“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
I’m going to share a big secret with you today. BIG. I’m going to tell ya’ll about my absolute must-have, cannot-live-without, always-in-my-kitchen cookbook. If I could only have one single cookbook in my kitchen, it would be this baby. It has never steered me wrong.
Drum roll please….
Here it is: How to Cook Everything
At first, this book didn’t seem too special to me. It has no glossy pages or mouthwatering photos. It is kind of plain-looking. It seemed a teensy bit reminiscent of an encyclopedia. And the illustrations that were in the book were simple line drawings.
But then, something interesting happened. I noticed that day after day, meal after meal, I would unfailingly pull out my big red book to consult for expert advice. Not sure how to cook an artichoke? Just look it up. How to carve a turkey? Yup, it’s there. Cranberry sauce to go with the turkey? It’s there too- with delicious variations.
The book taught me how to shop for ingredients (do you know when a pineapple is ripe?), how to store ingredients, and gives a rundown on how to easily cook them. And that’s all before you get to the fantastic, no-fail recipes. And there are many, many recipes in this book. With variations.
It is authored by Mark Bittman, who is a food journalist and columnist for The New York Times. I now affectionately refer to him as “Uncle Mark.” (If you know him- please don’t tell him. Because that would be truly mortifying.) Anyways, the reason I’ve bestowed such an affectionate title on him is that through his wonderful cookbook he becomes like a dear uncle who guides you in all your kitchen conquests. His way of writing is so conversational and straightforward and sort of endearing, that you cannot help but be thoroughly convinced that you too can truss a chicken effortlessly. He tells you exactly what you need to know.
I’m so in love with this book that it is my default wedding present. If you’re getting married and I know you, chances are you’ll be getting one of these in the mail. (Sorry to spoil the surprise.)
As you know, my diet does not include things like wheat or sugar. And there are recipes in How to Cook Everything (affiliate link) that have wheat, sugar, and other stuff in them. This book was not written with a strict concept of clean eating in mind. So there are definitely recipes I skip over. But I still choose this as my #1 cookbook pick because it taught me how to cook. It taught me the science behind cooking and inspired confidence in me to stray away from the original recipe. And the fruit, vegetables and meat sections are truly unparalleled.
5 Reasons I highly recommend How to Cook Everything (affiliate link):
1. Mark Bittman. I just love the way he writes.
2. Detailed how-to instructions on just about everything you can imagine.
3. Variations on practically every recipe so you can customize it to your taste.
4. Frequent suggestions for side dishes, etc. to pair with the meal.
5. It really teaches you how to cook. So it gives you confidence.
5 Best Recipes: (It’s really hard to choose- there are dozens I’ve tried and loved.)
1. Preserved lemons
2. Chili powder
3. Collards or kale with tahini
5. Winter squash curry