How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart by Pam Anderson
I can't remember how I came across this one, but it went right on my wishlist! My wonderful sister-in-law got it for me.
The book teaches you a bunch of different dishes and methods to make meals from what you've got on hand. It's designed to help you memorize the methods, and I haven't quite gotten to that point, but I remember enough that I can wing most of it for several of the dishes I've made most.
How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
This cookbook showed up in an apartment in college. None of my roommates said it was theirs, and I was the last to move out, so it became mine.
Although sometimes I could take or leave the author's attitude (I'm sorry, you shouldn't make pecan pie with corn syrup because corn syrup by itself isn't delectable?? Do we sit around eating flour or butter or sugar plain??), this book has a ton of reference material. It's especially useful if you're doing a produce co-op and end up with a mystery vegetable or two. It also explains dozens of techniques with useful illustrations. I don't often plan menus from here, but when I need to look something up (in a book), this is my top choice.
Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book
This one is a family tradition. Growing up, we saw Mom make many a recipe from her ring-bound BHG cookbook. As my generation of Wayward Girls grew up and got married, we received our own copies.
Not only is the binding the best adapted to the kitchen of any of the books listed here, but the recipes have every standby you could want. This is one of my top go-tos for regular menu planning. It also has lots of great techniques, tips and tricks in the sidebars.
EatingWell 500-Calorie Dinners Cookbook by Jessie Price, Nicci Micco & the Eating Well editors
The most awesome thing about this cookbook actually isn't that it's full of tasty, filling, low-calorie meals. It's that each meal isn't just an entree. In the sidebar, each entree is paired with options for side dishes or even desserts, making a complete meal—still under 500 calories! I love this thing!
I use these standbys so much that I always have to keep room in my cabinet for something new. Here are the latest cookbooks I've got my eye on.
Another useful tip: get a cookbook stand! I use the acrylic one because it helps to keep my pages clean, but there are so many options out there, you're sure to find one for you!
What cookbooks do you use over and over again??
Photo of cookbooks by Tom Taker