HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Gift idea: looking for a good cookbook for my son [Moved from General Topics board]

  • s

My almost 14-year-old son likes to cook and enjoys watching Alton's "Good Eats", so I thought I'd get him one of Alton's cookbooks. I looked at them yesterday and they just didn't seem particularly inspiring or user-friendly. Does anyone have a good idea for a good first semi-serious cookbook to get for young son? I'm not really looking for a cooking-for-kids cookbook. I think he's a bit beyond that.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I would like to know this also. My kids want to learn, but my patience wears thin, trying to come up with new ideas. I know Rachael Ray has one geared towards children, but I haven't really looked through it.

    1. While I am really not a Rachael Ray basher, I have seen her book for kids and it is pretty awful. Kids would do much better with one of her regular books if she interests you.

      My suggestion would be a subscription to Everyday Food Magazine. Good recipes, simple prep, good pictures of everything, enough variety.
      Plus, it's always fun to get a new magazine every month!

      1 Reply
      1. re: fern

        My son's first cookbook was, The Way To Cook by Julia Child. Great first cookbook as it has both simple and diffacult recipes and tons of information on basic cooking skills...I would highly recommend it....and he still uses it to this day!

      2. Bittman's How to Cook Everything (there's even a scaled down "basics" one, but I'd go for the biggie), or...Clueless in the Kitchen by Evelyn Raab. (Firefly or Key Porter Books).

        2 Replies
        1. re: Nyleve

          Ditto on How to Cook Everything! Fun to read. I've given it as a gift to several beginning cooks and they've all loved it.

          1. re: oakjoan

            ditto again for Bittman's. If his reading level is at grade level it is a precise, thorough and entertaing book, and he could use it for years. I got this for my son, and he loved the scientific John McPhee style.

        2. Joy of Cooking. Not the 1997 edition, the 1975. You can get it in hardcover for $23 from Amazon. It may also come as a 2-volume paperback set, which might be cheaper, but I'd go with the hardcover if it's a gift. Nothing else even comes close for a beginning cook, because the recipes are meticulously tested and the information is all correct. It is something your son will use for the rest of his life. I have been cooking since I was his age; I'm 60 now, a very good cook, and I have a bunch of cookbooks. But I hardly ever use cookbooks, generally only as springboards for ideas, almost never for recipes. The only one I use regularly -- i.e., when I have a question about (or can't recall) how to do something, is Joy. Forget about Rachel Ray. Go with Mrs. Rombauer.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ozhead

            Agree with the Joy of Cooking. My (now) 23 year old son used to refer to mine all the time when he started to get interested in cooking several years ago so I got him a copy when he set up house this year. He uses it extensively. It is nice to have one book that covers about any subject you are interested in. And the recipes are not overly-complicated. I got him the edition that was just recently released, which I think is closer to the 1975 than the 1997 (which I have and don't really have a problem with!).

          2. I 2nd the Bittman book, How To Cook Everything. Its worth it for the roast chicken recipes alone.

            1. Thanks - those are great ideas. I gave the Bittman book to my dad once who wasn't all that thrilled with it for some reason, but I'm going to have another good look at it.

              1. I am an Ohioan, but am not really a "Joy" fan. Although Julia Child had several editions, so....

                My favorite is Marion Cunningham's "Fannie Farmer Cookbook". It's still where I go when I really need to know how to do something.

                5 Replies
                1. re: jmckee

                  What's the connection between being an Ohioan and being (or not being) a "Joy" fan? The Rombauers were Missourians, from St. Louis -- not all that far from Ohio, I guess, but not really that close, either.

                  And "Fannie Farmer" is, indeed, a fine reference work; it's not "Joy of Cooking," but it's close.

                  1. re: ozhead

                    Marion Rombauer Becker had a country home called "Cockaigne" in Anderson Township, near Cincinnati. I grew up in Anderson. In what is probably a typically parochial Ohio reaction, "Joy" has always enjoyed strong support and fandom in Ohio, particularly our Southwest corner. We do love our locals, mostly. Which is not always a good thing.

                    I have tried to look through "Joy", but I have never really felt drawn to it for some reason. Last year, I saw Julia Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian, and she had several editions, all with the spines taped and the edition written in large letters.

                    1. re: jmckee

                      Interesting aboout "Cockaigne" ... I didn't know that. In "Joy of Cooking," a few of the recipes are designated "Cockaigne" -- recipes that are either particularly wonderful, or that Rombauer and/or Becker loved the most. Now, the word "Cockaigne" refers to a mythical land of plenty and ease; I wonder if M. Becker named the country home after that mytical land, or named the recipes after the country home, or ... hmmm.

                      1. re: ozhead

                        I am pretty sure the latter at least is true; she did name favorites after the house. Which I think is kind of cool. If my house had a name I'd do the same thing!

                  2. re: jmckee

                    Wait...it's not the Ohio-Joy connection I'm confused about it's the Joy-Julia Child connection. Anyway - thanks to everyone - I ended up at B & N today and looked at several cookbooks and decided on Julia's "Way to Cook" - nice pics and lots of good basics.

                  3. I found another one that may be of some interest. Martha Stewarts cook book also has step by step instructions and full color pictures.

                    I don't know about you, but I very rarely use a recipe that doesn't have a picture. Which in turn leads me to only buy cookbooks with pictures.

                    1. "Basic Cooking" is great for beginners and has wonderful glossy color pictures. A classic bolognese, french fries, how to grill a great steak... all here.



                      1. Jamie Oliver's new book, Cook with Jamie. Lots of basics and photos. I bought it for a teenage boy and he's having fun with it. I believe all the profits go to his fifteen program as well.

                        1. As mentioned many times, Bittman's "How to Cook Everything" is a good one, but I'd also recommend Tom Colicchio's "Think Like A Chef". It's got great pictures, covers fairly simple recipes and will give him a broader base of knowledge than just recipes.