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#1 of 21 Old 09-14-2009, 06:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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A friend is getting married, and says that the one thing she would really like is a good cookbook. She says she doesn't know how to cook, but wants to learn how. Both she and her fiance do eat meat.

Any suggestions? I'd love to get her something really comprehensive, but easy to follow. I first thought maybe Joy of Cooking, but thought the layout might be initimdating. I was also thinking maybe one of those anniversary edition Betty Crocker or Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks, but would really like suggestions.

Thanks!!
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#2 of 21 Old 09-14-2009, 06:45 PM
 
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I liked "How to Cook Without a Book" by Pam Andersen. (Anderson?)

Her books don't make ANY assumptions about your skills, and give you step by step instructions without being condescending at all. But what's cool about that book is that she takes about a dozen or so dishes and teaches you how to make them in ways that don't depend on very specific ingredients. For example, steam/sauteeing vegetables. She has a framework that includes pretty much any vegetable you want (she just seperates them a bit since they have different cooking times), an aromatic (garlic or onion or both), a fat (olive oil or butter or both), and spices (with suggestions for specific pairings that work nicely with various vegetables).

So it's about real dishes that you would make on a weeknight (stir fry is another dish) and not French cooking. I love Julia Childs but I think you'd need to be comfortable with the basics first. Her audience at the time knew how to cook basics, but a generation or two later not all of us learned more than boiling pasta.

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#3 of 21 Old 09-14-2009, 06:50 PM
 
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How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman is exactly what you are looking for. It is not intimidating and it's got pretty much any recipe you'd want to cook from chocolate pudding to the Thanksgiving turkey. It is my go-to book.
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#4 of 21 Old 09-14-2009, 10:23 PM
 
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I love the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. It has so many different types of recipes and there are many explanations and pictures about anything from cuts of meat to different veggies to grains and beans. It gives descriptions and pictures of how to cook most things. I use mine all the time. My friend passed this one along when she received the new edition as a gift.
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#5 of 21 Old 09-14-2009, 10:29 PM
 
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Six o clock scramble is great for those with little to know cooking skills. Its filled with quick meals using unprocessed (for the most part) and healthy ingredients. You can make a good dinner without spending a lot of time in the kitchen.
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#6 of 21 Old 09-14-2009, 10:51 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zinemama View Post
How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman is exactly what you are looking for. It is not intimidating and it's got pretty much any recipe you'd want to cook from chocolate pudding to the Thanksgiving turkey. It is my go-to book.
This is hands down one of the best all around cookbooks, Bittman rocks. His vegetarian version is great too. I love them both.

It shows you how to bake a chicken, make bread, make drinks, perfect rice pilaf and condiments. It's just a wonderful book in terms of a general cookbook, plus I like how he writes and it's a more rounded modern version of how to cook.

I also like that he goes into what items you need to have a decently stocked kitchen in terms of tools.

Me Wife to T (14 years)Mama to Princess(4) and Monster Boy(my 1 year old ):
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#7 of 21 Old 09-15-2009, 08:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you! These all sound great. I may have to put together a gift basket
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#8 of 21 Old 09-15-2009, 11:52 AM
 
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I'll third the recommendation for "How to Cook Everything". It's my most used cookbook.
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#9 of 21 Old 09-24-2009, 05:43 PM
 
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I have to recommend Americas test kitchen ....we have never had anything turn out bad .....and its simple
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#10 of 21 Old 09-24-2009, 05:49 PM
 
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I have the original Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, and while I LMAO at the illustrations of housewives in their skirts, heels, and pearl necklaces vacuuming, I do refer to it for basic cooking instructions. I believe the new one has the same information without all the misogyny, but it's definitely geared toward people who are on their own and cooking for the first time.

But now I'm going to look up the other book suggested!

A, jammin.gif mama to a boy (2005) and a girl (2009)
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#11 of 21 Old 09-24-2009, 05:50 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ceeveg View Post
A friend is getting married, and says that the one thing she would really like is a good cookbook. She says she doesn't know how to cook, but wants to learn how. Both she and her fiance do eat meat.

Any suggestions? I'd love to get her something really comprehensive, but easy to follow. I first thought maybe Joy of Cooking, but thought the layout might be initimdating. I was also thinking maybe one of those anniversary edition Betty Crocker or Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks, but would really like suggestions.

Thanks!!
You don't happen to be Canadian, are you? If you are, I would recommend the Company's Coming cookbooks.
Either way, I looove getting cookbooks for presents! I might just pick up the recommended ones from the library

waiting on the power of the three wolf moon. 
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#12 of 21 Old 09-25-2009, 12:45 PM
 
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Also if she doesn't know how to cook, could you show her the ropes so to speak?!? I know you're a veg, but the basic skills are the same kyim? Or you and another carnivore friend could do this together.

Buy her some cook books and put a book mark in the front of each book with a "gift certificate" for "learning to make: soup from scratch." "learning to make:_________" "learning to bake a pie." etc.

I was given this type of gift and it was so much fun to learn from friends!

I am not crunchy enough for this forum. Everyday I get a little crunchier though! :
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#13 of 21 Old 09-27-2009, 07:01 PM
 
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i knew NOTHING about cooking when i was first married. someone gave me "Master Recipes" by Steven Schmidt and thanks to that book before long i had become a gourmet, hosting dinner parties and baking bread.
12 years later I am known as an excellent cook and now i have about 5 feet of cookbooks on the kitchen shelf, but I still nearly always turn to Master Recipes first when I want to know how to cook something.
He covers everything and gives a "master Recipe" and then gives variations (like, a "basic" meatloaf, followed by 4 or 5 other ways to make it, etc). By everything, I mean baking, broiling, roasting, sauteeing, etc meats (and talks about cuts, etc, and offers suggestions for accompaniments), fish, vegetables, stocks, sauces, breads- both quick breads and yeast breads, kitchen equipment, etc.

