College Cook needs YOUR help! :)

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CollegeCook

Assistant Cook
Joined
Oct 12, 2004
Messages
4
Hi everyone, how are you all doing today?

I'm here for two reasons: I am nurturing my love of cooking and decided that this seemed like a great community to be a part of. And, because I'd like some help, so I decided to come to you, the experts.

I don't know how many of rely on cookbooks, but I'm sure you're all familiar with The Joy of Cooking. Gourmet Magazine has published, "The Gourmet Cookbook," a cookbook which they hope will replace The Joy of Cooking as the classic standard all-purpose cookbook.

For one of my midterms, I have chosen to write a detailed report on The Gourmet Cookbook, and am hoping to gain insight on what people (besides just myself) look for in a cookbook.

What do you like in a cookbook? What don't you like?

Would you buy The Gourmet Cookbook? Why? Why not?

Why do you have The Joy of Cooking? Why not?

What has made The Joy of Cooking such a time-honored classic?

I realize this is a lot to ask of you, especially being such a new face in your community here. If you could spare a few seconds, please share some of your thoughts and insights with me, as I am a new college cook with little/no experience beyond what my mom and grandma have passed down to me.

Anything you can contribute would serve to strengthen my report, and I am almost as passionate as doing a good job on this assignment as I am about learning how to cook.

Thanks for your time, sorry to be so wordy.
 

mudbug

Chef Extraordinaire
Joined
Sep 9, 2004
Messages
11,166
Location
NoVA, beyond the Beltway
Wow! tall order. I appreciate your enthusiasm, though (and welcome).

I have "Joy", given as a gift. Don't have the new Gourmet book - saw it at Costco the other day and already didn't like the typeface used for names of recipes (too light and hard to read).

Some cookbooks are fun to read just for how they are written, especially old ones. The old-fashioned techniques and ingredients knock me out.

"Modern" cookbooks are useful to me when they:

Have pictures showing how to do something or what the dish should look like

Have easily understood directions

Contain a glossary for technical terms

Have a decent index so you can find something particular in a hurry

Hope this helps. Good luck to you in doing your paper!
 

Otter

Sous Chef
Joined
Sep 1, 2004
Messages
973
Location
USA,Minnesota
Regarding preferences, I like the same things mudbug does. Regarding Joy of Cooking, I'm not really fond of it. I don't know about all versions, but I have the 6.5" x 9.5" comb bound version. I don't like the paper, it is thinner (a negative to me because I like to hilite) and not as white as other cookbooks. I also dislike that for every recipe it seems to say "see this on page 45 and that on page 286). I also don't like the lack of pictures - if they couldn't do color, at least they could have done black and white. On top of all that, the type is w-a-y too small.
 

kitchenelf

Chef Extraordinaire
Joined
Feb 21, 2002
Messages
19,722
Location
North Carolina
What I look for in a cookbook is pictures. I think it helps to know how the finished product should look and let's face it, names of some recipes just aren't that appealing - but the pictures can captivate you.

I look for a section on conversions, maybe a food glossary of items used in the cookbook, and an index that is VERY detailed.

Gotta finish cooking dinner - I'll be back with more thoughts.

Edited to add - I will be getting the new Gourmet book. I subscribe to the magazine - have for years - and find that the recipes are usually on the "interesting" side without being hard to make. And the Joy of Cooking is a great basic cookbook. If you're not sure what temperature rare lamb should be cooked to, or med-rare roast, etc. this is where you go.
 

jkath

Hospitality Queen
Joined
Sep 2, 2004
Messages
11,447
Location
Southern California
What do you like in a cookbook?

- I like photos of each item, so I can tell at a glance:
1) if it looks appealing
2) how it's supposed to appear

What don't you like?
-I don't care for those that have hard-to-find ingredients, or those that only a small local community has. I also don't like those that have 94 steps to the final finished product.

