I grew up with this book. My mother received a copy of it for her wedding shower, and I taught myself to cook by flipping through this book’s pages. My mother’s copy is tattered, stained, and torn, but precious. In the years since I’ve been away from home there have many times when I’ve wished for this book either because of the beloved recipes, or because of the many, many handy charts it contained. Substitutions, measurements, cooking times, safe internal temperatures, how many pounds of fruit equal how many cups of cut fruit, canning instructions for different foods… It’s all there. Along with certain recipes that I used to make as a teenager and haven’t made since.
And I got the version like my mother’s that’s in a ring binder so I can add new pages (like the no-knead bread recipe that Jen posted) as I like. But I’m so glad that I didn’t actually get my mother’s version, as the version I got has updated recipes, nutrition information, a section on 20 minute meals, easy identification of vegetarian meals (and a bigger selection of meatless entrees) and instructions on how to make the recipes in a slow cooker (for recipes that can be made in a slow cooker). It also has a conversion table to adjust the bread recipes to a bread machine.
Last night I flipped through the book and drooled. So many possibilities… so many wonderful meals. I’m excited to cook. I want to plan a fancy dinner party. I want to start making breakfast on weekends.
Also in food news, I’m going through a strong meat aversion phase again. This has caused some problems with convenience and I’m not getting the protein I need. We were buying quorn tenders and other fake meat products, but they’re so expensive. And I’ve let tofu go bad in the fridge before because I couldn’t eat an entire block. So, Sunday night I took a block of extra firm tofu and cubed it. Then I spread the cubes out on a cookie sheet and put the cookie sheet in the freezer. The next morning I flexed the cookie sheet and the frozen cubes popped off and I put them all in a bag. Last night Kristin made stewed chicken and rice, and I reached into the freezer, took out a number of tofu cubes and popped them in the microwave for 90 seconds and plopped them in my bowl of seasoned rice. No extra effort to get me protein! No need for me to prepare a separate meal! Kristin kept the chunks of chicken big enough for me to scoop rice from around them and I just added my tofu. I think this is a system that’s going to work well.
So. I think this question has gone around the net already, but I’m going to ask it again… what, in your opinion, is the must-have cookbook for your home? Why? Also, have you come up with any clever solutions to kitchen/food problems that you’d like to crow about?