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Bittman's How to Cook Everything - opinions?

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Saw the book at Costco and was wondering what the general feeling for this book is. I was thinking of getting one for myself, but also getting one for the 17 year-old son of a friend. He loves to cook and will be off to university soon. Would this book be just as appropriate for a reasonable cook as it would be for someone just getting started in the kitchen?

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  1. Yes, it's a great book. My husband is more of a novice cook, and I am pretty experienced, but both of us will page through our copy looking for inspiration for nice suppers. His beef brisket recipe and mustard chicken thighs, along with his pad thai and his peanut noodles are all excellent.

    1. The Bittman book is a great all-purpose book for someone who already knows a few of the basics and can work their way around a kitchen. So it depends on how much cooking experience this kid has. I, personally, bought it for my son about a year or two after he left home and he loves it. But if the 17-year-old hasn't really had to cook much on his own, it may be more appropriate to give him something less enormous and comprehensive that covers kitchen basics, including how to shop, clean up etc. In my experience, when kids move out on their own they need more extremely fundamental information than you'd think they would.

      Look for a book called Clueless in the Kitchen. It's meant for exactly that demographic. Buy the Bittman book for yourself and, if the price is right, buy a second one to keep on hand until this 17 year old is ready to move up a notch.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Nyleve

        Thanks! He's actually fairly accomplished in the kitchen -- more on the dessert end of things (makes a mean pastry crust, creme brulee, sabayon, fruit pies, etc.), but certainly aware of other basic cooking techniques like roasting and grilling. So I think he may be ready for this book to help him expand his horizons.

        1. re: TorontoJo

          I love to hear about young people being good cooks. I always told my boys that learning how to cook well is the biggest babe-magnet there is. For some reason, this is more true for guys who can cook than girls. I guess girls are "expected" to know how, while guys are supposed to survive on beer and take-out pizza. I'm sure he'll enjoy the book - I love it.

          1. re: Nyleve

            LOL! Yes, his mother and I have discussed that he will do well with the girls in the future... once he gets out of his gawky "I-grew-ten-inches-in-two-years" teenager stage!

      2. I love this book and think it would be a great all-purpose cookbook for a person learning to cook. It has detailed instructions on process, which is what would make it good for somebody learning to cook, but also has lots of interesting and varied recipes. I just posted a thread last week about the first perfect steak I've ever made, and it was based on Bittman's recipe from this book.

        Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

        1. i bought the book recently, and i've found it most useful as a guide to specific ingredients or procedures i'm unfamiliar with. i've found that i haven't loved the end products, but i've learned from the book and am better prepared to improvise because of it.

          1. I think it would make a great all-purpose cookbook for someone new to cooking. It has the basics and variations. I use it more often than my ancient Joy of Cooking for basic reference.