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Which Cookbooks DON'T You Use & Why?


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I collect cookbooks. Some, even, that I know I'll never use but grabbed because they make me laugh. I found 'The Modern Family Cookbook', by Meta Given in a thrift shop here. First edition was in 1942; the one I have came out in 1961. It has a meal planners creed and tips for being a good housewife, plus recipes like Prune Whip(1 and 2) and a section on molded salads. I don't think I'll ever use it(there are actually some good recipes in it) but it's fun to look thru.

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I'd like to make a pitch for Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet. There are several outstanding recipes in that book (larb, tom kar gai, a great pomelo salad, lots and lots more) that are pretty straightforward. Everything I've made in it has been outstanding. Give it a try!

yah, i second this. I was absolutely shocked that people don't use it. i'm addicted to it and there are tons of easy recipes. i'm thinking specifically of a chicken and potato curry and a chicken stir fry. and these are recipes that work, it's much more than just eye candy.

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re:Diana Kennedy- maybe the recipe requiring blood sausage shouldn't be the first thing you try. Her long discussion about beans, how to refry them (or rather well-fry them), etc is priceless. A lot of the salsas look simple on paper and end up being glorious. The Cuisnies of Mexico is a little pedantic with that Mastering the Art of French Cooking style but the others are pretty straightforward and she often suggests subs for hard to get items.

Now Zarela strikes me as every thing Mexican is good and everything Gringo is bad and her tone can drive me nuts. The Oaxaca book was good at the time but now seems a little superficial. It's a good introduction but now it seems time to go a lot deeper. I can't get past the cover of Veracruz (talk about me being superficial!)

But really, Diana Kennedy deserves your attention again if you're interested in Mexican food.

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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Interesting how a couple of chef's cookbooks were mentioned a few times. Someone said about Keller "method over ingredients." In another thread I read Alice Water's style was compared to "shopping not cooking" by another chef.

I suppose that both cookbooks have there place. Keller introduced some French cuisine gastronomique technques to the American homecook. Alice Waters introduced (preached) about fresh, local, seasonal ingredients.

Both cookbooks are primarily vehicles to promote their respective restaurants and their visions. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with their visions or that they didn't contribute to the American culinary scene. I'm saying that the primary aim of these cookbooks is not necessarily to teach cooking. They are monuments to the chefs. I think that Keller's books fail as cookbooks, because he does not offer realistic options and substitutions for the homecook. What exactly is the number of crew in his restaurant kitchen? Even Keller doesn't cook Keller at home. How could he? But then again his books might of interest to someone who wants to learn finer/fussier techniques so they work on that level. As for Waters, the "shopping not cooking" comparison keeps coming to mind. It's all about the ingredients, well there is very little method to be taught and you better get those exact ingredients. Of course she has contributed greatly to the wider availability of those ingredients. Good for her.

Both of them are like fingernails on a blackboard to me.

With that said, I've never cooked anything from the Culinaris series. I just look at the pictures.

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It's not to say that I wouldn't ever use the recipes from Maynard--The Adventures of a Bacon Curer, it's just that it's pretty unlikely as this sample might attest:

'Penitentiary Dry Salted Bacon for 1000 lb Bacon':

16 lbs fine salt

16 lbs bay salt

6 lbs muscavado sugar

12 oz saltpetre

6 oz Jamaican pepper

6 oz ginger

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. It was a very fat bacon but the prison diet needed that as they had a lot of greens and in the bacon they needed a bit of flavour.

Clearly more ingredient-driven than Keller.

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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It's not to say that I wouldn't ever use the recipes from Maynard--The Adventures of a Bacon Curer, it's just that it's pretty unlikely as this sample might attest:

'Penitentiary Dry Salted Bacon for 1000 lb Bacon':

16 lbs fine salt

16 lbs bay salt

6 lbs muscavado sugar

12 oz saltpetre

6 oz Jamaican pepper

6 oz ginger

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. It was a very fat bacon but the prison diet needed that as they had a lot of greens and in the bacon they needed a bit of flavour.

Clearly more ingredient-driven than Keller.

Costco is the place to shop for the ingredients in the recipe.

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re:Diana Kennedy- maybe the recipe requiring blood sausage shouldn't be the first thing you try. Her long discussion about beans, how to refry them (or rather well-fry them), etc is priceless. A lot of the salsas look simple on paper and end up being glorious. The Cuisnies of Mexico is a little pedantic with that Mastering the Art of French Cooking style but the others are pretty straightforward and she often suggests subs for hard to get items............

But really, Diana Kennedy deserves your attention again if you're interested in Mexican food.

I was specifically referring to her book "The Art of Mexican Cooking," not "The Cuisines of Mexico" which I also own. I find the latter much more cooking friendly.

Sorry if there was a mix up.

