolognese, prepare apples for pies -- all the really basic stuff that those other books describe well but don't actually show you. Just a wonderful, wonderful book.

I'm looking for a cookbook for a friend who wants to learn to cook, but is currently hopeless. To give you an idea of her hopelessness, she bought some asparagus and I suggested she keep it in water. When I went to her place last night, I discovered she had taken my advice, but she submerged the asparagus in a flat shallow dish. Granted, I did not tell her to stand the asparagus in water, but I kind of thought she'd understand since her family used to own a big farm with an attached vegetable store.

I have HTCE and I use it a lot, but it's too advanced for her (which tells you a bit about her level...). She needs pictures...lots of them, so I thought the above might be good. However, according to amazon.com, it's out-of-print (and is also called "Cooking Essentials"). The same authors have another cookbook called "Classic Home Cooking" but it seems like it might be a little more advanced (not advanced, but advanced for her).

Are there any other suggestions out there?

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This one is very good: Better Homes and Gardens' New Cook Book. It is ring-bound, which makes it very practical. It contains a great range of dishes, all categorized and organized. These recipes are all true and tested up through the years, updated with each new release. Pretty much fool-proof.

Out of all the different books I have gone through, this is the one I wish I could have started out with. It would have made my cooking experience that much more enjoyable, educational, and -- well, I would simply have progressed that much faster, and been a far better cook today... :smile:

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This one is very good: Better Homes and Gardens' New Cook Book. It is ring-bound, which makes it very practical. It contains a great range of dishes, all categorized and organized. These recipes are all true and tested up through the years, updated with each new release. Pretty much fool-proof.

Out of all the different books I have gone through, this is the one I wish I could have started out with. It would have made my cooking experience that much more enjoyable, educational, and -- well, I would simply have progressed that much faster, and been a far better cook today...  :smile:

I hadn't even thought of that one! I have one of the older ones, and I quite like it for certain things. In terms of the recipes, I think it would be great for her. But does it have pictures? She doesn't so much need pictures of finished dishes, but she needs pictures of ingredients and techniques (dice vs chop vs mince, for example).

She's quite smart, so she could easily follow a book, but because she really is a very new cook (despite being in her 30s), she's a little nervous in the kitchen. She did her very first baked potatoes a couple of weeks ago and was thrilled with her success!

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America's Test Kitchen has a new cookbook out; also ring bound. My mom checked it out of the library but decided against buying it because it does seem a bit too elementary for her, Diana or me (but we aren't beginners, either!). In addition to a ton of photos, there is also a lot of advice on ingredients, equipment, etc.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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When my daughter married, I bought her a slew of cookbooks to start her own cooking library.

I know she consulted them from time to time, but nothing really got her sparked.

Until I gave her Jacques Pepin's "Fast Food My Way."

There are beautiful photos, simple and easy directions (for the most part), menu suggestions, some appetizer ideas that just require assembling -- dishes that look gorgeous, taste great, and appear as though one has been in the kitchen all day.

She's busy -- teaches junior high Spanish, coaches volleyball and basketball -- so anything that gets her interested is a plus. The book is now filled with her notes and observations, and there are sticky notes on pages with recipes she's particularly enjoyed and ones she wants to try.

"Everything seems fun and 'do-able,'" she says.

So, while the other books are excellent references once you get going, this book has been the stimulus.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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America's Test Kitchen has a new cookbook out; also ring bound.  My mom checked it out of the library but decided against buying it because it does seem a bit too elementary for her, Diana or me (but we aren't beginners, either!).  In addition to a ton of photos, there is also a lot of advice on ingredients, equipment, etc.

I know there is a love-hate relationship between members and CI but for a new cook who is intelligent I can't think of a better all-around book than The New Best Recipe. Yeah they can go and on about the whys and hows but for someone who knows nothing about cooking this can be very valuable. There are lots of tips, lots of line drawings, some discussion of equipment and ingredients. What it lacks in inspiration and adventure it makes up for in good solid recipes and an intelligent, beginner cook will soon learn to riff off the basics.

Edited to add that this is not the ring-bound book that snowangel is referring to (The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)! But I do wish they had made The New Best Recipe ring-bound. :smile:

Edited by Anna N (log)

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I hadn't even thought of that one!  (Better Homes and Gardens' New Cook Book.)

...

But does it have pictures?  She doesn't so much need pictures of finished dishes, but she needs pictures of ingredients and techniques (dice vs chop vs mince, for example). ... 

Yes, it certainly does have pictures. While I don't remember off the top of my head, if chop vs mince is specifically shown, there are plenty of pictures that describes techniques and methods -- how a sauce should look, how to hold things etc.

America's Test Kitchen's Best New Recipies is also very good, but the copy that I have (not ring bound) doesn't have much in the way of picturers per se -- they use illustrations instead; ink drawings. Also, it contains far more information than Better Homes and Gardens.

I think cook books lean towards one of two different camps: How-to books, and Why-books. How-to books contains loads of recipes, but less information about why things are done a certain way. Why-books contain fewer recipes, but loads of info on exactly why things are done a certain way -- the physics, chemestry and mechanics of cooking, if you will.

Alton Brown and the Test Kitchen books lean towards the Why camp, while the Better Homes and Garden is slightly more towards the How-to camp. Now, it totally depends on the temperament of a new cook, as to what they like (patience, attention span, focus, nerdy tendencies) but generally, I think a new cook might like a how-to book first, just to be able to cook a few dishes successfully -- and then move on to the why-books...

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However, according to amazon.com, it's out-of-print  <The New Cook by Mary Berry and Marlena Spieler >

If you settle on this as the one you want,

try eBay for a used copy.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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