My Standard Cookbook Rant

Why bother with buying cookbooks when the internet has 1,000s of free ones?

A recipe from a chef that you have followed in the past and liked is more likely to come out tasty than the recipe from I.M. Freaky internet. For example, in the case of Molly Katzen I know to cut the salt by at least one half and double down on the spicy bits. Then they all work for me, you get what you pay for.

How do you know if a cookbook is any good?

Get thee to a library, even the crappiest library will have a decent selection of cookbooks to check out and try.

What cookbooks should I avoid?

  • All celebrity cookbooks, unless they are a chef first and incidentally a celebrity.
  • All diet cookbooks, they are either written by quacks or dieticians who don't know squat about tasty food. There are a few exceptions, but not many.
  • The old school 10,000 recipes books, they aren't really tested and you can find that for free. So why pay for them?

What cookbooks do you like?

I prefer single theme cookbooks, either a specific ethnicity or style such as vegetarian. Since I usually only cook for myself, I also look for books that have recipes that can be reduced or make good leftovers. I also don't eat much if any meat at home so I skip the meat and potatoes and barbeque books.

What makes a good cook book?

  • Tasty, interesting and consistent recipes, if fun stories are thrown in, that's a bonus.
  • Pretty and useful photos and illustrations.
  • Decent nutritional information, though in some case you're happier not knowing.
  • Approximate preparation and cooking times are nice to know.
  • Use modern measurements like weight, etc. Digital scales are dirt cheap! Dump those stupid cups and spoons, especially for baking.
  • Good coverage of procedures and techniques.
  • If there is a special cooking technique, don't assume we know it! As in dumb comments like any (Indian) child can make that, I don't want to get involved with human trafficking to learn how to cook.

What are some good basic books?


Cooking Light Mad Delicious: The Science of Making Healthy Food Taste Amazing

Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck