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The city library is a bi-weekly visit for us. It helps that it's literally down the street. Although as it becomes more frigid, the weeks between visits increase and I use the drive through drop off and underground parking more and more often. I borrow cookbooks all the time, using them to see if they are worth spending the money on. But I have a bad habit of taking the book to the main desk, after I've exceeded my renewal limits, to first check if there are any requests from others, then if not, to borrow it for another 3 - 6 weeks. If you are thinking of buying a cookbook, but want to take it for a test spin, look for it at your local library. Chances are they'll have it, and you might find that you actually hate the cookbook, or maybe you'll love it so much that you'll renew it so often and pay so many late fees on it that you'd have been better off buying it in the first place. Not that I am talking from experience...

These are only a handful of the cookbooks (one food related book) I have renewed more than once, spent weeks on a waiting list for, and admittedly even paid fines for. I hate paying library fines. I read these books like novels. They're worth the publisher's price. I would be surprised if you owned any of these and haven't given them a pet name. or two.

In no particular order:

Mollie Katzen  the new moosewood cookbook
Every recipe is a winner, and I especially love Mollie's emphasis on the cook following their intuition. She gives great base recipes and her suggestions for alterations really help you make the recipe exactly how you want it. They are mostly vegetarian recipes, actually I think they all are. And her sweets are {mwah!} One of my favorite cookbook authors.

 chez panisse: vegetables
goes through just about every vegetables in alphabetical order talking about when they are in season, how to harvest or pick the best of the best, and a handful of recipe highlighting each vegetable. An indispensable guide to anything grown from the earth up. 

chez panisse: fruit
Fruit version of the previous cookbook. The illustrations are lovely (in both) and I especially love the notes about how they serve various dishes and vegetables at the restaurant. The recipes are simple, clear and delicious.

 Alice Water the art of simple food
A bible of the  most basic recipes. It is concise, and clear, although you may need to have some cooking knowledge beforehand, or at least google nearby if there is a technique you don't know. Clean, pure food recipes. A basis for intuitive cooking. I especially love the secion where she talks about the pantry.

 Jim Lahey my bread
Bread made with the simplest and purest ingredients. (seeing a trend here?) Most of the recipes in here are made with the same ingredients: flour, dough, salt and water. Read the instructions carefully, follow them well, and after your first (maybe second) time making Jim's bread, you'll have it down and may start branching out trying your own versions of his yummy recipes.
I love his bread.

 Donna Hay off the shelf
Beautiful cookbook and very applicable for pantry eating. I love her real life approach to whole foods. A number of the recipes we tried from this cookbook have become our regulars. Some of the ingredients she talks about aren't found in the states (she's a new zealand icon) but there are good enough substitutes that everything works out deliciously.

David Tanis a platter of figs and other recipes
This book is gourmet, the recipes, photography and dialogue. A couple of the recipes were a little too fancy for me, and a number we didn't try because the ingredients aren't easily obtained in Utah or too expensive; but I loved thumbing through this book and when he shared his favorite pie dough which he affectionately referred to as "mormon pie crust".

Martha Stewart cookies
I love that this cookie cookbook is organized into types of cookies: bar, drop, rolled, etc etc. Some I wouldn't trade for our own traditional family recipes, and others I had never even heard about before. I was on a waiting list for this particular book for many weeks at two different libraries, for good reason.
so many cookies, so little time.

Michael Pollan the omnivore's dilemma
This book will change your perspective about where food comes from, and the relationship we have/make with it. I found similarities with Food, Inc. but I loved the second and third sections where he talked about big business "organic" and his adventure foraging for his own meal. insightful and honest.

where's your hangout at the library?


  1. The cookbook section, of course! I love cookbooks for their recipes and for their beauty. I've been very pleased with the Provo library's cookbook selection in the past. After checking out Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc cookbook and seeing how much time my husband spent poring over its pages, I decided it would make a great Christmas gift for him. I'm all about trying before you buy. I also love the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks and I am so dying to take Sarabeth's Bakery for a test drive.

  2. I love moosewood! It was one of the first cookbooks I ever got! I lover their not lenient style of cooking