I started to entitle this “My Five Dirtiest Cookbooks,” but did not want to give anyone the wrong impression! The fact is, the best cookbooks do get to be pretty messed up from constant use. There are five such books in my kitchen, and I’d like to share them with you, hoping you find them helpful as well.
Number one has got to be Whole Foods for the Whole Family, edited by Roberta Bishop Johnson and published by La Leche League (LLL.) Because LLL promotes breastfeeding, they also promote healthy eating habits for mothers and the entire family. All recipes use natural, whole foods and are organized by meal-breakfast, lunch, and dinner (this translates to breakfast, dinner, and supper for those of us who grew up on a farm!) More importantly, the cookbook teaches you exactly how to use these foods. There is extensive information on bread baking, dry bean cooking, and the use of whole grains. A great variety of ethnic recipes are included-African, Mediterranean, Caribbean, and more.
Number two is Cookin’ with Home Storage by Vicki Tate and Peggy Layton. This book emphasizes use of basic survival foods like rice, dry beans, and dehydrated vegetables and fruits. The authors are Mormon, and have included information on safely storing food for emergencies.
Book number three comes from a different religious tradition-the Amish. Amish Friends Cookbook by Wanda E. Brunstetter includes hearty main dishes and desserts from generations of Amish farm wives. My copy was purchased at a Bob Evan’s restaurant in Indiana. Also from a similar group, the Mennonites, comes Cooking for Crowds, published by Melvin and Miriam Heatwole and printed by CMCO Publications (Box 271, Barwick, ON POW 1A0, Canada.) This little book has recipes from church kitchens that serve from 30 to 100 people. There is even a complete plan for a wedding reception for 100.
My final favorite is Once-a-Month Cooking by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg. For the disorganized among us, Mimi and Mary Beth have done all the work. There are two complete months of menu plans, two 2-week plans for those who are hesitant about an entire month of freezer meals, and shopping lists for all. The books leads you through “cooking day” so you are not overwhelmed.
These five cookbooks are the items I would grab if my kitchen caught fire. You can find most of the books on Amazon.com. Each book has a unique purpose in my kitchen, and I recommend them as shower gifts or for young adults setting up housekeeping.