You can't make everything from scratch

...but you can sure try!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Kitchen library (located right next to Kitchen Stadium?)

Less than a month into blogging, and I've already been tagged for a meme! Specifically, the Foppish Baker tagged me for a cookbook meme. And a good thing, too, as it's been a very busy week (and weekend) for me, with lots of translation contracts to work on, so I haven't had a lot of time to come up with anything else to blog about. The upside is that this means I can afford to buy more cookbooks and the kitchen gadgets that go along with them.

The picture above shows our cookbook shelf. (As a bonus, you can see the front row of my single-malt scotch collection; the more expensive stuff sits at the back, so that it doesn't accidentally get knocked off.)

How many cookbooks do you own?
Books are like candy to me. Except for cookbooks: they're more like crack cocaine. A quick count of our cookbook shelf shows that we have about 42 cookbooks. Of course, that doesn't count cookbooks that may be strewn around the house, our healthy supply of back issues of Bon App├ętit, Gourmet or Food & Drink (shown at the very top of the picture), or other books that happen to have recipes in them, such as Untangling my Chopsticks by Victoria Abbott Riccardi or The Collected Traveller: Morocco by Barrie Kerper.

Which cookbook did you buy most recently?
The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart, in an attempt to improve my bread baking skills and on the recommendation of the Foppish Baker, among others. If I had waited another week before posting this, the answer would most likely have been Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing, by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn, since that's almost definitely the next cookbook I'm going to buy. Why? See this eGullet thread and maybe you'll understand.

Which is the cookbook that you read most recently?
Depending on what is meant by "read" here, I'll say The Bread Baker's Apprentice again. I may have briefly consulted one of my Japanese cookbooks for advice on the soba I made the other day for lunch and The Silver Spoon to confirm something about fresh pasta, but The Bread Baker's Apprentice is the last cookbook I sat down with and read like a novel.

Name 5 cookbooks that mean a lot to you.
1. Simply Thai Cooking by Wandee Young and Byron Ayanoglu
This one is simply indispensable in our house. Whenever we don't feel like cooking, my husband will reach for this book, because it's so easy, as long as you have a few Thai staples around. Unfortunately, one of those staples is basil, so it has begun to play a decreasing role in our lives since we moved to New Brunswick, where fresh basil is in very short supply.

2. The family cookbook
This was put together by my sister-in-law as a Christmas gift to us a couple of years ago. It's great, because it puts a number of our most-used recipes together in one place, and it contains a lot of my husband's family history, mostly in the form of recipes he hated as a kid and continues to hate today (Rob Roy cookies come to mind). I only wish I could get a copy or two for my own siblings...

3. Joy of Cooking
This is generally my go-to cookbook whenever I want to confirm the basics, such as roasting times and temperatures for turkey or how to store mussels in the fridge. (For what it's worth, apparently you don't need to store them on ice, but you do need to let them breathe.)

4. Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook
Yeah, I'm a Bourdain groupie. What can I say? I think he has one of the most compelling voices in English-language food writing today, and it is used to great effect in this book. The recipes themselves aren't great - I wouldn't recommend them for beginners, although they tend to be OK if you already know how to cook - but the writing is just so engaging that it really doesn't matter.

5. The Big Book of Breakfast, by Maryana Vollstedt
This one has everything you've ever wanted to know about omelettes, frittatas, stratas, waffles, pancakes, bacon, scrambles, hashes, french toast... On a long weekend, when I'm looking for something more than my usual toast and coffee, this is where I turn.

I know I'm now supposed to tag someone else to keep the meme going, but I don't think there's anyone out there who reads my blog and keeps a food blog of their own. If I'm wrong, leave a comment, and I'll be happy to tag you!


  • At 4:25 PM, Anonymous Sister-in-law (Sil) said…

    Well isn't that just the nicest thing ever :)

    Just picturing my brother's face reading the *words* "Rob Roy cookies" was enough motivation to put the cookbook together..

    I've thought about doing a second edition, or re-releasing the original. I'll be sure to make extra copies this time.

    I don't have a food blog, but I'd be happy to be tagged and respond in ye olde regular blog.

    Keep on scratchin'.


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