Would you buy The Gourmet Cookbook?
-No!
Why not?
-I subscribe to Gourmet, and I will admit, it was my error. I've always thought the covers were lovely, but after looking through, it tends to be a bit uppity for me, the typical homemaker. I do have some of the older gourmet annual cookbooks, but they collect dust. The new cookbook will probably mirror the same image, or at least that's my thinking. It seems that they tend to use high-end ingredients for many dishes as well.

Why do you have The Joy of Cooking?
- I had it, but gave it away.
It was okay, but not exciting to me.

What has made The Joy of Cooking such a time-honored classic?
-Honestly? I really think that it's all in the name. Folks have seen it for so many years, and their moms had it, so they purchase it on familiarity. It also seems to be a staple bridal shower gift.
 

jasonr

Senior Cook
Joined
Apr 8, 2004
Messages
375
A cookbook needs, above all, to be precise. It should provide measurements in mass, both metric and imperial, and should especially avoid airy-fairy terms like "pinch". It should give time estimates for every step, with precise instructions, leaving nothing to the imagination. Good quality color photos showing the finished product are also a big plus, as I like to see what it's supposed to look like, so I know what I'm aiming for. It should also provide substitutions for obscure ingredients, if possible. I also like a book that leaves me with room to improve. I like it when at least some of the recipes are beyond my ability, so I have something to work towards.
 

PolishedTopaz

Sous Chef
Joined
Aug 25, 2004
Messages
915
Location
East End of Long Island
First off..... WELCOME to this site and nice to have you here.

I do own The Joy of Cooking, I guess I bought it because my mom had it on the shelf now it does collect dust, I never refer to it.

Would I buy The Gourmet Cookbook? No. The mag itself I did subscribe to for a few years, but I too think it became to "fru fru" for an average home cook/reader like myself. Too much "hotel cooking" and "destinations" that I will never see. Don't get me wrong it is great for the jet set, but, it didn't work for me.

I seldom refer to a cookbook unless I am looking for a specific recipe. What I do look for are; steamlined instructions, basic ingredients that can be found at my local market [have to admit i'm lucky in this department considering how rural i am] if a step is complicated a "how too" photo will help quite a bit and a glossary so I can find what I am looking for at a glance. I don't need pictures of a finished dish, I can picture things well in my mind.

Cookbooks tend to get stale/old in techniques and flavors, I like to stay up to date on food, flavors and trends weather I use them or not, so I like to subscribe to mags. They are in my opinion closer to the pulse of modern day cooking.

I'm not an expert, and will never claim to be one, but, I DO cook and I am PASSIONATE about it just like you. My cooking is basic for the most part but always cooked with pride.
 

norgeskog

Washing Up
Joined
Aug 28, 2004
Messages
3,615
Location
Eugene, Oregon
I do not have either cookbook, saw Joy of Cooking at a friends house once, scanned thru and did not like it and it was so long ago I do not remember why.

I am an incurable collector, and some cookbooks are on my shelf from chefs I am particularly fond of, i.e., Sara Moulton (SM COoks at home), Alice Waters (Chez Pannisse), Julia Child (The Way to Cook), The Frugal Gourmet (two of them), Eat the Norway, Kitchen of Light, Everything Thai, 12 volume alphabetical Woman's Day World Cookbooks. I like a variety of foods and tastes and cook only from scratch so I do use cookbooks when my creative brain is not functioning. I will use a recipe once and then alter it the next time to my taste if needed.
 

Weeks

Senior Cook
Joined
Oct 7, 2004
Messages
143
Location
Hattiesburg, MS
CollegeCook said:
What do you like in a cookbook? What don't you like?

I don't generally buy "cookbooks" per se, but books about regional cuisine, spices, ingredients and techniques. So, as such, I like a wide selection of tastes and textures to choose from. I enjoy good writing on utilization of the flavors in experimentation as well.

In the case of, say, Francis Mayes' Bringing Tuscany Home: Sensuous Style from the Heart of Italy, Mrs Mayes only has 25 "recipes" in her book. Instead of the endless droning of recipes, she writes about wines and their interaction with the cuisine of Tuscany, Italy. She talks about the ways the Tuscan people utilize zucchini, pastas, tomatoes (roma and otherwise) in their cooking. She discusses the herbs and spices that grow in the hills there, and the history of their use in Tuscan cuisine.

