Author Topic: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb  (Read 6806 times)

stlbrah

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Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« on: July 28, 2015, 05:26:44 PM »
I am good at a few specific things, but I want to expand my knowledge and try a lot of new dishes. I used to see cooking as such a big hassle, but I have recently started to enjoy it and realize how good of a skill that culinary art is to have.

Please share your recommendations.

mulescent

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2015, 06:00:18 PM »
I have two suggestions:

-Mark Bittman's "How To Cook Everything" is a good primer.

-Watch Alton Brown's Good Eats.  I know you asked for a book, so maybe this suggestion isn't super helpful.  However, I learned a LOT of basic technique from him.

wordnerd

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2015, 06:17:08 PM »
Not quite what you asked, but I'll often think about an ingredient I want to use (usually produce or something near spoiling), and I'll search allrecipes.com for recipes containing the ingredient to get inspiration. Due to the ratings/crowdsourcing, there aren't a lot of duds. I also like to look at the comments on the recipe rated most helpful; there are usually some good tweaks/substitutions recommended that make the dish even better (or make up for an ingredient you're missing; I have rule against going to the store to pick up something for a recipe). You'll also see there are a lot of variations on the same dish and get ideas for using things in your kitchen.

horsepoor

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2015, 06:21:52 PM »
The Improvisational Cook by Sally Schneider is a good one.  While recipes are great, the real mustache muscle kicks in when you can grab ingredients out of your fridge and figure out how to make them work together.  Also, watching Chopped! can be fun and useful when it comes to combining unlikely ingredients.

Also, I haven't read it yet, but An Everlasting Meal:  Cooking with Economy and Grace, is one I've seen recommended here that sounds like a great resource.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/1439181888/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pd_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=16ALY5UKHRM5N&coliid=I2URM3WG19K9AL

http://www.amazon.com/Improvisational-Cook-Sally-Schneider/dp/0062025368/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1438129115&sr=8-1&keywords=improvisational+cook&pebp=1438129306812&perid=1JW43N8XE7MZJ8FFB561

Pigeon

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2015, 06:29:36 PM »
The Joy of Cooking will give you all the basics and you should  be able to easily find a used copy.

milesdividendmd

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2015, 06:30:22 PM »
The quickest way to learn how to cook  something is to actually see it being cooked.

Food wishes is and amazingly well edited video food blog with literally hundreds of recipes all shot in point of view perspective.

Check it out now!
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SandyBoxx

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2015, 06:38:58 PM »
I will second the Smitten Kitchen website, and my current favorite cookbook is Oh She Glows.  It is a vegan cookbook (we are not vegan or vegetarian) and she has simple delicious veggie recipes, with excellent pictures, and good tips for those of us that do not delight in spending time in the kitchen.  There are a ton of recipes on the Oh She Glows website as well, if you want a preview or do not want to pay for the book.

asiljoy

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2015, 06:45:46 PM »
I have two suggestions:

-Mark Bittman's "How To Cook Everything" is a good primer.

-Watch Alton Brown's Good Eats.  I know you asked for a book, so maybe this suggestion isn't super helpful.  However, I learned a LOT of basic technique from him.

Alton Browns cook books are pretty great too. Easy to follow and you learn a ton. FYI, Good Eats has a season on Netflix too.

Dee18

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2015, 07:19:40 PM »
My current fave is Thug Kitchen. This has led to many more vegetarian entrees in our house.

CommonCents

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2015, 07:23:44 PM »
Smitten Kitchen I agree is good (she actually made me like kale - try her salad!).
Also check out www.skinnytaste.com - healthy recipes that are super tasty.

grantmeaname

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2015, 07:49:45 PM »
I have two suggestions:

-Mark Bittman's "How To Cook Everything" is a good primer.

-Watch Alton Brown's Good Eats.  I know you asked for a book, so maybe this suggestion isn't super helpful.  However, I learned a LOT of basic technique from him.

Alton Browns cook books are pretty great too. Easy to follow and you learn a ton. FYI, Good Eats has a season on Netflix too.
These are two great suggestions. In addition to that I have a copy of the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook and Make the Bread, Buy the Butter. The first has much more illustration than Bittman and much more on technique, though the recipes are about the same quality. The second one has a little to get me started on cheesemaking, charcuterie, pickling, and yogurt-making; all good stuff to know but not in your typical cookbook.

Cressida

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2015, 12:04:34 AM »
-Mark Bittman's "How To Cook Everything" is a good primer.

