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Let’s Talk Cookbooks

Posted by in Kitchen Talk

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Kitchen Talk (Cookbooks)

The other day, I decided to tackle the task of organizing my bookshelf. Growing up, my shelves used to be filled with all kinds of books on philosophy, theology, military intelligence groups, and every single one of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novels. Strange child, I was. Fast forward a few decades and now my shelves contain books covering only two major topics, with more than half of the shelves dedicated to cookbooks.

Discovering a great cookbook is, for me, like finding treasure you never even knew was out there. Some of my most loved cookbooks are the ones recommended by friends, and a few are even written by friends.

Finding treasure is always a fun activity, even better when we all can share the rewards. So let’s go hunting! Tell us:

What are some of your favorite cookbooks?

And by favorite, I mean the ones with the dog-eared pages, or with 36 makeshift bookmarks sticking out of the edges. The ones with pages wrinkled from water splashes, translucent blobs from oil spills, and hazy colored spots from “something or other, just please let it be clean.” The ones with creased spines from repeated photocopying because you just had to share a copy of it with your mom, sister, aunt, and that nice lady you always see at the library who said you had a lovely smile.

The books on my shelf are always happy to welcome new friends. So come share your favorites in the comments below!



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Kathryn on 4.2.2014

I started with Betty Crocker in high school. L O V E Pioneer Womans books. Several of my neighbors and sibs cook out of them too. Homesick texan is pretty great and I just bought Trisha Yearwoods cookbook. I want normal food….and food thats ACTUALLY healthy wouldnt hurt either. Everybody has their own spin on healthy ;)

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AngAk on 4.2.2014

my old Betty Crocker and Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks are the ones I go to for any kind of basic recipe or reference. I have an old Fleishman’s yeast pamphlet book that I got in college(late 70s) that has the best T&T bread dough recipes, and several Sunset cookbooks from that era as well. for newer books, I love my Ina Garten cookbooks and for beautiful reading and pictures the New Recipes from Quilt Country by Marcia Adams. I can sit and read that one like a novel.

[email protected] on 4.2.2014

From Amish and Mennonite Kitchens and the U.C. Davis Coffeehouse Cookbook. Probably the first cookbooks I learned about baking and casseroles.

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Shawna C on 3.31.2014

The Joy of Ginger ( is a good one, but sometimes hard to find.

A favourite from my childhood was Love at First Bite by Jane Cooper ( I still get a kick out of reading it, even if I haven’t made anything from it in a long, long time.

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Lisa Edwards on 3.30.2014

I watched the movie “The Sweeter Side of Life” on tv today; I was wondering, has anyone ever found a recipe for the “Paddycakes” that the main character made to make her bakery popular? They look so good–thanks for the help!!!
Lisa E.
P.S. I’m sorry if this isn’t the place to ask–just a relative newbie to this site!

Coco on 3.28.2014

Hands down, Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking: From My Home to Yours” is the most dogeared, post-it-filled, flour-coated cookbook in my kitchen.

Ellen W on 3.28.2014

I like the Junior League cookbooks – many cities have Junior Leagues and a cookbook is one of the very common fundraisers that those organizations do. Colorado Cache from Denver is one of my all-time favorite books,

Kim on 3.28.2014

I love vintage Betty Crocker cookbooks, the ones that are older than I am! I love the pictures in them, plus the recipes are fun to look at. I also recently found at a thrift store a church fundraising cookbook from a tiny nearby town. On a whim I decided to go see the church and actually met one of the ladies that submitted half the recipes in the book. I really treasure the recipes from my family that go back to my great grandmother. Having her and my mom’s handwritten recipes is awesome. I have started a book for my son who is in college and has developed a love of cooking.

Aparna B. on 3.28.2014

Some of my favorite cookbooks are:
-Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra
-Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra
-My mom’s hand-written recipes which I scanned and put into a binder – does that count? LOL

Bonnie on 3.28.2014

I have many cookbooks but the red checked Better Homes and Gardens is my favorite! Great basics.

Sandi W. on 3.28.2014

I have an old cookbook that was published by school as a fundraiser and it has such a wonderful variety of family favourite recipes that I have used it again & again. Others that I use a lot: one published by a ladies church group; another called ‘ ‘Momma Never Cooked Like This ‘ by Susan Mendelson (I have a few of hers) and lastly I’m enjoying my new cookbook that I got for Christmas, A Year of Holidays by Ree Drummond! ;D

TinaLeB on 3.27.2014

I have a big collection of cookbooks that represent just about every country in Europe, all having traditional recipes. And a big collection of vegetarian cookbooks too. But if I had to pick favorites, and I can’t pick just one, I would say (not in any order) ‘Plenty’, ‘Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey’, ‘Raising the Salad Bar’, Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible’, and ‘The Southern Vegetarian’.

