On The Simple Dollar, I’ve often written about my love for cookbooks. My friends and family know about this and often give me cookbooks as gifts for the holidays, which means I’ve actually reached a point where my cookbooks fill up a small bookshelf and I have to be selective about what I keep and what I pass along to others.
I enjoy several kinds of cookbooks for various reasons. I like ones that have a lot of basic recipes I can trust and modify. I like ones that are reference works for ingredients and equipment, like lists of spices that go well together. I also really like ones that focus on technique. And I like ones that are focused on “framework recipes,” where you can kind of fill in the blanks with what you have on hand. The only ones I generally don’t like are ones that are just collections of complicated recipes without any sort of theme or pattern; I can do without them. A cookbook should either answer a question very quickly, show me how to do something or inspire me to try something new that builds upon what I already know — and ideally do more than one of those things.