1. How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman– This is the very first cookbook I ever bought for Jeff. It addresses the basics of cooking in a no-nonsense way, and each recipe has a section with optional ways to customize the dish and give new inspiration. It’s a great reference book to have on-hand, and I love Mark Bitman’s straightforward writing style. Having everything laid out like this made the idea of cooking a meal much less daunting for my husband when he was just getting started in the kitchen. It explained everything really concisely, and made it approachable.
3. Hunt Gather Cook by Hank Shaw– OK, so I have to admit right here that Jeff has yet to cook a recipe from this book. But this one is about so much more than recipes– it is a pleasure and an adventure to read. A few times, I have come across Amelia sitting on Jeff’s lap, listening to him read this one aloud to her. Granted, she has the ear for interpreting cookbooks as amazing food stories– but this one is a lot of fun. We have yet to gather acorns to leech and grind into flour, but the ideas are exciting, and really educational. Hank Shaw will teach you how to find the wild foods around you, how to hunt or gather them, and how to make them into an unforgettable meal. We would like to get into more wild food and game, and this will be a great guide.
4. 4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss– This book was a Christmas present for my husband last year, and it’s actually about a whole lot more than cooking. Tim Ferriss writes about how to learn to do something and then applies it to cooking. It’s pretty complete, in terms of outlining the basics of tools needed, basic techniques, making shopping lists, and tips from pros. There are lots of cool tips and hacks for making things easier or more impressive. It’s a fun book, and pretty fascinating.
And now for the ones that are on the wishlist. We don’t own them yet, but I have looked through all of them and will be acquiring them this year.
6. The Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall– First of all, if you haven’t watched an episode of River Cottage yet, you have to go check it out. This is one of our very favorite shows, and we have watched ever single one of them, as far as I know. Our favorite series was the one about meat butchery, in which Hugh and his butcher friend break down and prepare all kinds of animals. This is the book version of that, and an excellent guide for anyone who is interested in doing some of their own butchery. Even if you don’t want to butcher, this provides a great reference for getting familiar with each cut, and how to bring out all the best virtues of your meats as you cook them. I love the sustainability angle of this book, and Hugh’s commitment to using all of the animal as the best way to respect its life.