Thursday, May 5, 2011

Winners and Losers--7 Cookbooks Voted off the Island

I got two new cookbooks recently. I mentioned The New Fast Food by Jill Nussinow in this post; well, one of the great things about Jill's book is it's an ebook and it doesn't take up shelf space. Jill's book also has lots of great recipes that will inspire me with my new pressure cooker. The other cookbook I got recently was Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson. I haven't studied the recipes yet, but right now, it looks like this book may also remain on my cookbook shelf five years from now.

With limited shelf space, I frequently weed out books that I no longer useful or find inspiring. And ever since I started reading this blog about pairing down 7 things each week, I decided to find seven cookbooks to send packing.

Here's the list:

1.Low Cost Main Dishes
I bought this book at a library sale for 50 cents. The words "low-cost" initially caught my eye, but just about every recipe contains meat, fish or poultry and many recipes list processed ingredients like Campbell's soup. I'm not sure why I took a chance on this book because the food photography makes savory dishes look like dog food, and I can't remember ever finding a decent recipe in Family Circle, not any recipe I'd ever make anyway.

2. Vegetarian Burgers
If I want a vegetarian burger, it means I didn't really have anything planned for dinner. I usually reach for some version of Amy's burgers. I haven't opened this little book in years, partly because the recipes seem to fussy.

3. Taste of Nations
Note to organizations: when you compile recipes from your "talented staff" please invite folks to come up with something better than Best Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich and American Plains Oatmeal--if you need those kinds of recipes, you seriously need some cooking classes. Never used and uninspiring--maybe it was one of those "free" cookbooks, I can't remember purchasing it.

4. The Book of Vegetarian Cooking

5. The Heritage Collection of Home Tested Recipes
I got both of these books at book sales. I'm sure people let them go the first time around because they have mediocre recipes and not very many tips to qualify them as "keepers."

6. Native Foods Restaurant Cookbook
This cookbook was on the edge, I couldn't decide--stay or go--it could have gone either way. I might copy a few of the recipes I actually liked before I donate this book. One of the recipes that intrigued me was Deborah Madison's Garden Dressing with pie cherries, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pistachios, mint, onion, and maple syrup--anything with pie cherries has my attention. But many of the recipes seemed aimed at new vegetarians (too much tofu and seitan not enough vegetables) and sometimes it seemed a little preachy about animal rights issues.

7. Sunset Gifts from Your Kitchen
It's been a long time since I've opened this book for inspiration. I used to use to pass this one around for the "Gifts from Your Kitchen" cooking classes I taught back in the 90s, but since I haven't opened it since the 90s, I say "Sianara."

I'll donate all the books to the Friends of Edmonds Library book sale. I've gotten lots of books from this annual sale in the past; come to think of it, a few on this came from that annual sale.

Which books survived the cut?
Which are still shelf worthy? Of course the Joy of Cooking and the old Better Homes and Gardens that I've carted around for years have a lifttime pass, but here are seven books that I've looked to repeatedly in this past year for inspiration or information.

1. Vegetable Love by Barbara Kafka
2. How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
3. Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
4. The South American Table by Maria Baez Kijac
5. The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash
6. Oven-Baked Vegetarian Dishes by Gabriele Redden

But wait there's more.

7. The Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook by Debra Daniels-Zeller (2010, Timber Press), and Local Vegetarian Cooking (2004, LOC Press). I know, a shameless product placement maybe you weren't expecting, right? But the truth is I often look at my recipes for inspiration because these are the ones I use everyday whether it's soup or cobbler. I like my versions as it and I also like to tweak my own recipes and create something new.

What would you get rid of on your cookbook shelf? What cookbook really inspires you?


Mallory said...

I just met Heidi Swanson this past weekend at her Seattle book signing event! I have all three of her cookbooks and I find them, along with your book, to be my best inspiration.

I also have two cookbooks, World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey and Mangoes and Curry Leaves by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid that have introduced me to great ethnic flavors and spices.

ddzeller said...

Oh, I'm so jealous, I had other plans and didn't get to go see her, but I'm crazy about her new book. I don't have her other books, but I follow her blog and love the her healthy recipes and inspiring photos. I have Madhur Jarrrey's World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking--thanks for those other great suggestions. I'll check those out! We should meet up sometime.