Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cookbook Inspiration

My cookbook shelf. The box on the bottom shelf contains
small recipe boxes which belonged to my grandmother.

I really love a good cookbook. Even though you can find pretty much any recipe in the world on the internet these days (and believe me, I do that, too!) there is no substitute for sitting in a comfy chair, perusing a cookbook.
I still own the very first cookbook I ever bought for myself, when I was first out on my own at the age of 18. It's called A Vegetarian's Ecstasy. It was my introduction to the world of vegetarian cooking, and it played a huge role in making me into the cook I am today. At this point in my life I have a pretty good collection of vegetarian cookbooks. I cull them ever year or two, donating the ones I don't use, to make room for new ones which somehow find their way into my house. When I redid my kitchen, I had a little built-in shelf installed just to store my collection.

Well-loved, bookmarked cookbooks.
When I get in a "recipe rut" of cooking the same meals over and over, I pull out a cookbook or two to look for inspiration. I also have my kids go through them from time to time, and pick out recipes that look good to them, that they would like me to make. My most-loved cookbooks are bookmarked with many scraps of paper, marking my favorite recipes. I also have little pencil notes in there, for the changes I've made to the recipes over time. That's the thing about a good recipe... you can cook it exactly as it's written, but you can also change up ingredients to make them your own. Maybe you like things a little spicier, or less spicy, or you don't like a particular ingredient, so you substitute something else. There is really no right or wrong when it comes to cooking, there is just what tastes good to you!

Sometimes people tell me I'm "lucky" that I know how to cook. I tell them that luck has nothing to do with it! If you can read, you can cook. If you want to learn how to cook, find a recipe that looks tasty, and follow the directions. That's it! The first time you make a recipe, follow it exactly. From there, you can start experimenting.

Currently, my favorite cookbooks are Vegan With a Vengeance and Appetite for Reduction, both by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I have also recently purchased Artisan Vegan Cheeses, which I haven't made anything from just yet, but I'm looking forward to it! I've heard good things about it.

What are your favorite cookbooks?

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