Lisa on 3.27.2014

My grandmother hand wrote all her recipes and presented me with a cookbook at high school graduation. While I don’t use a lot of the recipes in it, it is my most treasured cookbook and often times I will read it just for the anecdotes she included with the recipes.

Verlene on 3.27.2014

Better Homes and Gardens—I’ve used it more than any of my other cookbooks and I collect them.

Kim H on 3.27.2014

I think every home should have a Better Homes and Gardens red checked cookbook. Of all books, this one has basic, classic recipes that anyone can make. When someone comes to me with a question about cooking and I want a reference point, that is where I go first. I collect cookbooks with fantastic pictures (thank you William-Sonoma for never scrimping on photography and food styling) and I have the recipes that I have had handed down to me and I am always excited to find a new treasure with new recipes to try.

jp on 3.27.2014

My mom printed out all the favorite family recipes, along with notes and stories and put them in page protectors and binders for herself, my sister and me which we continue to add to. It is one of my favorite cookbooks. Joy of Cooking for resource/how to and why and less frequently for actual recipes. I also have a file box (letter size) of recipes I’ve collected through the years. including recipes from high school and college classes. Farm Journal’s Cookies is another fave.

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Lisa Allen on 3.27.2014

Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant (love Sayra’s Cornbread!) is my most used commercial (?) cookbook. But I love self-published cookbooks from churches, school or community groups and probably use them the most.

lena on 3.27.2014

I have on that you totally described; worn and torn, splished and splashed, pages falling out, and very well loved. I don’t know the exact title but it has recipes from bed and breakfast inns accross all 50 states. It’s pure gold. And I bought it when I was a teenager, well 19. I love it.

Kathleen N. on 3.27.2014

I got the Better Homes & Gardens Heritage Cookbook in the late 1970’s. It’s part cookbook, part American food history. (With pictures!) I appreciate that it discusses recipes brought to America by its immigrants and includes historical trivia, such as how some recipes got their names. It would be a great homeschooling resource, too.

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rinabeana on 3.27.2014

Kiss My Bundt by Chrysta Wilson! I’m about halfway through making them all… (And famous at work for it!) I have plenty of other cookbooks, but I mainly use three enormous three-ring binders that I’ve stuffed with recipes I’ve collected. Some I’ve written, some were from my mother, but most were discovered online (probably at least half of those from Tasty Kitchen). I have a “bread” binder (with categories such as sourdough, specialty, sweetbread, scones, and whole grain), a “sweet” binder (with cakes, cookies, cupcakes, tarts, pies, and all other desserts), and a “savory” binder (with appetizers, salads, soups, side dishes, vegetables, and all entrees – beef, pork, poultry, vegetarian, seafood, and mixed meat). Savory is the largest (3″ binder) and I’m pretty much at capacity… It was a momentous day when I got rid of my recipe cards and switched to the binders. So convenient!

DebbieK on 3.27.2014

My original go-to cook book is the Betty Crocker Cook book my grandmother gave me as a teenager. I still make family favorites from that book – oven fried chicken, scalloped potatoes and meatloaf. I often prepare recipes from the America’s Test Kitchen cook book. I check out A LOT of cook books from the library. Most of my canning recipes I use I found this way. I love reading cook book too. Fannie Farmer’s Last Supper by Christopher Kimball is a fascinating history about food, how the industrial revolution/transportation made foods available world wide and standardized measurement – there are recipes too.

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Dyedinthewoolcook on 3.27.2014

I have always loved reading cookbooks. My mom had a set of Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery which I loved. I would always pick one to read during lunch. Today I have a collection of cookbooks that I love but there are only a few that I just can’t live without. I have a old school copy of the Joy of Cooking. Even thought some of the recipes are a bit dated, I find that I can cook practically anything as long as I have that cookbook. The Theory and Practice of Good Cooking by James Beard is amazing. I’ve used my paperback copy so many times that the pages are literally falling out of the book! The Betty Crocker cookbook from the 50’s is great. Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking is a wonderful cookbook that has the best calzone recipe ever! For holiday sweets you can’t beat the Domino Sugar cookbook. My copy is from the early sixties and it’s a kid’s dream of sugary goodies. I have a lot of other cookbooks that I love, like all of Ree’s cookbooks, but the ones listed above are my most used over the long haul.

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free to be me on 3.27.2014

I only have a few cookbooks. The one I use and love the most is Ree’s first one. I have a notebook of family recipes and use them all the time.

Carrie M on 3.26.2014

I won BACON 24/7. So cool. Thanks .

Desi on 3.26.2014

My 1950’s Betty Crocker cookbook from my mom. You can’t beat double boiler frosting and brown butter frosting. It is falling apart!

