I’ve got the back to school bug. I haven’t been a student in what feels like forever and yet come every September, I get this sudden onset of half-giddy, half-nervous energy like I’m about to have to pick out a killer first day of school outfit and find my locker. I’ve said it before, this time of year has always felt like more of a new year than January 1st and I’m very happy to be hitting that metaphorical “reset” button. I’m also happy to hit that literal “Buy” button, collecting new crisp notebooks and cookbooks to see my blogging into a fresh season.
Here’s a few reads I’ve been loving lately…
Recipes Into Type by Joan Whitman and Dolores Simon
Maybe it’s the Virgo in me that craves correction, improvement, and consistency but it really bothers me when I’m reading a recipe or a cookbook that hasn’t been carefully looked over. I know what it’s like to be in a kitchen, up to my elbows in dough, trying to read tiny confusing instructions on a page. I always want the recipes on this site to be as clear and considered as possible and this book is helping me achieve that. It’s a style guide for recipe and cookbook writers and if you’ve ever wondered how to correctly order an ingredient list or if you find it interesting that chives are not “chopped” they are “snipped”, then this book is for you. Nerd approved.
The Good Housekeeping book of Cake Decorating edited by Dorothy B. Marsh
I’m a total sucker for charming retro cake decorating. Side note: I post a lot of this kind of stuff on my Pinterest page if you’re likewise obsessed. This collection is from 1961 and contains a ton of full-page color illustrations of cakes that range from adorable to absurd. I have to admit I bought it because it has instructions to make a cake that looks like a kitten laying on a cushion and I want that. I don’t usually use these types of early cookbooks for recipes, as I find the ingredients and methods to be a little outdated. I take my inspiration from these sources and use my favorite recipes to ensure they taste as good as they look.
Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book
This is a re-issue of the original 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book and it is wonderful. I checked this one out of the library several times before I decided it needed a permanent home on my cookbook shelf. It is packed with recipes and illustrations and continues to be a go-to resource for my research. I used it for my Southern-Style Corn Pancakes w/ Ferry Farm Sauce and Cherry Pie with Hatchets and I know I will continue loving it for many years to come.
Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin
I’ve saved the best for last. If you’re looking up best books on food or books recommended by chefs you won’t make it very far without Laurie Colwin’s name popping up. This is comfort reading at its finest. A series of short essays with chapter titles like “Repulsive Dinners: A Memoir” and “Alone in the Kitchen with and Eggplant”, Colwin’s writing is somehow straightforward and poetic. I know it’s cliché but this book did make me laugh and it did make cry. Colwin was quite a prolific writer during her too-short life so you can bet I will be picking up More Home Cooking when I need a knockout comfort read this winter.
“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” Laurie Colwin