These are the "cookbooks" that I enjoy. I dislike cooking from recipes, and am more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants cook than anything. I want to know ratios, I want to know general practices, so that when I'm cooking, I can experiment effectively.
 

amber

Executive Chef
Joined
Aug 26, 2004
Messages
4,099
Location
USA,Maine
CollegeCook said:
Hi everyone, how are you all doing today?

I'm here for two reasons: I am nurturing my love of cooking and decided that this seemed like a great community to be a part of. And, because I'd like some help, so I decided to come to you, the experts.

I don't know how many of rely on cookbooks, but I'm sure you're all familiar with The Joy of Cooking. Gourmet Magazine has published, "The Gourmet Cookbook," a cookbook which they hope will replace The Joy of Cooking as the classic standard all-purpose cookbook.

For one of my midterms, I have chosen to write a detailed report on The Gourmet Cookbook, and am hoping to gain insight on what people (besides just myself) look for in a cookbook.

What do you like in a cookbook? What don't you like?

Would you buy The Gourmet Cookbook? Why? Why not?

Why do you have The Joy of Cooking? Why not?

What has made The Joy of Cooking such a time-honored classic?

I realize this is a lot to ask of you, especially being such a new face in your community here. If you could spare a few seconds, please share some of your thoughts and insights with me, as I am a new college cook with little/no experience beyond what my mom and grandma have passed down to me.

Anything you can contribute would serve to strengthen my report, and I am almost as passionate as doing a good job on this assignment as I am about learning how to cook.

Thanks for your time, sorry to be so wordy.

What I like in a cookbook:

Colour photos of the dish
Minimal ingredients
thick paper, not a cheap paper cookbook
easy to read text, bold print
a reputable author that has been around for ages
a conversion chart for measurements ( I dont know metric measurements)
 

thumpershere2

Head Chef
Joined
Sep 13, 2004
Messages
1,285
Location
USA,Minnesota
I do not have the cook books but I have several old cook books i use alot. I now look for books that have the more simple ingredients that I can find in my super market. I like books that show a picture and simple instructions and easy to read. I don't care for the fancy recipes that take forever to make and do not appeal to a hungary man.
 

Michael in FtW

Master Chef
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Sep 5, 2004
Messages
6,592
Location
Fort Worth, TX
The Joy of Cooking is a classic because it is not just a collection of recipes - it is a culinary primer. The only thing that will bring it down from it's status is Irma Rombauer's decendents - who have dropped a lot of what made the original valuable in their "New" Joy of Cooking. Food is more than recipes and pictures of restaurant plated presentations ... it's understanding the real components of the dish .. the food items that comprise the dish.

" ... it is definitely number one on my list ... the one book of all cookbooks in English that I would have on my shelf - if I could have but one." JULIA CHILD

Cookery first, and foremost, requires an understanding of the item being cooked. If you understand that then the techniques used to prepare it make sense ... and only then does a recipe mean anything. If you understand all of those things ... you don't need color pictures to show you how to plate it .... because plating is just another artistic expression. Just because you can copy a Picasso doesn't make it a Picasso.
 

Otter

Sous Chef
Joined
Sep 1, 2004
Messages
973
Location
USA,Minnesota
Although Michael made a credible case that you don't "need" pictures in a cookbook, I "want' them. I'm a visual person, and to me a picture is worth a thousand words. Seeing how good the end result will be helps me justify the time invested in the cooking process. Also, more than a few times in a restaurant I've decided what to have, but changed my choice when a dynamite-looking plate of something else went by on a serving tray.
 

masteraznchefjr

Sous Chef
Joined
Sep 2, 2004
Messages
785
Location
UCLA
well 3 more years and im in college, but i love cooking.
For a book book eh.... Recipies that are unique and original
 

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