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Old 03-20-2006, 06:50 PM   #11
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I'm going to sound like an echo here but I would definately start my cookbook collection with Joy of Cooking (Scribner Edition) NOT "The New Joy of Cooking". It has a lot of information about "stuff" in addition to tons of recipes - for example in the section on herbs it explains what each one is, what it taste like, and when they are most often used. You can almost always find these used at amazon.com for under $12-$15. Get the hardcover edition - not the comb-binding (I've heard the paper is so thin you don't have to turn the page to read what is on the next page). Also, I've been told by a couple of people who grew up with Joy to stay from the New Joy because they left out a lot of the "stuff" about foods and techniques to make room for just more recipes.

I also have to second the vote for any of the Cook's Illustrated cookbooks (The Best Recipes, The Quick Recipes, etc.). Before they give you the recipe they discuss what they tried to get the best results - what they tried, what worked and what didn't, and why.

How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman is also good.

Getting more into the science of cooking we have Alton Brown's books, Cookwise by Shirley Corriher (has some recipes based on the science discussions), What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained by Robert L. Wolke, and On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen (Revised Edition) by Harold McGee (just science - no recipes). If you are an Alton Brown Good Eats fan - the majority of his food science comes from Corriher (she has been a guest on several episodes) and McGee - so much so that I often think of Good Eats as "Harold and Shirly - The Movie!"

There are lots of good cookbooks that can teach you something about techniques (anything written by Julia Child for example). These are just some of my favorites for someone wanting to move beyond just following a recipe.

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Old 03-20-2006, 09:03 PM   #12
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I also advocate the Joy of COoking as the best place to start, but I go for the New All Purpose one...why? It was updated for what's in markets today and a greater ethnic variety. Shoul dyou then also have the old standard Joy...sure, you may well find items there you like. (I fight with my sister about this all the time, cause I"M YOUNGER! ha)

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Old 03-21-2006, 08:05 AM   #13
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I own both an old and the most recent Joy of Cooking. I find I use the newer one because it has more international dishes and uses more modern appliances.

CharlieD and Gary, I own hundreds of cookbooks, and many years of Gourmet and now Saveur magazines. But I consider them guidelines rather than hard-and-fast rules. I look up several recipes for something I want to make, take mental notes, then go off on my own tangent. You can't do this with baking, that is more a science and you have to have a lot of knowledge to vary from a recipe. I like to do a lot of ethnic cooking (the Dubuque oriental grocer knows me well, and the last time I was there told hubby, "Your wife is buying that? She must be a very, very good cook." Not for the first time he was told he was a "rucky" man!). Toot's recommendation of looking up cookbooks at a library is a good one as well, you can sit and browse and decide if it is worth your $$ to actually go find and buy it. A lot of people now use the computer, but I somehow find it cold compared to my old friends, the cookbooks and magazines.

Find a used book store or hit your library's annual book sale fundraiser if they have one. You'll be surprised what you find at bargain prices.
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Old 03-21-2006, 01:38 PM   #14
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WOW! Thanks for all the great titles. My local library has, or can get in almost all of these. I'm going to look them over before I buy. I'm off to the library, thanks again. Gary
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Old 03-21-2006, 01:41 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by gary b
WOW! Thanks for all the great titles. My local library has, or can get in almost all of these. I'm going to look them over before I buy. I'm off to the library, thanks again. Gary
I was just getting ready to tell you to go check out your local library to see what they have and you gone and beat me too it. I check out cookbooks all the time from mine. I have an addiction to cookbooks....you should see how many I have.....so this is a way to curb my need to buy.
Se non supporta il calore, vattene dalla cucina!
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Old 03-21-2006, 02:00 PM   #16
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I used to be an aircraft mechanic and learned to follow written instructions (repair manuals etc.) to the letter and not to deviate from them. I think that has helped me follow cooking recipes better.
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Old 03-21-2006, 03:40 PM   #17
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Gary, I am mechanical engineer, still cannot fallow a recipe. Consider yourself lucky.
You are what you eat.
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Old 03-21-2006, 06:09 PM   #18
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Check out the very first cookbook to provide level measurements and easy-to-follow directions: The Fanny Farmer Cookbook.

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Old 04-05-2006, 07:53 PM   #19
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I read through Alton Brown (watched his shows too) and have accumulated a very large (but mostly untried) cache of culinary knowledge. Alton doesn't dip too deep into the biochemistry, but he gives you enough to know what the heck is going on in that oven.

I've also read What Einstein Told His Cook and the "sequel" to it. The first book is better in terms of content. The second reviews obscure and strange stuff, and sounds mostly like a paen to the author himself. He really brags about himself at every opportunity. Personall I wouldn't reccomend him, but the first book does contain some good knowledge.

I'm just picking up McGee's book, which as I understand it, is a classic in terms of knowing excessive amounts of cooking science.

Otherwise, just read forums and ask questions.
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Old 04-05-2006, 08:32 PM   #20
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Did you get Altons book at a bookstore? What did It cost?

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