Jenny Hartin on 3.26.2014

I love cookbooks so much. I have a group on Facebook….The Cookbook Junkies. My favorite cookbook right now is The New Midwestern Table.

Linda M on 3.26.2014

My favorite changes yearly. Right now Cowgirl Chef and Keepers are on the top of the list. I also love Cookbooks, like Junior League, that focus on dishes/food from their region.

Erica on 3.26.2014

Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz is AMAZING. It’s vegan (I am not) and low calorie but the recipes are incredible- did you even know you can make coleslaw that is low calorie AND vegan (not even based on vegan mayo) AND good. You can.
I also got the smitten kitchen cookbook and everything has been delicious, no surprise there.

Currently I am looking for a good and accessible Afghan cookbook- if anyone knows a good one please post it!

Lisa on 3.26.2014

This post is right up my alley! I have become somewhat of a collector of cookbooks!!! I have two entire book cases filled with a wonderful array. I have my mother to thank for exposing me to the many recipes out there for hours of perusing. She is the one who bought me my first cookbook when I was just 7. I still have that book. I like to buy a new cookbook whenever I go on vacation. I love learning about the local recipes. My new favorite book is The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook, by Cheryl and Griffith Day. Great southern recipes!!

Paula in Colorado on 3.26.2014

My new favorite is The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook: Recipes and Reflections from a Small Vermont Dairy by Diane St. Clair. I am doing my best to cook my way through the entire book. Not only are the recipes delicious (the BEST mashed potatoes EVER. Period.), but the pictures are beautiful. I’m thoroughly convinced that Ms. St. Clair is living the life I was intended to have.

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C. L. ( Cheryl ) "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser on 3.26.2014

Greetings to All!
I have loved books since childhood and have 6 bookshelves in my home office. I try to sort them by subject matter. I have several shelves dedicated to cookbooks. From the old checkerboard pattern Betty Crocker cookbook to modern day various books. Naturally, Ree Drummonds’ are among them! An avid reader several bookshelves contain history, related items from gardening to home improvements. Family and friends say I am difficult to buy gifts for, so I always tell them a new book is appreciated. CLW

Bethany on 3.26.2014

A few of my favorites –
Baking by Dorie Greenspan
The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash
The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters
The Farm to Table Cookbook by Ivy Manning
Betty Crocker, 1981 edition.

Glenda on 3.26.2014

I have my motherinlaws cookbook from her childhood. It’s an old crisco cookbook. The crisco container is glass in the pictures. She was known for her chocolate meringue pie and this is the cookbook it was in. The page with the recipe has ink marks where my husband squibbled as a child. I still use this cookbook for its pie recipes.

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Lisa | Healthy Nibbles & Bits on 3.26.2014

My go-to cookbook is Super Natural Every Day. The photos in it are beautiful, and I always use that cookbook as a springboard for coming with ideas for new recipes.

Beckie on 3.26.2014

About 20 yrs ago, I compiled a notebook of family recipes for myself and made up notebooks for each of my siblings & their children. It was made up of recipes that our grandmother made and many of the dishes that we HAVE to have at family gatherings. Many of the newer recipes came from our church cookbook, to which my sister & I both contributed. I add recipes to my own notebook, from the web and others. My favorite published cookbooks include my old red plaid BH&G cookbook that I received as a wedding gift, 42 yrs ago. I love your cookbooks and some of the ones from Southern Living & Taste of Home. There is a theme running here, isn’t there? We enjoy down-home recipes that are tested and remind us of family.

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Solaster Seastar on 3.26.2014

Well I can’t even travel without the first 2 Pioneer Woman cookbooks, I even bought them on the Kindle since we travel a lot. I love the Jamie Oliver Jamie at home and bought the video’s and used them with the book to teach the wee one how to cook. I also have Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day but alas have the recipes memorized so the book is on the back shelf. I also have a two part series of the history of the Russian Mennonites that came to America told through their food. Really fascinating, though the recipes are hard to manage in a modern day. And I would not be remiss if I did not mention my love of reading Nigella Lawson’s books though the recipes take a few tries to come out to our American pallets, and all the travel books filled with recipes, love those too.

KrissyC EsMommy on 3.26.2014

My favorites are cook books that came from churches, craft sales and community fund raisers. You know the kind….like a little three ring binder filled with recipes from different people in the area. I love them because while they are simple recipes, they are tried and true recipes. I have a few that are 50 year or so old that my grandma and my great grandmother subitted recipes for. Its like little treasures.
I also love tasty home cook books, old fashioned recipe cook books (like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s cook book), these awesome cookbooks my MIL gave me filled with recipes that my husband grew up on, PW’s cook books and any other fun looking cook books. My shelves are full of mixes of published and binder cook books with a few little “cooking with kids” ones mixed in.