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I was specifically referring to her book "The Art of Mexican Cooking," not "The Cuisines of Mexico" which I also own.  I find the latter much more cooking friendly.

Sorry if there was a mix up.

No- it's just that La Fifi's follow up seemed to be more about DK in general, not just that book.

Try the roasted chicken with achiote paste and lard in Art of . It is SWELL!

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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My vote is for Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia.  I pick it up and look through it all the time and one day hope to be able to cook from it, but I am not there yet.

I would recommend buying it just to look at it, though.

We have it and it is lovely, but there is no room for it in our kitchen when it's open, and we already have several asian cookbooks in regular use.

Since we moved to a much smaller house last year I have actually started giving cookbooks away. Shocking I know.

Edit to say that was actually hjshorter speaking, not sashorter. Stupid laptop didn't log me in. :angry:

Edited by sashorter (log)

I'm your only friend

I'm not your only friend

But I'm a little glowing friend

But really I'm not actually your friend

But I am

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My mother bought me a "4 Ingredient" cookbook written by a couple of homemakers in Kerrville, Texas.

Some of the low-lights:

Tater Tot Tuna, Pineapple Ball (which curiously includes green bell pepper as one of the four ingredients), Quickie Hawaiian Pork (do me, Don Ho), Bourbon Pie (add one wife-beater uncle and simmer for hours), Lime Coke Salad (three words you should never hear together), Coke Roast (grab some Shasta and get ta marinatin'), Hot Dog Tacos (nothing like finely chopped animal parts covered in Pace and processed cheese), Koolaid Pie (you know, Koolaid already figures in “so many” of my household recipes that I never thought they would come up with yet another use for the magical powder), Chocolate Express (chocolate liqueur, gelatin, coffee, ice cream--this isn't "Chocolate Express," it's "Crap I Picked Up At 7-11 at 3 in the morning”).

“When I was dating and the wine list was presented to my male companion, I tried to ignore this unfortunate faux pas. But this practice still goes on…Closing note to all servers and sommeliers: please include women in wine selection. Okay?”--Alpana Singh, M.S.-"Alpana Pours"

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My comments about Kennedy were about her in general. I have read enough of what she has written and reports of what she has said that I can't get through her books without that attitude in the back of my mind. The whole "Englishwoman goes to Mexico and becomes renowned Mexican food snob" just gets to me. Funny thing is, the good Mexican cooks that I know think she is nuts. Zarela started out in Veracruz telling us why she had some prejudices, then how she got past it and discovered the food.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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My mother bought me a "4 Ingredient" cookbook written by a couple of homemakers in Kerrville, Texas.

Some of the low-lights:

Tater Tot Tuna, Pineapple Ball (which curiously includes green bell pepper as one of the four ingredients), Quickie Hawaiian Pork (do me, Don Ho), Bourbon Pie (add one wife-beater uncle and simmer for hours), Lime Coke Salad (three words you should never hear together), Coke Roast (grab some Shasta and get ta marinatin'), Hot Dog Tacos (nothing like finely chopped animal parts covered in Pace and processed cheese), Koolaid Pie (you know, Koolaid already figures in “so many” of my household recipes that I never thought they would come up with yet another use for the magical powder), Chocolate Express (chocolate liqueur, gelatin, coffee, ice cream--this isn't "Chocolate Express," it's "Crap I Picked Up At 7-11 at 3 in the morning”).

:wacko: It's entirely too early in the morning to be reading about that stuff.

Deb

Liberty, MO

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the one I bought myself that I'll probably never use is Jasper White's Cooking From New England. The recipes sound good, and they're like a lot of things I ate growing up, but now that I live in Colorado, most of the ingredients are not easy to find. Still, if I ever want to hold a clambake, they've got full instructions :-).

I never use Cooking From New England, but his Chowders book has a lot of great stuff. There should be a special purgatory for celebrity chef cookbooks--ours is the bottom shelf of the bookcase. We hang onto them because there's always ONE recipe that works (i.e. HerbFarm cookbook's pesto recipe, Bradley Ogden's corned beef recipe, Joel Robuchon's bacon and potato cake).

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Wow, I use Diana Kennedy's cookbook so often I've memorized a good 20% of it. I had the oldest one, which I then supplemented with Essential Cuisines, both of which have lots of do-able recipes. Fifi, she doesn't seem racist to me(?) Her tone reminds me a lot of Paula Wolfert's actually -- occasionally arrogant and prickly but very commited to the cuisine. Not someone I want to be married to, say, but a very reliable cooking resource. What did you read that gave your impression?

Cookbooks I've never used? I was given a set of cookbooks on Northern German/Schleswig/North Friesland cuisine. I need to sit down and translate them, then try to come up with reasonable substitutions for some of the fish. Or wait until we move there. No wait, I did make "Pharisaer": coffee, whipped cream and rum but that wasn't exactly challenging.

