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If someone were to ask me how I learned to cook, my first instinct is to say that I grew up watching my mom in the kitchen. She comes from a line of homestyle kitchen ninjas.
My second instinct is to say that I learned so much just from reading cookbooks. You see, I have always been an avid reader. My little one recently asked what toys I liked to play with when I was her age. And I honestly couldn’t think of any. For me, it has always been all about the books.
I can remember being about ten years old, and looking for something new to read. I was bored with what I had, and there was no imminent library trip. My mom, however, had an ample supply of cookbooks on the shelf. So I grabbed one, and started reading that. That single move sparked an interest in cooking and recipes, and the rest, as they say, is history.
What I Learned
The interesting thing about reading a cookbook – which I know, sounds really weird – is that over time, you begin to get a sense of the structure of a recipe. What spices and other ingredients pair well together. And after reading enough recipes in a broad variety of cookbooks, you get a great feel of what would work as substitutions to use the ingredients you have on hand and avoid the need for a store run.
This, my friends, is how I became a Pantry Fairy. And the best part is that you can do it too!
Today, I want to share with you some of my favorite cookbooks, my standard go-to’s when I can’t think of anything to make, or when I have random ingredients on hand and need some inspiration on what to do with them. Each is unique in it’s own right, and provides recipes, from the simple to more complex, to get your own Pantry Fairy brain churning with ideas.
My Top 5 Cookbooks
In no particular order:
My absolute favorite series! The Gooseberry Patch cookbooks are an extensive collection of books filled with recipes from ordinary people just like you from all over the United States. What I love about them are their whimsical nature and great variety of recipes. Most also feature fun crafting or homemade gift ideas that you can make, and cooking tips as well. These make great gifts.
Fix it and Forget It is my gold standard when it comes to getting crockpot meals put together quickly in the morning. You can dump meat and veggies straight in from the freezer, and when you get home, dinner is done and your home smells amazing!
Hershey’s Best Loved Recipes: Two of my most popular desserts I’ve baked and shared within my circle came out of this book. It contains everything from your basic chocolate chip cookie to more the complicated and decadent, such as a rich chocolate raspberry mousse.
The Joy of Cooking is an extensive encyclopedia of recipes and cooking techniques, which to me is fun to read just for learning purposes. The level of detail included is well worth it if you are looking to take your culinary skills to the next level. It also includes sample menu ideas for holidays, and other events.
The Betty Crocker Cookbook. When you think of someone who cooks well, inevitably the name Betty Crocker comes to mind. This cookbook breaks down the cooking process into easy, manageable steps. It also provides amazing recipes using basic ingredients. We love the 30 minutes or less section, very handy when you’re short on time but still need to feed yourself and your family!
I hope you enjoy these resources! What are your favorite go-to cookbooks and recipe collections? I’m always looking for something new to try, and for new resources to add to my collection. Drop a note with your thoughts!
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