Thursday, January 7, 2010

It's true. I'm a cookbook junkie and my family knows it. Fortunately, they indulge me. Why? Well, I'd say there's a payoff there...let me read cookbooks, try new recipes and they get to reap the benefits as long as the new recipe isn't a total flop. See the connection? They know a good thing when they see it.

For Christmas I received two new additions to my ever-growing cookbook collection. And they're not small potatoes either.

Daughter, Alison, gave me this fabulous collection of recipes from Gourmet. I think the first thing I said to her was, "Grandma Rachel would be so proud of you for selecting this." And it's true. Grandma was a subscriber to this magazine for years. My grandma was a cook, a good cook. Not only did she do it to earn a paycheck but she did it at home too. A mother to 8 (6 boys, 2 girls) she got plenty of hands-on experience. And it was during the depression. She knew how to make a meal stretch. Then at some point she figured she may as well get paid for it so she took a job as the head cook for the local school district. I hate to say it but I don't know how many years she was there but it was a long time. To this day I still come into contact with people that remember my grandma cooking their hot lunch for them during their school days. And, as her family grew to include inlaws, grandchildren and the like, she continued to cook special Sunday meals for anybody that could make it. Her usual fare included a baked ham with a yummy glaze. And a relish plate with lots of radishes and salt to dip them in (a German thing). For dessert there would be poppy-seed rolls (Ma Kuchen is the German term, I think), still a favorite of mine to this day, and at Christmas she always made Peppernuts (no small feat, mind you) (Pfefferminz in German).

Ok, sorry. Got side-tracked there with talk about Grandma. Back to the book.

It's quite a collection of recipes. More than 1000. I started reading it but have yet to get through it. It's a really big book. A large percentage of the recipes are what the title of the book infers -- gourmet. Not the style of cooking I do on a regular basis but there are several recipes that I've already flagged as a must to try. It's definitely good reading material for one who reads cookbooks like novels and that would be me.

The second book, America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, was a gift from Lawman. I'd been dropping hints for weeks that this was a high priority item on my list. I practically drew him a floor plan of the bookstore so he'd know exactly where to find it. How's that for subtle?

Now this book will see lots of use in my kitchen. The recipes are practical. Ingredient lists contain items that can be found on most grocery store shelves. Not alot of fancy steps from start to finish. Now, it's not all weekday fare here. There's fancy recipes for lambchops and the like if you need to dress a meal up a bit to impress someone really important that will be gracing you with their presence. But, I also think that the weekday meals are ones that you can share with company. I'm not one to slave all day over a meal that will be devoured in 30 minutes or less. Another feature it includes is a focus on kitchen equipment and ingredients that ranked highest in their test kitchens. Pretty usefull stuff.

Do you own either of these books? If so, I'd love to hear what your favorite recipes are out of them so I can be sure to try them.


Michelle @ Give a Girl a Fig said...

What nice gifts!! I am a cookbook junkie, too...and my family knows it, too! I have America's Test Kitchen...and I admit I've never followed a recipe from start to finish. I mainly use it as I use all of my other cookbooks. Maybe I should make another resolution..."follow a new recipe once a month."?

Anonymous said...

that is my biggest pet peeve about cooking - when the meal is over within minutes. I have been toiling with an earlier dinner time. I don't have a favorite cookbook - although - I do like those Everyday Foods

Jenni said...

I don't own either and I've been slowly weeding out cookbooks. You see, most of the time I have to have a full color photo of each and every dish to be inticed to try it. That's why I like so many of the cooking blogs and websites. They're usually big on photos.

A friend did get me a subscription to Gourmet last year which transferred to Bon Appetit when Gourmet stopped publishing. Some of it seems way too fancy or expensive, but quite a few of the recipes just look that way. It's been fun trying some of them.

Now about those peppernuts, I've always heard them called pfeffernussen. I'm going to have to look up this other name to find its origin. I still have half a post on how to make peppernuts waiting. I think I'll finish it and schedule it to post the day after Thanksgiving. Maybe I'll do a whole set of posts ahead for the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's so my blog won't sit empty so long this year.

Unknown said...

I wish I remembered more about Grandma Rachel. I really only remember sitting in her attic. I look at pictures of her house all the time though. Let me know how you like these cook books. I got new cookware for Christmas and have been told numerous times that I must put it too good use.

Minnie said...

I almost bought America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook recently.

It's still on my "maybe list." I'll be interested to hear what you think of it.

Anonymous said...

i am drooling over both of them. i limited to one (since i bought so many used over the year and my aunt gave me about seven from her overflowing collection last summer) but i had to get the Pioneer Woman cookbook and my grandmother got it for me for Christmas.

My mother gave me her collection of Gourmet and Bon Appetit magazines, like four years of each and you should see them, they are lined up in containers on my bookshelf with little flags sticking out all over the place. I had two recipes from a Bon Appetit for Christmas and they were big hits.

congratulations it looks like your family is going to eat well this year!

p.s. i love the stories about your Grandma and how food is passed down through the family.