For some bizarre reason I bought "The vegan gourmet" at some point. (I had lots of vegan friends...) but I could have come up with most of those recipes on the fly without help, so it really wasn't worth it.

I've never made anything out of Chinese Gastronomy, but I have read it cover to cover. It's more about the philosophy than the recipes, anyway.

What about cookbooks you've outgrown? All Moosewood for me...I've given them all but one of them away. I should be able to find a taker for Enchanted Broccoli Forest...

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Foodie, I think you're thinking of Michel Guerard, author of "Cuisine Minceur".

I second Cookwise as not-terribly-tempting recipe-wise. Also, I've never used a recipe from a gift cookbook -- guess it really has to be my personal choice to work.

Chinese Gastronomy -- that's a blast from the past! I adored that when I was a teen-ager in the '70's. As I recall, the Sesame Peanut Sauce and Spongy Bean Curd were favorites. I ordered it out of print a couple of years ago and haven't used it. It's comforting to have it again though.

But when I think about it, I usually only try somewhere from 2 to 8 recipes out of a given book. And I'm not one of those talented "I never use a recipe", instinctive cooks -- in fact I am fairly awkward and unconfident in the kitchen and I heavily depend on recipes as a kind of crutch, I guess But another reason I seem to need lots of cookbooks is for inspiration. I guess recipes really work as a kind of abstract, almost pornographic, goad to get me off my butt and into the kitchen. And once I make something a few times and feel I've pretty much mastered it, I often drop it or teach my husband to cook it, so I can move onto something else. This is sounding increasingly dysfunctional as I write it, but there it is! I have some kind of culinary A.D.D. and the multiple cookbooks are part of this.

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My comments about Kennedy were about her in general. I have read enough of what she has written and reports of what she has said that I can't get through her books without that attitude in the back of my mind. The whole "Englishwoman goes to Mexico and becomes renowned Mexican food snob" just gets to me. Funny thing is, the good Mexican cooks that I know think she is nuts. Zarela started out in Veracruz telling us why she had some prejudices, then how she got past it and discovered the food.

Having grown up in LA, I'm practically half Mexican at this point. Writers who embrace a foreign cuisine oftentimes go overboard with "authenticity" (perhaps some of it has to do with insecurity regarding authority) and they can come off as arrogant and pedantic. It rubs me a little the wrong way too. I have visions of 19th century anthropologists.

Wow, I use Diana Kennedy's cookbook so often I've memorized a good 20% of it. I had the oldest one, which I then supplemented with Essential Cuisines, both of which have lots of do-able recipes. Fifi, she doesn't seem racist to me(?) Her tone reminds me a lot of Paula Wolfert's actually -- occasionally arrogant and prickly but very commited to the cuisine. Not someone I want to be married to, say, but a very reliable cooking resource. What did you read that gave your impression?

I'm also practically half North-African at this point. (I'm a woman with many halves. :biggrin:) At their best cookbooks written from a non-native perspective offer insights and details that someone wholly within might not notice. So they are very valuable in this sense.

If I wrote a Korean cookbook I might just give my recipes and talk about my family's culinary history. Whereas someone who is not Korean will probably study a range of recipes for a dish and offer up a comparitive analysis, asking questions and providing answers to things that just would not occur to me. Different perspectives for different readers.

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People give me gookbooks all the time. Once they learn I am a collector they seek out the obscure and weird (occasionally really weird).

The Cactus Cookbook comes to mind -

Dining During the Depression (referring to the Great Depression, not a state of mind) is one from which I have never cooked but I read it with great interest as it reminded me of my childhood. I was born at the end of that decade and although my family was little affected by it, there were still many reminders around that I recall in the homes of neighboring farmers.

I have just been re-reading John Humphries book The Essential Saffron Companion.

I love saffron and after a discussion on another thread I pulled out this book to refresh my memory and become reacquainted with some of the recipes I prepared in the past and which need to be reprised.

His saffron scones are wonderful. The chickpeas with saffron and spinach are excellent as is the chicken with sour orange stew which is perfect for this time of the year when Seville oranges are available.

Someone mentioned White Trash Cooking a few posts back. I have all of Mickler's books, and don't recall cooking a recipe of any of them, however I did enjoy reading them and the photos are very evocative of the southern byways that are mostly disappearing.

I think I have all of " - - - The Beautiful" cookbooks and have never prepared a recipe from any of them. I have them simply for the photography which is extraordinary.

Cookwise is an interesting read, and it does have some great advice for how to do certain kitchen processes that might be a mystery to many.

I don't agree with her way of pasteurizing eggs, but many people find it works so that is good. At least it is one way to make sure one can use raw eggs safely.

I don't remember if I have prepared any recipe from the book but it is an excellent resource for a novice cook or even an experienced one who doesn't know it all. I certainly have use for it and I have a great deal of experience.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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How To Cook Without A Book by Pam Anderson (not that Pam Anderson).

