We find much joy in food. In the growing of it, the preserving of it, the preparing of it, and most of all, in the eating. For us- or at least for me, eating isn't just about fuel, or about caloric intake. It's about watching something grow from a seed, something that will sustain other beings, nourish our bodies. It's about connecting with the earth beneath and sun above that grew that food, with the farmers that graciously gave us goat manure for our gardens, the other farmers that grew food for us, with the friend whom we collaboratively grew garlic and onions with. Connecting with each other as we water, harvest and prepare a meal together. Connecting with friends and family as we share with them a meal that we grew from a seed. Connecting with our own bodies, as we feel how healthy good food makes us feel.
In our home, food is joyful. I've often thought, that in the many ways people show love, in our home it is through preparing a meal for others. When guests come to our home they can expect nothing less than homemade salsas, home smoked chicken, hand fried tortilla's and fresh picked veggies to boot. Friends and family know what they can expect when they come here to eat, and it's always good, always made with love, often grown in our gardens or down the street by a farmer we've met.
And so it is that I have quite the attachment to these particular possessions in my home. Our cookbooks. Because though they themselves don't bring joy, they are so much a part of the culture of our home, of our love. And I relish the opportunity to share a few of my favorites here with you. (Maybe a little selfishly, because I hope you'll share your favorites with me, so I can rush over and check them out from the library.)
First, there're the local & seasonal eating cookbooks. For anyone cooking with a CSA share for the first time or perusing the farmer's market, Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters is absolutely indispensable. The recipes are simple and easy, giving you ideas of what to do with nearly any vegetable without making it complicated. And they're delicious. (My favorite is the eggplant caviar, and I can't, can't, can't wait until I see an eggplant at the market in the coming days.) The Art of Simple Food, also by Alice Waters, is just as wonderful and simple, but you'll find great (and basic) tips for things like cooking a locally raised chicken and making a simple risotto. River Cafe Cookbook Green, by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, is a cookbook I poured over day after day when learning to cook in Italy. You won't find it on the bookshelves in the states, as it's never been published here. Nonetheless, my darling husband went to the ends of the earth (okay, really just to the UK) to track it down for me one Christmas, and I cherish the seasonal recipes organized by month- even if they are seasonal to someone else's climate.
The vegetarian cookbooks I've had for quite sometime, as I was a vegetarian for much of my life. Still, we don't eat a lot of meat, and so these cookbooks are well used. Out of them all, I absolutely adore 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles, as it has some very basic recipes for any course and any vegetable or legume. If you were to have one vegetarian cookbook (or one cookbook period) this one's the one.
Then there are the international fare cookbooks. My hubby prefers French cooking when he's feeling like doing up a meal, where I tend towards Italian. Italian Easy by Ruth Rogers & Rose Gray has the most excellent simple Italian recipes, easy for anyone learning how to make polenta, risotto or a good pasta for the first time.
Then there are the baking & dessert cookbooks. And, well... we use these ones a lot. Every. Single. One of them. I love Joy of Cooking as a reference for anything, but particularly find myself using it for things like biscuits and shortcake when the berries come in and all they need is a little buttery boat to be served over. My husband is the pie baker in this house, and Pie by Haedrich is well used in this house. He's on a mission to make his way through the whole book. (Would you like to come over for pie sometime? Because really, this mission causes my waist line a lot of angst. I would love to share the angst pie with you.)
The miscellaneous cookbooks... I am soup obsessed come winter, and I think every home chef needs some good soup recipes up their sleeve. I can't wait to use Pretend Soup to cook with my little person, and the pickle & preserving cookbooks? Well any good gardener needs something of the sort...
And then there are the natural eating cookbooks. Nature is fairly new (gift) to me, but I've enjoyed the few recipes I've made from it. I am now in love with Heidi Swanson, author of Super Natural Everyday, and covet her other cookbooks. Nourishing Traditions is a good read, and a great source if you're planning on making things like sauerkraut or yogurt. I often reference it when I find myself fermenting, culturing, etc. It can be a little eye opening if you're in the market to learn about wellness and eating.
Food is a big topic in our house (and, hello, on this blog!) We enjoy growing food and cooking it (though I'll admit, when you've been up all night for days on end with a teething baby, it is far from enjoyable). A big question for us is always, "How do we stick to our food budget and still eat well?" I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter. (I did an in depth food post on my old blogger blog, which is somewhere lost in cyber space. Perhaps someday I'll move them over here along with this cookbook post.)
So please share! What are your favorite cookbooks, recipes, etc.?