What’s Your Go-To Cook Book?

22 Jan



Happy National Blonde Brownie Day!

According to Eat the Year, today is the day we should be celebrating the non-chocolate-based brownie, the brownie that looks in this picture, thanks to the coating of chocolate chips on the top, like a pan cookie. But it’s not. It does, however, have a lot of brown sugar in it, which is mighty tasty.

I’m not sure I’ve ever made blondies, so I grabbed my handy-dandy Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (note: the linked version is much newer–mine is copyright 1996) because I figured it would have a recipe. And it did not fail me. Recipe was easy too!

That got me to thinking, what are people’s go-to cook books for everyday recipes? BHG is one of my two standards. It’s the one I reach for when I need a quick recipe or am looking for something that sounds all-American. It teaches the basics in a very approachable way (and by approachable, I might mean “with color photographs”).

My other go-to is The Joy of Cooking. We own two versions of this: the 1975 version, which is spiral-bound (plus!) and includes recipes for cooking opossum (“If possible, trap ‘possum and feed it on milk and cereals for 10 days before killing.” It’s as if possum’s the veal of the small game world–but you get to fatten it up and kill it yourself), porcupine, raccoon, muskrat, woodchuck, beaver, beaver tail, and armadillo. The 1997 version’s chapter on game isn’t nearly that extensive, and the book is hardbound, so it doesn’t lie as flat easily. It is, however, more geared to what people cook today.

The Joy of Cooking is nice because its basic information on different food groups is pretty extensive, and I feel like I’ve gotten some training after I’ve successfully read and completed a recipe (believe me, this feeling of satisfaction doesn’t always happen). It can be a little intimidating to use though, so while I know it’ll have pretty much anything I need, I don’t always turn to it right away.

I’ve got a few other general cookbooks that I’ve been working through–a Rachael Ray, a Mr. Food, a Frugal Gourmet, but I don’t instantly reach for them the way I do these two. Are these two the end-all be-all of basic cookbooks? If not, what do you own?

What do you think?

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