Thursday, December 18, 2008

Best Cookbooks of 2008 and the Only One You Really Need to Make Family Dinner

The wonderful thing about beautiful cook books and impressive food blogs is that they celebrate good food, made at home. They can inspire, and encourage, you to try new things. Food porn jokes aside, it is great entertainment to leaf through a wonderful cooking book. Food and foodie blogs with those great photos are fun and useful in different ways. Search-able recipes on the Internet is the ultimate convenience as you try to figure out what to make for dinner on the fly. The bad thing, of course, is feeling intimidated by the complicated steps or ingredients and/or feeling like your own cooking can never live up to that standard.

This is one reason I have a renewed appreciation of Mark Bittman, both his books and his Bitten Blog. I used to feel like his books were a little too dumbed down. But our old Mark Bittman "How to Cook Everything" cookbook tells a different tale. Its pages are literally falling out of the binding and it is held together with old cooking grease and string, stained and strained from frequent use. Writing this blog and listening to parents who want to have family dinner but don't know where to begin, I have to recommend his cookbook as a great place to start. It's really is the only cookbook you need. Use his book and take his advice, like the French chef in "Ratatouille":
Anyone can cook, and everyone should.
Short-cuts, simple steps, and quick cooking tips are the way to make cooking everyday work for busy families. Plus, unlike so many of the recipes that pop up on Cooks.com, you can really count on him. Nothing spells home-cooking disaster more than a "quick & easy" recipe that turns out to be inedible. Get down the basics, then added flourishes, steps, or new ingredients to keep it interesting. Bittman's new revised edition will be under our tree this year and will again be pressed into service. (Here's a review from Cookbooks We Love, to show I'm not the only one who feels this way!)

A quick round-up of other recommended 2008 cookbooks or blogs to give or to treat yourself to, especially if you already own and use Bittman!

Best Blogs for Foodies, Tara Parker-Pope, NYT Well Blog, 12.12.08
Bon Appetit's Blog Envy, List of great food blogs, 12.08

Best Cookbooks of 2008 from:
NPR
epicurious
Project Foodie: Baking
Cookbooks for Your Holiday Gift List, Tara Parker-Pope, NYT Well Blog, 12.02.08
Food and Wine
Al Dente Blog's report on Amazon's 2008 List

And in the "No Excuses" category:
So Your Kitchen's Tiny. So What? Mark Bittman, NYT, 12.13.08
Anatomy of a Minimalist Column, Mark Bittman, NYT Bitten Blog, 11.17.08

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