I will never understand why people love this book so much. I had it for years and probably 10% of the recipes from it that I made were successful. The rest of the time, something was wildly wrong. Like, the dish/ingredient was extremely over- or underdone in the listed time (usually the latter), or the amount of liquid was extremely excessive or insufficient (usually the former), or something else disastrous. I concluded that Bittman doesn't actually test his recipes; he just throws together some quantities and times that seem right to him and sells them to the public.

And I am not the problem. I cook all the time and have had good success with America's Test Kitchen, Serious Eats, and other sources. But, OP, I would never ever recommend any book of Bittman's.

milesdividendmd

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2015, 12:28:03 AM »
I agree about Bittman's written recipes, poorly tested.

But VB6 is a great approach to eating!
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Trudie

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2015, 09:53:54 AM »
The Joy of Cooking will give you all the basics and you should  be able to easily find a used copy.

I own a shelf of cookbooks, including many mentioned here, but if I had to choose just one it would be this.  And I agree -- head to a used bookstore or find a decent used copy online.

Trudie

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2015, 09:55:33 AM »
I started a thread on this book as well, and highly recommend it for a newbie -- especially if you are interested in whole foods cooking:
http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/mustachian-book-club/the-kitchen-counter-cooking-school-by-kathleen-flinn-21173/

grantmeaname

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #15 on: July 29, 2015, 11:40:17 AM »
But VB6 is a great approach to eating!
What's that?

stlbrah

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #16 on: July 29, 2015, 12:50:50 PM »
I'm going to assume you already know the basics of cooking and are looking to expand your repertoire? I use blogs a lot, probably my favorite is Smitten Kitchen. I think I've made over a hundred of her recipes and I've had one flop. She has a book too. Serious Eats and Budget Bytes are good too. For Asian, particularly Chinese, Jaden Hair and Bee Yin Low's books are good. I like Dorrie Greenspan's baking book. I have an ancient Betty Crocker from the 70's I use a lot for baking recipes. Marcella Hazan is to Italian cooking what Julia Child is to French cooking and her Essentials of Italian Cooking is fab.

I am gaining more and more knowledge about Southeast Asian food since my gf is from there and this is kind of what made me want to pursue cooking as a hobby. Chinese food would be a good skill to have. Especially some beef, pork, or shrimp lo-mein.

I am interested in a lot of Italian and Mediterranean foods too. Pastas, aranchini, lamb kabob or gyros, etc. I love tzatziki sauce. I am already pretty good with most american foods and somewhat good at Mexican/TexMex foods - nothing amazing, but better than chipotle or qdoba. Basically, American and Mexican will be a lower priority since other areas are lacking more.

I don't care much about baking or desserts.


To everyone else, thanks a lot for the suggestions! I will have to review them all and check out the books/blogs.



grantmeaname

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #17 on: July 29, 2015, 01:04:23 PM »
Personally, I find Mark Bittman a sanctimonious little prig.
I like his book and his Time magazine articles, but I'm not familiar with him beyond that. What did he do that I should know about?

kite

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #18 on: August 07, 2015, 03:56:11 PM »
I started a thread on this book as well, and highly recommend it for a newbie -- especially if you are interested in whole foods cooking:
http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/mustachian-book-club/the-kitchen-counter-cooking-school-by-kathleen-flinn-21173/

Yes, yes, yes!

Between this and Tamar Adler's Everlasting Meal, your shelf needs no other book.  They are each complete works of art regarding what to do with what's there in front of you that you'll develop your own palate and skill set to follow a recipe or no recipe and still make something delicious.  I'd compare them to learning to play an instrument by ear so that you can pick up any tune. 

SunshineAZ

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #19 on: August 07, 2015, 04:14:34 PM »
The Joy of Cooking will give you all the basics and you should  be able to easily find a used copy.
This! 

Also www.allrecipes.com is a great site for finding new recipes.  It has a ingredient search, where you can put in a few ingredients and it will find recipes to use those items, great when you are trying to use up a particular ingredient.  It also lets you save recipes and add notes to them. 

zoltani

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #20 on: August 07, 2015, 04:52:12 PM »
My wife and I really like Clean Slate

http://www.amazon.com/Clean-Slate-Cookbook-Guide-Health/dp/0307954595

Easy, healthy and delicious recipes.
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Riff

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #21 on: August 07, 2015, 08:35:51 PM »
I have learned a ton about cooking by watching/reading Sam the Cooking Guy.  His stuff is simple, quick, and delicious.  Plus he's hilarious to watch :)

gatortator

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #22 on: August 08, 2015, 03:11:00 PM »
In addition to that I have a copy of the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

+1

if I only had room for one book,  this is the one I would keep. 

Good amount of pictures (including what not to do in the baking sections), clear instructions,  with recommendations for equipment and best brands for ingredients.

