Staff Picks: Eight Favorite Cookbooks That Are More Than Recipes

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Hungry for something new?  The popularity of our cookbook collection confirms that you are not alone.  From the practical to the sentimental, staff shares a few favorites and how cookbooks enrich our lives.

Bon appétit!  

Ah, Ireland! Traveling there is really the only thing I have on my bucket list. If I never get to go, at least I can have some Irish fare by checking out the library’s copy Irish Pub Cookbookof “The Irish Pub Cookbook.” Although there are recipes that call for specific Irish ingredients, most of the recipes are straight forward and use ingredients that are easy to come by – even the Kerry Gold Irish Butter, which you can get at Wegmans and Walmart. There’s a Guinness Beef Stew recipe that’s especially easy. But even if I can’t make some of the recipes, I still enjoy flipping through the pages and dreaming of that trip to Ireland.
Ellie, Library Associate, Warrenton central library

Fix It and Forget It: Holiday Appetizers, Finger Foods and Beverages by Phyllis Pellman Good

Not being known for my culinary skills, I always search for easy-to-prepare recipes. One of my go-to favorites remains the Fix-It and Forget-It cookbook series.  My current holiday favorite is “Fix-It and Forget-It Holiday Appetizers, Finger Foods, and Beverages.”.  Found within are many easy to prepare recipes that require only a few ingredients which are commonly found in most kitchens.  One family favorite is the Cheesy Sausage Dip.   You can be guaranteed if I am attending a family function, they expect that I will bring my version of this yummy recipe!  Here is hoping you can find some easy, time-saving recipes to make your holiday more relaxed and quite tasty!
∼ Donna, Library Clerk, Warrenton central library

Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer and Ethan Becker

I received this cookbook from my Aunt Penny for my wedding 25 years ago (1975 edition) inscribed with her words of encouragement. I was not particularly fond of cooking, but my wise Aunt knew it was the perfect gift for a young bride. In it can be found many basic recipes and so much more.

The book’s 915 pages overwhelmed me at first, but it soon became my favorite. It is the only cookbook I have with a cracked spine and stained pages, because it has been used the most. Need to know how to cook a hard-boiled egg without the yolk turning green? It’s in there. Want a delicious stuffing for your holiday turkey? Try the sausage dressing recipe on page 537.

The library has the 75th anniversary edition of the cookbook. Published in 2006, it is based on my beloved 1975 edition plus 500 new recipes. Don’t let its 1132 pages scare you. Every recipe I’ve tried has become my go-to recipe. My favorites include the recipes for beef stroganoff, pancakes, waffles, pastry cream, golden layer cake and meringue buttercream (a great way to use up the extra egg whites from the pastry cream). Beyond the recipes, “Joy of Cooking” also teaches techniques like how to cut a chicken into parts, weight conversions and ingredient substitutions.

Even though cooking trends have evolved, and there are some recipes that seem outdated (tongue in aspic anyone?), I love that they’re included in my edition of the book. They remind me of a time, long ago when families regularly gathered at the table and conversation was the primary entertainment.
∼ Dawn, Library Clerk, Warrenton central library

Ten Dollar Dinners  by Melissa d’Arabian

This past year, I discovered this cookbook in the library’s collection and it has become one of my favorites. It has so many easy and delicious recipes one can use while cooking on a budget. From Simple Tomato Tart, Cheesy Popovers, Chicken Meatballs, and Rigatoni with No-Cook Tomato Sauce — I love this cookbook!  My favorite dessert…. Black Bean Brownies! (Who knew they could be so tasty AND healthy?) I hope you enjoy this cookbook as much as I did.
∼ Carol, Library Clerk, Warrenton central library

Classic Southern Desserts: All-Time Favorite Recipes for Cakes, Cookies, Pies, Puddings, Cobblers, Ice Cream and More from the editors of Southern Living

I don’t like to cook but I LOVE to bake!  This is a wonderful cookbook for my favorite thing, desserts!  It has many of my husband’s favorites, coconut cream pie and sweet potato pie!
∼ Katrina, Library Associate, Warrenton central library

Semi-Homemade Slow Cooker Recipes: Savory, Simple, Sensational Recipes That Taste Like They Were Made from Scratch by Sandra Lee

This cookbook is for we women who like to spend as little time as possible making a good meal for our families. Sandra Lee has many, but this one is my favorite.  You use 70% store bought ingredients and 30% homemade for her recipes.  These meals can be made in 20 minutes or less and are delicious.
∼ Shelley @Warrenton central library

Fix, Freeze, Feast: Prepare in Bulk and Enjoy by the Serving by Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik

If busy schedules keep you from enjoying home-cooked meals together, then this book is for you. Preparing freezer meals in bulk is a great way to ensure you’ll always have a meal on hand. It’s also a great way to trim your grocery budget!

∼ Emily, Library Clerk, Warrenton central library

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl by Ree Drummond

I was introduced to this cookbook one year at Thanksgiving during a trip to my cousin’s house.  As I sat in her homey kitchen to catch up on news and cook together, she invited me to look through her new recipe book.  As she put the final touches on the holiday meal, I strolled through each page of scrumptious recipes, colorful photos and fun anecdotes for each dish.  The beautiful photographs, easy to follow directions and fun stories instantly brought me into the world of the Pioneer Woman and caused my mouth to water as I anticipated making the recipes myself.   My cousin noticed my love of the book and later gifted me with a copy of my own! Through the years, I’ve loved trying several recipes as well as snuggling down in a comfy chair to slip away for a few minutes into life on the prairie.  I believe you too will appreciate all this book has to offer both the beginning cook and seasoned chef.   I recommend this book for those who love to cook, have an appreciation for storytelling and enjoy a feast for the eye!

∼ Kathie, Library Clerk, Warrenton central library

America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook  from the editors of America’s Test Kitchen

I have found this to be my go-to cookbook for both every day and holiday recipes.  Not only do the recipes turn out as advertised, many helpful hints are offered, and there are often pictures to show various techniques.  If you want tasty, reliable recipes, look no further!

∼ Muriel, Library Associate, Warrenton central library

Book listsreviews from our book clubs and favorites from library staff are great resources when searching for your next book. Or stop by the reference desk at your local library.

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