Big families eat a lot of food. I know this first hand because I am from a family of nine. My Mom needed and welcomed all the help she could get in the kitchen. Through her example she taught us that a well-run kitchen is essential in keeping calm in the chaos. Serving up delicious, nutritious meals was her forte and she accomplished this on a tight budget.
Mom encouraged my cooking skills when I was a young and always had handy the 1961 edition of “Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook”. Drooling over the food photographs and chuckling at the amusing illustrations was initially how I enjoyed spending time with Betty’s cookbook. As I got older I started reading the step-by-step instructions, studying the charts and kitchen know-how sections, slowly absorbing what I needed to understand about basic kitchen skills.
When I started my own home I needed my own cookbooks. Over the years I tried others but none were as good and reliable as Betty. In the late 1990s we were reunited at the local library’s book sale where I discovered a well-worn copy of the same 1961 edition. It was like finding a long lost friend.
Betty is still on my kitchen shelf for nostalgia’s sake. Now I need reliable cookbooks for today’s meals that are primarily plant based. When we first changed our diet I was looking for new and different ways to prepare nuts, beans, and seeds along with the full complement of vegetables and fruits. I already knew how to make a great spicy bean chili, a hearty soup and a delicious tomato sauce but I wanted new recipes to tempt the taste buds.
Over the years I’ve learned that having a good cookbook keeps me calm, and assists me in serving up delicious, nutritious meals on a budget. Cookbooks don’t have to be daunting; they can be fun to read. I still enjoy looking at the photographs and illustrations. At times recipes can inspire me but I don’t have the right ingredients on hand or I decide to substitute. This is where cookbooks can be a springboard to adapting new recipes to suit your taste and goals. As I have spent more time cooking, I’ve realized that most recipes are subject to change. It’s okay to adjust and substitute. I’ve learned to pencil in my changes in my cookbooks.
The following cookbooks are the ones on my kitchen bookshelf. Cookbooks like these may encourage you to adopt healthy cooking and eating habits. Some cooks like lots of illustrations and photos, others like reading stories or the history of a recipe. Some cooks need a primer on food shopping, kitchen setup and skills. Besides all of the above, I like learning what the nutritional benefits are to a specific recipe. Take a look, explore, read the online reviews, browse a bookstore or your library, and find cookbooks that suit you best.