Bumbling Bee

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #23 on: August 08, 2015, 05:02:05 PM »
The Joy of Cooking will give you all the basics and you should  be able to easily find a used copy.

I own a shelf of cookbooks, including many mentioned here, but if I had to choose just one it would be this.  And I agree -- head to a used bookstore or find a decent used copy online.

Cosigned on this. As others have mentioned Alton Brown and America's Test Kitchen are both great. The recipes are really well-tested and both programs do a great job explaining the science behind cooking. Mark Bittman's philosophy and attitude towards cooking are great, but his recipes are sometimes sloppy. IMHO, Martha Stewart's recipes are often really inconsistent in results (which is ironic considering how fussy she is).

Websites I love that I don't think have been mentioned yet include Kenji López-Alt's Food Lab on Serious Eats (http://www.seriouseats.com/the-food-lab/) and Simply Recipes (http://www.simplyrecipes.com/) - I've never had a bad result with either. I also recommend using Pepperplate (https://www.pepperplate.com/) to manage recipes; it helps with menu planning and will generate shopping lists, which syncs with your phone if you get the app.
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milesdividendmd

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #24 on: August 08, 2015, 05:10:46 PM »
Plus one on the food lab from Kenji Lopez Alt. he actually started out writing for cooks illustrated.  And he has a cookbook coming out next month.
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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #25 on: August 08, 2015, 06:40:49 PM »
I also love allrecipes.com due to the variety of recipes.  I came home from farmers market today loaded with fruits and vegetables. Made a huge pot of Italian sausage soup loaded with fresh vegetables and a peach cobbler with fresh juicy Georgia peaches. Both were absolutely scrumptious and no crazy ingredients.
I have learned so much, like how to roast vegetables and make tortillas. I keep a notebook of my favorites and people rave about my cooking.  You can find vegan and vegetarian recipes too.


milesdividendmd

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #26 on: August 08, 2015, 07:34:41 PM »

Personally, I find Mark Bittman a sanctimonious little prig.
I like his book and his Time magazine articles, but I'm not familiar with him beyond that. What did he do that I should know about?

Didn't see this until now. He has an attitude of "I just don't understand why everyone doesn't cook meals from home, I mean, I do it, and it's easy." He fails to acknowledge most of us aren't PROFESSIONAL FOOD WRITERS and that knowledge of cooking in America has been on the decline for at least three generations. He also seems baffled by the idea that fast food might be popular because no-one has found a way to make broccoli taste like french fries.

I can't find it on the New York Times website but I remember an article he wrote about making a simple, delicious lunch in the middle of the day. He acknowledged that it took two hours but still seemed to think it was totally reasonable for your average person.

He just rubs me the wrong way. I find him annoying.

I can see your point. It's like the Alice Waters disease.

But his is a somewhat European sensibility. There is something to be said for a slow life with slow food and submaximal productivity.

It is actually a very mustachian sensibility on some level.
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Workingmomsaves

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #27 on: August 08, 2015, 08:12:45 PM »
I use my Betty Crocker cookbook a lot. I also like to Google search for recipes.  I then choose the one closest to the ingredients I have on hand.  We wanted to grill salmon the other night so I searched it out and we made grilled salmon with lime butter.  Yum!
See how our family cut our grocery bill to $250/month in Working Mom Saves: Grocery Guide. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B011N1UGYO

FIRE Artist

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #28 on: August 17, 2015, 06:37:45 AM »
Definitely the Joy of Cooking. 

My mother had an old worn out copy in the kitchen and each of her 6 kids were gifted with a shiny new copy upon getting first apartment.  It is referred to for everything from standard questions like how long to roast the turkey and how to filet a fish, to the wimsical, like how to make marshmallows, just because it sounds like a fun thing to do with the kids on Christmas vacation. 

seanc0x0

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #29 on: August 27, 2015, 11:04:31 AM »
Definitely the Joy of Cooking. 

My mother had an old worn out copy in the kitchen and each of her 6 kids were gifted with a shiny new copy upon getting first apartment.  It is referred to for everything from standard questions like how long to roast the turkey and how to filet a fish, to the wimsical, like how to make marshmallows, just because it sounds like a fun thing to do with the kids on Christmas vacation.

My wife inherited her grandmother's copy of The Joy of Cooking (not sure which edition, but likely from the 1960s). It has some rather interesting recipes, including how to cook Opossum and squirrel (including a handy diagram of how to skin one).  Comprehensive!

