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The Cookbooks You Need On Your Bookshelf

I was gifted my first cookbook at the age of 10. I still have it, too: The Pillsbury Book of Baking. Every now and then I take it down from the shelf, usually during the holidays when I’m making something a little outrageous and a lot sweet. It may not be on heavy rotation these days, but that first book taught me to love recipes and baking.

Sure, there are millions of recipes available all over the internet, but I’ve always been drawn to cookbooks – for awhile I was even collecting regional cookbooks when I traveled. Flipping through the pages, each chapter is full of possibility and love, recipes carefully crafted by their author or authors to fit the theme of each book. Maybe this is a strange ritual, but I love sitting down in the morning and paging through a cookbook while I drink my coffee. Weird? Maybe.

Lately I’ve been meaning to diversify my admittedly sparse repertoire of go-to meals, so I asked a few people around the office for their favorite cookbook recommendations. I’m sharing my own as well. It’s almost the weekend, and what better time to hit up the book store and the farmer’s market, dust off the stove, and get cooking?




Naomi, PR Specialist:

The Moosewood Cookbook: “A year into college, I became a vegetarian and my family was shocked. Their little prosciutto-eating Italian was no more. On one of my visits home, my mom gifted me this book as a gateway to my new veggie-eating adventure. Little did I know she had owned and loved it for many years. I’ve since done the same, and this book has taught me so much about vegetarian cooking.”

Superfood Cuisine:  “I remember receiving this book, and having no idea what a “superfood” even was. It really inspired me to start thinking about what ingredients I could substitute with healthier options in my cooking. I got more creative with healthy, nutrient packed cuisine, and now superfoods are a part of my regular diet each and every day. ”



Sandy, Planning:

The Vegetarian Epicure — a classic in vegetarian cooking — and Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker have long been favorites for me. Food & Wine Magazine’s 2001 Cookbook is a fave for dinner parties, and the book I’m most eager to use is Great Chefs Cook Vegan.”



As for me? Like Naomi — and many others it seems — The Moosewood Cookbook has been a stand by, both in my home growing up, and my own kitchen now. A classic for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, the book offers unique and easy to follow recipes, all presented in a friendly, non-intimidating way. Great for new cooks. I’ve always been drawn to the sweet illustrations that accompany each recipe, like you’re peeking into the recipe box of a family member.

Another favorite of mine is The Joy of Cooking. This book is a compendium of cooking knowledge. It’s full of fantastic recipes, but more than that, it houses answers to the most basic of cooking questions. It’s easy to take to the internet when you’re trying to, for example, figure out how long you need to cook eggs to make them hard-boiled, but sometimes you just want one definitive and simple answer. This book has it.

And lastly, my most treasured cookbook can’t be bought. This journal was given to me by my mother, partially filled with family recipes and old favorites that I grew up on, with blank pages interspersed. These blank pages serve as inspiration for me to put down the books every now and then to attempt to create something of my own.

And you? Do you have a go-to cookbook to recommend? Maybe a new book that you’re just dying to crack open? I’d love to know! Be sure to share in the comments.

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dani -August 22, 2014, 7:15AM

My current go to is a cookbook on Venetian cicchetti (tapas), especially since I’ve moved somewhere that fresh local seafood and European ingredients are very, very plentiful – and cheap! It’s taught me to simplify my cooking, and to rely on the purity of really good, really fresh seasonal ingredients; to let the food shine, not the cook.

<3 dani

BrittanyFry -August 22, 2014, 8:34AM

I love cookbooks. At my bridal shower we were gifted so many along with a recipe box of family recipes. I treasure them dearly! My favorite place to shop for cool cookbooks is TjMaxx because they always have neat ones that are usually entertaining too, we totally bought 50 Shades of Chicken!! Its hilarious and the recipes are really good!

Caitlin -August 22, 2014, 10:05AM

I’ve been wanting to get more cookbooks for a while now. My mom has an entire wall of our kitchen covered in bookshelves filled with cookbooks. Now that I’m cooking more for myself I want to get a collection going. The best cookbooks I’ve found have a ton of great pictures because we eat with our eyes first!

Summer -August 22, 2014, 10:08AM

omg this is seriously perfect timing. my fiancé and I are thinking about going vegetarian for the month of September just to try it out. my biggest worry is how to supplement the stuff that meat gives you. any suggestions or link s are welcomed!! :D



Anonymous -August 22, 2014, 10:59AM

HUGE fan of Mark Bittmans “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian”. It’s full of my favorite kinds of recipes…simple but delicious!

Stacy -August 22, 2014, 12:52PM

The Moosewood Restaurant Cookbooks are absolutely AMAZING especially for newbie vegetarians/vegans. Also Chloe’s Kitchen is a great vegan starter cookbook. Um, the Sunset magazine cookbooks are awesome and the vintage ones are fun to read. I like Food from Mary McCartney and the Tassajara Bread Book is a classic everyone should have.

ataylor -August 22, 2014, 1:28PM

Forks over knives has become a fun favorite of mine! The flavors abound! I always sneak a dairy addition in or a fried egg, but its a great vegan resource.

Brittany -August 22, 2014, 1:53PM

Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Everyday is one of my favorites!

debra -August 22, 2014, 2:31PM

Tru Food just put out a new cookbook – True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure
by Andrew Weil – that follows the recipes from this fabulous restaurant. I have a giant collection of cookbooks…’s really nice when traveling and discovering new restaurants to see if they have a cookbook of their own. Cafe Pascales in Santa Fe, NM is another great one. So is the Magnolia Bakery (NYC) Cookbook of baked goods. I could go on and on…..Happy Cooking!

Alexandra -August 22, 2014, 4:02PM

So sweet, I love the look of cook books – even with the existence of the internet. (& the illustrations are the cutest!)

Warm Regards,

Becca -August 22, 2014, 10:01PM

This post was fate! I’ve been wanting to out together a journal/scrapbook off all the recipes I come across on blogs, in magazines and photocopied out of friends cookbooks, because I seem to make them once and then I forget where I saw them. That way I know I love everything in the book! I will need one for clean eating and one for indulgences I think :p thanks for the post :)

Camille -August 22, 2014, 10:38PM

The Forest Feast by Erin Gleeson is my favorite cookbook. Very simple, beautiful pictures, vegetarian. Fun ideas for parties and every day cooking.

Hypnotica Vintage -August 23, 2014, 10:32AM

I agree about the new edition of the Vegetarian Epicure- it is a fantastic book. My favorite cookbook is actually from the 70s, ASIAN COOKBOOK by Charmaine Solomon. It is the most authentic, comprehensive pan-Asian cookbook there is, and as Solomon’s family lived in Burma, there are actually Burmese recipes- hard to find! The pictures are kind of ugly, but whatever. This cookbook rules and it costs like $2.

Lisa -September 1, 2014, 2:03AM

Ny favorite cookbook is actully the mickey mouse cookbook. My mother had it while growing up and i love it! The recipies isnt that healty probobly, and it have seen better days by now, but it definatly has the easiest, fastest and most delicous cupcakes og all time ;-)

Anj -September 4, 2014, 10:27AM

My cookbook bible is Stephanie Alexander’s ‘The Cook Companion’ – It is literally the cook’s bible! It has information about countless ingredients and how to use them in recipes. It’s amazing!

Lucia -September 13, 2014, 5:35AM

You can buy these books pretty cheap here:

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