5 Cookbooks To Read


Little did I know, last fall when I read Shauna Niequiest’s Bread and Wine , that soon I would employ one of her coping mechanisms for dealing with grief—reading cookbooks. Without a plot there isn’t story grip, but that works well when it is hard to focus. Shauna’s book is simply a memoir with a few recipes. Besides introducing me to Nigella, I found her thoughts on hospitality and on feasting/fasting helpful.

  Nigella Kitchen is the first full-length cookbook that I read like a novel. Ah, Nigella! This was the best choice for me.  She writes with sparkly and surprising words, tosses in literary allusions, and takes unalloyed pleasure in alliteration. (I was at the stove, pontificating and pottering, occasionally pushing and prodding what was in front of me with a pair of tongs…) Her words are cozy and comforting: those of us who warm our souls by the stove and the solace of stirring. The pictures are sumptuous. This is all the joy of butter pecan ice cream without the calories.

A friend gave me Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef , a gluten-light person (except when I’m not). Two things drew me to Shauna Ahern: her response to a celiac diagnosis—saying ‘yes’ to everything she could eat instead of mourning what she couldn’t— and her deep/high/broad respect for her chef husband. There’s almost too much dancing and kissing and gazing and shopping-is-foreplaying, but I’d rather that than the condescending tone Molly Wizenberg had towards her husband in Delancey.  My cookbook shelf was crowded and I had expected to ‘read and release’ this. The recipes are highbrow, more Julia Child than Pioneer Woman. But I have to make a few, so I’m keeping this one. I love the way Danny and Shauna formatted the recipes.

When How to Cook Without a Book appeared on a bride’s wish list, I did the tightwad cha-cha-cha and read it entirely (after washing my hands) before I gave it to her. Then I repented and bought a copy for myself. Pam Anderson is earnest and straightforward. But this is a book to be read more for education than entertainment. Many good tips, including using won ton wrappers for ravioli.

There is a kind of woman who makes all sorts of people consider her their best friend. That’s Ree Drummond! The Pioneer Woman Cooks welcomes you to her ranch and kitchen and walks you through recipes step-by-step. Rich in photography, in conversational writing, and in wacky humor, this might be the best place to start if you want to read cookbooks like novels, too!

After I’ve consumed these cookbooks, I’ll write another post: 5 More Cookbooks to Read



9 thoughts on “5 Cookbooks To Read

  1. funny….i.e … your last sentence….i’m a cookbook reader…can’t help it….and then i have to try every recipe in the book as well….and my husband bites the bullet … every time….

    • Funny, Sonja! I haven’t tried too many recipes out of the cookbooks, but I have some marked to try.

      Do you have rhubarb in SA? I have a large supply of rhubarb and I’ve been trying all kinds of rhubarb recipes. Most, sadly, have been ones I wouldn’t try again.

      • we do have have rhubarb….but i haven’t tried it yet! maybe it’s the poisonous leaves that puts me off or the amounts of sugar i’ve seen in some recipes … i’ll look for a recipe with a twist in one of my books…and let you know….

  2. rhubarb…..i’ll go for Nigel Slater and Diana Henry. Nigel Slater – just google and see which recipes call out to you… there are many.

    I link Diana Henry’s Rhubarb jam….something I’d give a try….pretty to look at, to give as a gift, and to eat!
    (at least it’s supposed to be sweet…it’s a jam;-) … she also has quite a few other rhubarb recipes available on the http://www….

    Both Nigel Slater & Diana Henry uses a similar bake in the oven method …
    scroll down for method…

    …then there;s also Nigella you can give a try….her book How to Eat has many rhubarb recipes….

    hope this helps…and keep me posted;-)
    maybe it triggers your cooking imagination ….and you come up with something totally different…

    (eish….now I’ll have to try this too….can’t give you advice if i haven’t done it myself….)

  3. Maybe if I read cookbooks like novels I’d be a better cook. I hardly ever follow recipes but my older girls have bought me a couple of Donna Hay books, which are lovely to brows through.

  4. Pingback: 10 Things about June | A Living Pencil

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