Patricia @ ButterYum on 3.26.2014

Oh boy – I’m a cookbook freak and I have way more than I should ever admit to. My mother-in-law gave me my first cookbook when I married her son – the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. It’s very good and I’ve given it to new brides over the years. But as many cookbooks as I have, I rarely cook out of them. Baking is another story – my 20+ year old copy of The Cake Bible is completely falling apart from use – I have to keep a fabric book cover on it to keep all the pages contained. It’s definitely well loved – the pages are stained and covered with handwritten notes, and I have paper clips and bookmarks here and there so I can open to the my favorite recipes and charts without having to visit the index first. Another favorite is a 3-ring binder that you add your own recipes to – mine is bulging and I really should think about getting another. I also reach for a little book that was published by a church we attended years ago – flipping through that book brings back wonderful memories.

Patty Grooms on 3.26.2014

I have a couple of cookbooks I often use, “Better Homes and Garden” and “The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Food From My Frontier”. For the most part I get most of my recipes on line. I use to have a Betty Crocker cookbook I just loved, but never have replaced it.

Rhonda Mendiola on 3.26.2014

I have a couple that are my most favorite…years ago my mother gave me an Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk cookbook…that is the one I use for Banana Pudding and Pumpkin pie. Everyone loves both. I love my Texas Country Reporter cookbook, it has THE best recipe for Chicken Enchiladas…yum, yum. I love your first cookbook and have tried several recipes out of that one. Love, love the Maple Pecan Scones with coffee…And the last one is my Typically Texas cookbook. I have tried many of the recipes in this book. My fav is the Better than Sex cake. It is totally awesome. I just love cooking and I love to eat more…. Can you tell I’m a Texas girl…lol.

Sue In FLA on 3.26.2014

I have been collecting cookbooks for 46 years and I have over 200 on my shelves. My most used book is Betty Crocker- the 1969 edition. It now has a duct tape binding and lots of wrinkled pages. It also has recipes that are marked through with comments like “too much butter or salt”, along with stars and “like alot”. In 2003, I put a booklet of my favorite recipes together (40 or so) that I gave to friends and family. Everyone really liked the booklet and have asked me to do another, but the first one was enough for me. I use Joy Of Cooking also, usually to find the most basic recipe or the best preparation method. I have many regional cookbooks that I love to read through to get ideas, but I have decided that to add new books to the collection, I need to weed out some that I no longer want. These will be donated so someone else can enjoy them.

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Judy on 3.26.2014

My favorite cookbooks are from churches I have attended or someone has given me from their church. Those ladies know how to cook. You can certainly tell the favorite recipes because some of the pages are almost unreadable. I do have many cookbooks, two of PW’s that I use frequently. Lately, I have been printing recipes and putting them in loose-leaf notebooks with sheet protectors. I just pull out the sheet for the recipe I want and if something gets spilled on it, it can easily be wiped off.

Jo Ann P on 3.26.2014

One of my favorite subjects. I am a collector and can sit and read a cookbook like it was a riveting novel. It is difficult to decide on just one. One is Better Homes and Gardens “New Cookbook” with the red plaid cover design. I have two version, one I was given when we married fifty years ago and one that was my Mother’s. Another is Betty Crocker’s All-Time Favorites published in 1971 which I won as a door prize at a convention almost fifty years ago. Another favorite is a small cookbook called “A Little Taste of Texas” full of delicious recipes. I love community cookbooks which when reading one is like a trip down memory lane. Some of mind are beginning to come apart but they are a joy.

ChristinaS(2) on 3.26.2014

Actually it was called “Calico Pantry” and it was a fundraising cookbook for the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County….

ChristinaS(2) on 3.26.2014

I have a cookbook called “Calico Kitchen” that was a fundraising cookbook for the Cerebral Palsy organization up in NY that was produced sometime in the ’60’s or early “70’s. My mother used several of those recipes that we grew up with that she hunted down copies for both my sister and myself when we got married in the early 90’s…mine is just as floured and dog-eared as my mother’s is :). Can’t live without the Rice Pilaf recipe….

Gidget on 3.26.2014

Good OLD Betty Crocker that I inherited from my Grandmother.
I have a newer version and its just not as good…

I do also use my Pioneer Woman cookbooks too.

Amy Williams on 3.26.2014

Betty Crocker for mocha buttercream frosting and quiche. Marcella Hazan pork chops with porcini, Lydia Bastianich for chicken Valdostano with prosciutto, MaryAnn Esposito braciole and go to cookbook- Wordsworth Eating Ukrops grocery store Richmond VA. I could go on and on

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Sher on 3.26.2014

My favorite cookbooks are the church and school fundraiser cookbooks.

Tara W on 3.26.2014

I have my Betty Crocker cookbook from high school (1984ish) that is soo worn. Lately I have been using Ree’s books a lot. I love cookbooks, and have dozens of them!