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Mar 12, 2012 02:49 PM

Your most prized recipe book and why.

I have a small but good selection of cook books including of course the 'Larousse and 'Escoffier' books and Julia's and Jacque's books but the one I most prize and have been using for a decade is Thomas Keller's The French Laundry. The recipes are easy to follow and the results are always delicious. Do you have a really great cook book you'd recommend?

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    1. re: fourunder

      I do and apparently millions of other do to. I wouldn't cook a 'Keller' recipe every week or even every month but when I want to prepare a really special dinner I go to TFL.

    2. I have 3. The French Laundry is the one I would most like to emulate, but can't. The Ad Hoc at Home is the one I usually scan through to get a new idea, since Keller's recipies here are much more approachable, and the book is every bit as beautiful as the French Laundry cookbook. The one I use the most, when I want to know how to cook something basic, is the Fanny Farmer cookbook.

      1. New 'favourites' all the time as I experiment with sushi, Portuguese cuisine and 'fun with foam', but my constant culinary companions?

        -Joy of Cooking for 'how to'

        -Julia for anytime I need to fall in love with technique again.

        But my quirky favourite is a series from Farm Journal Magazine: the Farm Journal Cookbooks held my hand through the first meal I ever cooked for my husband, the wedding cake recipe we later baked together, my 'famous' homemade sausage, crabapple jelly and apple pie recipes, the first recipes I taught my daughter and the inspiration for a thousand other meals that celebrated engagements, homecomings, graduations, sustained pals through illness and divorce, and, yes, graced funeral receptions, too...all using home-grown local products...though they are American and I am Canadian, the timeless wisdom (and the smiles from out-moded ingredients) crosses borders and decades.

        4 Replies
        1. re: LJS

          lovely post, LJS; speaking to all the love and heart and memories that are the backbone of home cooking.

          It is in the memories made in the cooking, the eating, and the sharing of love and creativity that bring the kitchen to the heart of things fo so many of us.

          Is this series anything a person could get a hold of? I would appreciate any further information on a source that can bring you everything from 'famous' sausage to crabapple jelly:)

          I collect regional and those mostly-spiral-bound cookbooks put out by churches, grange halls, elks clubs, etc... many vintage ones. Your series sounds like it would be a treasure to have.

          1. re: gingershelley

            The Farm Journal series includes everything from specialty books like Farm Journal's Complete Pie Cookbook (Buttermilk Pie in Cornmeal Pastry-page 118) to an all purpose recipe sources- Farm Journal's Country Cookbook (Homemade Pork Sausage-page 41).

            I bought one new in 1971 and then got the rest of my collection (8 titles in total) in second-hand book shops over the years. Mostly in small towns in New England, though the magazine itself was big with farmers and farmer's spouses in towns throughout the mid-West and in the South until the very early 80's, I believe.

            Admittedly, there is a tendency to drape things in jello or add a can of mushrooms, but there are also introductions to the lost art of rendering your own lard, and cooking a Brunswick Stew (real squirrels!).

            I never spend 10 minutes with this set of books without smiling!

            1. re: LJS

              I have several too and I treasure them.

          2. re: LJS


            I picked up the Farm Journal's Country Cookbook (1959) at a garage sale. To my amazement, my family's prized Christmas cookie recipes were all there! It's wonderful. Lots of memories.

          3. My most prized cookbook is my own binder full of recipes I love and find reliable. After collecting recipes and cookbooks for decades, I decided to type out the true keepers and put them in one spot, and I can highly recommend doing that. Only problem is that it keeps growing.....

            1. Paris Boulangerie-Patisserie by Linda Dannenberg. Because this book boils down and makes accessible wonderful recipes from the best bakeries in Paris, from an era when everything was really top-notch.