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Sep 28, 2008 11:55 PM

Cooking Encyclopedia

Hi all,

I apologize if someone has posted the answer to this question before, but I scoured the site with no luck.

I'm looking for thorough kitchen reference book - something that would augment and complement a book like the Joy of Cooking.

I'm looking for a book that contains:

1) Definitions and explanations. Such as if a recipe says "to grill" it might mention that you could grill on the bbq, use an electric grill, grill on the stove top, etc - and the pros and cons of each method. I'd love to see a section dedicated to the different ways to "cut" something, slice vs chop vs mince vs julienne (something I can pass on to my novice sues chef - aka my boyfriend).

2) An ingredient dictionary with *substitutions*: Example last week I needed to find a substitute for Worcester sauce. I know one potential substitution molasses and vinegar - but since I also don't keep molasses around on a regular basis, it would also be useful to know that in a real pinch I could try soy sauce and sugar and to know how much of each to use. Another example is I grow a lot of my own herbs, so if a recipe were to call for dried oregano but I wanted to use fresh, what do I need to differently?

3) Other misc facts: All those other random things you end up needing to know - like this week I was trying to remember different smoke point of oils....

An extra bonus would be a fresh produce section that mentions how to store and prepare the random produce I've never heard of that I pick up on impulse at the farmer's market. This is the least of my priorities as I can already find a lot of that information is in the Joy of Cooking and through the local produce vendors at the markets.

I've browsed through the books on Amazon, but I couldn't tell from the descriptions if there was one book that covered it all.

Anyone have a reference book they can't live without? I really don't need anymore recipe books (but if their included no harm done). I really just want something quick and easy that I can pull off the shelf in the middle of cooking (rather that having to run out of the room to get on the internet).

I look forward to hearing your suggestions!

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    1. re: JasmineG

      I use my Food Lover's Companion quite often, and often find myself sitting with it for an hour or so after I find what I was looking for...just fliping through random entries.

      1. re: CeeBee

        Thanks for the suggestion!

        I looked through the table of contents on Amazon and it looks like it does have quite a bit of information in it. Does it do a good job of covering ingredient substitutions as well?

        From the looks of it, I could have definitely used the Food Lover's Companion on my last trip to Little India.

    2. For a quick online source that does a fair job of recommending substitutes, The Cooks Thesaurus is a pretty good complimentary reference.

      1 Reply
      1. re: hannaone

        Thanks! I use that site all the time. If only I could keep my computer in the kitchen or planned ahead better so I could research things before I started a recipe. Maybe I should invest in a laptop.... :)