Kimchi Bleu

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #30 on: August 31, 2015, 03:42:50 PM »
Vegetables by James Peterson

Trade Secrets from a 3 Star Chef by Nancy J. Hooper

Morton's Steak Bible

Ina Garten has some great recipes as well.  I love to cook and bake so there are a ton of cookbooks that I have as keepers.  There are some that I only use a few recipes out of and then there are the ones I've read/tried and decided to take them to the Goodwill. 

KittyCat

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #31 on: August 31, 2015, 04:41:14 PM »
I love this! Posting to follow~

2ndTimer

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #32 on: September 04, 2015, 03:37:19 PM »
Another vote for anything from America's Test Kitchen.  I regard myself as a good cook but these folks can always teach me something.

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #33 on: September 08, 2015, 12:59:49 PM »
I can definitely recommend ratio by Michael Ruhlman if you want to make your own breads, pastas, pickles, sausage and the like. It gives ratios rather than strict recipes to follow, allowing for you to quickly expand your repertoire based on something simple. I checked it out from my library and bought my own after reading only a little bit of it, because it blew my mind how informative it was.

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #34 on: September 13, 2015, 01:55:23 PM »
"The New Best Recipe" by America's Test Kitchen is hands down my favorite cook book. I always have success with the recipes and I love the explanations prior to the main recipe of the techniques and modifications so that I understand the "why" better.

I recently read "An Everlasting Meal" and think it's an incredible narrative of preparing food. The premise being that we do not cook our meals in isolation, that each meal should flow into the next, hence the title. Adler refers to one of my favorite books by M.F.K Fisher as her inspiration. While "How to Cook a Wolf" does not actually include wolf recipes, it does have some inspiring passages on how to enjoy and even indulge even in the thriftiest of times: very mustachian.

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krimsonstaned

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #35 on: November 20, 2015, 10:48:29 AM »
I'm a big fan of books with pictures of everything. 

I really like "Paleo Comfort Foods" by Mayfield so much I stopped getting it from the library and just bought it.  It has food pron pics of EVERYTHING.  Try the bacon wrapped dates for Thanksgiving food.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2015, 10:52:42 AM by krimsonstaned »

FrugalKube

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #36 on: November 20, 2015, 08:06:14 PM »
I like I lot of these suggestions. I'll keep an eye on this thread
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jakubdudek

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #37 on: June 17, 2016, 06:29:10 AM »
Another great beginner's cook book is Harvest Eating by Keith Snow... check out his website as well.  It's all centered around fresh seasonal ingredients (the guy owns and lives on a farm) and the recipes are dead simple.  This book (and chef) is probably the main reason i cook so much today!

Trudie

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #38 on: June 20, 2016, 10:37:46 AM »
My new favorite is "The Ballymaloe Complete Cookery Course".  I bought a nice used copy for around 15 bucks.  The emphasis is on simple, fresh ingredients and it's comprehensive.  It's well-written and instructions are clear.  Despite the fact that Ballymaloe Cookery School is in Ireland, the recipes are broad and match different flavor profiles.  Also, it's not an esoteric or snobby cookbook.  I feel like the author really does want people to learn.

ahueston

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #39 on: June 23, 2016, 10:09:29 AM »
gimmiesomeoven.com

I have made a few of the receipts and they are all hits and i keep making them for friends and family.  The Carnitas, jambalaya, salsa, enchilada sauce and i am sure i am missing a few more are things are now all staples of our dinner menu.   

jakubdudek

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #40 on: December 13, 2016, 12:15:48 PM »
late to the party... but i am a huge fan of anything Jamie Oliver.  Specifically: 

Save with Jamie (cooking on the cheap),
Jamie's 30 minute meals (cooking fast)
Jamie at home (cooking with stuff that grows in the garden)

Jamie cooks simple yet delicious things, not cheffy, not pretentious and shows an amazing love for food and cooking.  He draws from influences from around the world. There's also tons of videos on youtube and dailymotion.  Everytime i watch him, i want to go cook something.

OurTown

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #41 on: December 28, 2016, 09:20:49 AM »
The Joy of Cooking will give you all the basics and you should  be able to easily find a used copy.

This.  I keep it on the shelf right next to The Joy of Sex.

jengod

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #42 on: January 04, 2017, 12:49:07 AM »
How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Pam Anderson is from an America's Test Kitchen chef/writer and is a good start.

Also, Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach; and Laurie David's Family Dinner books.
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gatorfox

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Re: Looking for a Good Cooking Book for a Newb
« Reply #43 on: January 13, 2017, 11:07:12 AM »
The Joy of Cooking......like many others.  I would also picking up an older edition as it had a cool section on all the basic techniques, equipment and what can sub for what.  Also really like the Improvisational Cook.  No budding chef is complete without a copy of Julia Child's, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.