Really. What were they thinking with that title? I've never used it, that I can recall.

Michael Chiarello's Casual Cooking - nice to look at, nice recipes, just haven't used it

Eleanora's Kitchen by Eleanora Scarpetta

Everything Tastes Better with Bacon by Sara Perry

Tyler Florence's Real Kitchen - I've only made the meatloaf

Cook's Illustrated restaurant cookbook

Mastering Microwave Cookery :wink:

I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.

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I am generally pretty picky about the cookbooks I buy - I don't have a huge shelf crammed with books - so most of the ones I have I use fairly regularly.

This thread has spurred me to one project, though.

I mentioned the thread to my wife and I told her that I didn't really have any books I never use. Her first response was - what about the French Laundry Cookbook (as mentioned above by so many). I bought it as a souvenir of a dinner there in 2003.

She was right - I've leafed through the book at least a dozen times but decided that each recipe was impractical or too difficult to do at home.

But now I've decided to make a full 5 course meal for the two of us - soup, appetizer, entree, composed cheese course and dessert from the TFL cookbook. I'm going to document my experiment with pictures, etc and post the pics along with my thoughts on trying to cook from the book.

Might be fun (then again... we'll see).

Bill Russell

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...

But now I've decided to make a full 5 course meal for the two of us - soup, appetizer, entree, composed cheese course and dessert from the TFL cookbook.  I'm going to document my experiment with pictures, etc and post the pics along with my thoughts on trying to cook from the book.

Might be fun (then again... we'll see).

There is a thread here where people have started to share their experiences. Hope you do have fun and then post the pics...

"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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Two of my very favourites mentioned in this list! Hot Sour Salty Sweet, as others have said, has some really tasty items, which aren't even that terribly complicated. And The Passionate Vegetarian is one of my favourite cookbooks ever for both readability and recipes! Ah, well.

I loved reading Cookwise, but the only thing I've made from it is the Real N'awlins Pralines -- which, however, are now a requisite during the holiday season. (There's a candy store in Stratford which makes them -- and they won't make them during the winter, claiming they don't turn out! Funny, that!) Granted, I probably don't need the book for them any more, as I know the recipe (and the half or the quarter (a.k.a. single serving :blush: ) recipe... I'm something of a praline addict... by heart now.

I don't much care for the Vegetarian Times cookbook (it mostly exemplifies the boringly righteous side of veg. cooking), but A. likes it.

I have a lot of cookbooks I've never used. Some of them were worth it from a literary standpoint (I doubt I'll ever make anything from, for example, MFK Fisher's cookbook (what's it called) or Yankee Hill Country Cooking) and some of them, not so much.

Edited by CompassRose (log)
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InterCourses... An Aphrodesiac Cookbook. :wub: A Valentine's gift from the man of the house, three years ago. I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't even cracked it open since he gave it to me. There's probably some good stuff in there... and maybe after...

I can't go into a Ross/TJ Maxx/Marshall's without walking out with a $4 cookbook. They've done so much for me...

America's Best Cooking (Landol's). This is an odd name for this cookbook, considering that all of the measurements are metric, and the pictured food looks repulsive. Lots of cheese sauces and anchovies. I should just chuck that one.

Ultimate Recipes, Low-Fat. Riiiiight. I don't know what I was thinking. I must have had $4 burning a hole in my pocket. I should've just taken that $4 to the snack bar and gotten some nachos and a slurpie.

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dakshin: vegetarian cuisine of south india, by chandra padmanabhan.

a friend of mine who's from down there recommended it to me as being a pretty good representation of the cuisine. i've read through most of it a couple times now and it makes me drool, but i feel like i can't just pick something and cook it, for several reasons:

--i'd need to make three-plus unfamiliar dishes at once for a meal

--i'd need to buy a whole bunch of ingredients and spices i don't have and probably wouldn't use for much else

--i'd have to dedicate myself to cooking this and not much else for a while to really get the hang of it

the thing that kills me is that i bought it because we don't have any south indian restaurants here in philadelphia and i so desperately want it sometimes.

and i know the above are just excuses. i know it, but i just can't get started.

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Booty Food

by Jacqui Malouf with Liz (perhaps appropriately) Gumbinner

'A date-by-date, course-by-course, nibble-by-nibble guide to cultivating love and passion through food.' And that's just the cover blurb, seductively placed beside Ms. Malouf gamboling in bed.

But wait, there's less. Ms. Malouf plumbs new depths in chapters entitled 'First Date Red Flags', 'Picnic a Go-Go', 'Cheese - Nature's Viagra, 'When Cooking Is The Last Thing On Your Mind', and 'Afternoon Delights--Nooky Hooky'.

The very best of bad taste, not something I necessarily look for in a cookbook.

Jamie

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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