more cookbook questions--slow cookers? veg?
i have a few variations on cookbook questions and didn't want to take the super informative post below too off track--
my sister is a cooking novice. she eats out a lot, or has prepared stuff, and simple cooking tasks take a lot of futz-ing and fussing. she has a slow cooker and was tempted by the cookbook "fix it and forget about it" does anyone have experience with this book? any other slow cooker cook book recommendations? key here would be deliciousness with simple, low maintenance recipes.
then for me. i love to cook, cook only vegetarian food, and really never use recipes or cookbooks. i'm also a fat girl who tries to cook healthy/lower fat foods, but likes deliciousness. i'd like to expand my vegetable repertoire (y'all just taught me about celery roots, and there's a whole world of parsnips and rutabagas and new strange things out there) and do new things with the vegetables i know and love. the roasted vegetables, balsamic, or lemon/wine/olive oil thing is a rut i'd like to learn my way out of. the zuni cafe cook book, the simple batali, the hazan and the julia child tempt, but i think it's mostly from reading all of your culinary escapades in awe. do you think that those are right for what i've described? other suggestions?
important things are exactly what carb lover was talking about-- inspiring me to cook, and wanting to use it in the kitchen
thanks all, as always, for indulging me, and for being such friendly incredible cookers
I love Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. It's perfect for me because everything's delicious but not so esoteric that I can't source ingredients.
The book does a good job of balancing between using unusual ingredients and providing enough simple basic recipes using nothing even remotely unusual. And when an unusual ingredient is used, it's usually the only weird ingredient in the bunch. That makes it easier to experiment with a new flavor, and is easier on the wallet since such things tend to cost more.
What I also love is that the instructions are clear, easy to follow, and written in a casual tone. No preaching, and it's not too stuffy.
The book also has chapters devoted to stocking your pantry, describing basic vegetables, herbs, and spices, and stocking a kitchen with basics. Everything she says is really reasonable and geared toward the dedicated but by no means rich home chef. Check it out of the library; from what I've read on thsi board, VTCE is a great choice for a home cook who likes simple flavors, whereas some of her other books have more complicated, restaurant-suitable preparations.
Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison has numerous fans on this board. To be honest though, I owned it for a couple years (inherited from a friend who didn't use it) and never really got into it.
I made a few of the dips, spreads, and breakfast items but found them a little bland or generic. If you're creative and have good instincts, then you'll be able to doctor any recipes that aren't quite up to par. In the end, the book didn't inspire me so I passed it on at the CH picnic cookbook swap. Bottom line: check it out at your library or bookstore first. You could also look into Madison's other books. Local Flavors (see link) sounds good to me...
My sister sounds kinda like yours, although my sis has moved beyond her slow cooker and is enjoying her upgrade to Le Creuset dutch ovens! She loves to braise things now b/c it isn't fussy and always leads to tasty results. If you think your sis would be interested, you should look into All About Braising by Molly Stevens. I'm interested in this book myself and there have been some good reports here about the recipes.
As a former vegetarian, I acquired a lot of vegetarian cookbooks, but I have since gotten rid of most of them. I kept deborah madison's vegetarian cooking for everyone because it is a comprehensive resource. I don't cook out of it very often though - I find it a little fussy. I also kept her earlier book, the savory way, and i like that one better - very interesting recipes in there. I think the greens cookbook is very good also. I also kept an annie sommerville book from the greens restaurant (forget the name), which i like and still occasionally use. Two other good ones are madhur jaffrey's world vegetarian and a jack bishop book - either italian vegetarian or vegetables every day. If you want to explore new vegetables, you might want to take a look at chez panisse vegetables or vegetables from amaranth to zucchini - neither of these are vegetarian but they are vegetable-focused and have a good proportion of veggie recipes. I don't think julia child would suit you well at all - not enough variation in the veggies, and they are mostly meant to accompany meat. And forget about Mario as well - he slips meat into almost everything, or if not meat then a ton of oil. You could try zuni and marcella - both have some very good recipes that happen to be veggie or could easily be modified - but i would check the books out of the library first. You will only be able to use about 1/4 of the recipes in the book - if that - if you use them all the time it might be worth it. When I cooked vegetarian I definitely preferred to use books intended for vegetarians. Oh - and I recently got Lydia Bastianich's latest book, and it has mostly veg recipes - including a very interesting, comprehensive section on making pasta from different kinds of flours - many quick veggie pasta sauces and a couple of long-cooked ones - and some good sauces for skillet-cooked vegetables (e.g. "elixirs" made from garden vegetables, other sauces made from lemon or orange rinds, etc.), and some intriguing (to me) ideas for using stale bread to make lasagna and pizza-like dishes.