Mama to 3 boys 

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#14 of 21 Old 09-29-2009, 10:50 AM
 
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Originally Posted by noobmom View Post
I'll third the recommendation for "How to Cook Everything". It's my most used cookbook.
Fourth it! I have given this book to most of my non-cooking friends and they all love it. It's one of my favorites.
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#15 of 21 Old 10-03-2009, 08:11 AM
 
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My mother, who is a super-serious cook (cut her teeth on Julia Child) uses "How to Cook Everything" all the time these days. I still use the Silver Palate's "The New Basics Cookbook" more. It has some more interesting/frou-frou recipes, and I like the way it's arranged, and use its cooking time charts for beans and grains all the time. It has other useful charts, too.
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#16 of 21 Old 10-03-2009, 09:59 AM
 
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I'l fourth or fifth or whatever the suggestion for "How to Cook Everything" by bittman! I have HTCE, HTCE: Vegetarian and "The Best Recipes in the World" - all by mark bittman and I use them all, ALL the time! They're great books and taught me SO. MUCH. about cooking its hard to describe. I don't actually cook out of them too much anymore (I have a lot of the recipes mostly memorized and so only need a glance at the ingredient lists most of the time, but they're great for references on how to cook X, Y or Z in a general way!!
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#17 of 21 Old 10-05-2009, 01:44 PM
 
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How about a recipie box filled with recipies from her friends kitchens. I got one for my wedding I love it! It has recipies the my grandmother made.

Doing what I can to make better choices every day!
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#18 of 21 Old 10-05-2009, 02:09 PM
 
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We have the betty crocker edition cookbook (red plaid one) that was given to us by our MIL to DH. It is awesome, I still use the book almost weekly. Although we are very good cooks it it still perfect for beginners. It has tried and true recipes WITH pictures so you know what its supposed to look like. It also gives nutritional infor on the recipe such as calories/sodium/fat content. It is in a binder style book with sections like desserts/breads /meat dishes/ and whatnot with an appendix at the back for quick reference. All the recipes have easily found items, I personally hate to get a *good* recipe to only find I need tons of exotic or hard to find items. It contains classics like mac and cheese, meatloaf and apple pie so they are some homestyle favorates as well as other recipes. Plus ours cam with a whole section on cooking tips like what type of oils to use for what, how to choose certain veggies/fruits and even how to slice/cut up things like chickens or meats even a how to cook a turkey section (i use it every thanksgiving!) Plus it gives a reference to differnt cuts of meats and what they are good for. I have given this cookbook as a wedding present before thats how much we like it because it is truly a good starting point and has a lot of reference items that even non beginners can use.
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#19 of 21 Old 10-05-2009, 03:35 PM
 
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I haven't heard of the Mark Bittman one, I am going to the used book store today and will see if I can find it too

I totally recommend the Betty Crocker one as well, it was my first cookbook, and there are so many recipes in there, most of which are great

You are a very thoughtful friend
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#20 of 21 Old 10-18-2009, 04:00 PM
 
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A friend bought me America's Test Kitchen and I love it; and I do not cook at all (well, not before I got this book!) so my skills were rudimentary at best.

Half-marathon running Mommy to 3 spunky girls and 1 sweet boy. Spending my days and nights where my kids need me most- at home with them!!

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#21 of 21 Old 10-26-2009, 11:59 PM
 
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The America's Test Kitchen books are written by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated Magazine. They have another series of books called "The Best" Recipes. The absolutely hands down best cookbook in my kitchen is their "New Best Recipes" cookbook. Like Bittman's book (I have and love his books, as well, however I go to the New Best REcipes twice as often), it has everything you can imagine or want to cook...but unlike Bittman--and this is what makes it a better book for people who have never cooked before--they write up a page before the recipe of what they tried to GET to that perfect version (and they are always perfect!) of whatever it is that you are cooking. They tell you about the science behind what it is you are trying to cook, and WHY some ingredients work better than others in this specific situation. You can take that information with you to a similar recipe that you try that is NOT from that book, and improve upon the recipe you are using. My husband couldn't cook worth a whit when we got married. I bought him "The New Best Recipes" along with Polly Clingerman's "The Kitchen Companion" (which tells you what it means to saute, how to store meat, and what a proper table setting looks like, among a million other things you wouldn't know if you didn't have a great cook teaching you the basics), and he is now one of the best cooks of the husbands of my group of friends (the one who is better than he is a professional chef...but I still like a lot of my hubby's stuff better!).

Absolutely positively this is the cookbook I give to people who are looking for a good resource, whether they are seasoned cooks or just starting out! It doesn't just say, "Saute the food in the pan," for instance...instead, the instructions will read, "Over medium high heat, saute until the edges of the vegetables are golden brown, approximately six to eight minutes". This helps a beginner to be more successful, and a more seasoned cook to better manage the cooking of the other food on the stove, if there is any there!

I know it's probably too late for the OP's friend, but really, this is a great book!

Mama to two awesome kids. Wife to a wonderful, attached, loving husband. I love my job-- I'm a Midwife, Doula and Childbirth Educator, Classes forming now!

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