He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who cherishes understanding prospers. (Proverbs 19:8)
I love to cook, so my kitchen houses lots of cookbooks and I use them often. I have the big guns: The Joy of Cooking, The Betty Crocker Cookbook, and The Fannie Farmer Baking Book. But, I’ve also got a sweet little arsenal of lesser known gems covering topics such as slow-cooking, speedy meals, knock-off recipes, and cake decorating.
Of all the books in my collection, there are two that have come to my rescue time and time again. The first is The Food Substitutions Bible by David Joachim. This 600+ page book offers “more than 5,000 substitutions for ingredients, equipment, and techniques.”
I don’t have enough words to tell you how valuable this book is! If I ever run out of an ingredient and need to find a suitable substitute in taste and amount, this thorough resource has several fantastic recommendations. In fact, some of the ingredients listed in this book seem obscure to an average home cook like me (jaggery? chaya? nixtamal?), but may be familiar favorites to the cooking experts. Look for true goodies like recipes for homemade onion soup mix and garam masala. The book also includes substitutes for cooking tools as well as tips for varying the tastes of ingredients and how to adjust ingredients “for better health.”
The New Cooks’ Catalogue: The Definitive Guide to Cooking Equipment edited by Burt Wolf, Emily Aronson, and Florence Fabricant is another book this cook can’t live without! Before I buy any new piece of cooking equipment or consider succumbing to Billy May’s loud sales pitches for the latest cooking gadget, I crack open The New Cooks’ Catalogue.
This heavy hardcover 500+ page book offers detailed descriptions of countless kitchen tools, provides tips regarding what to look for when purchasing an item, and features brand comparisons as well as beautiful photos. As an added bonus, sprinkled throughout the book are many yummy recipes such as Nan’s Extra Special Marinated Spareribs, Ginger Ice Cream, and Warm, Soft Chocolate Cake.
Whether you’re a newlywed trying to learn how to make the most of your cooking and your kitchen or you’re a seasoned cook with decades of experience, these books will definitely enhance your culinary skills. They’d make a wonderful addition to or provide an excellent beginning to any cook’s bookshelf. You’ll have to get your own copies though, as these are two books I never allow anyone to borrow!
© 2009 – 2013, Andrea Thorpe. All rights reserved.