Thursday, May 20, 2010


btt button

This week's Booking Through Thursday question asks: "What’s the most useful book you’ve ever read? And, why?"

Remember the old, silly game of adding "in bed" to any fortune cookie fortune? It made the fortune more meaningful. Har. Har.

When I read book questions like this, I have a similar, if more sacred rule: Add "other than the Bible" to any question that asks what is your superlative book in any category. Otherwise, the answers would be repetitive.

Even with that qualifier, my answer is still easy -- The Joy of Cooking. There is no more useful book in my house. There is no other book I turn to several times a week to teach me or remind me how to do something. It was the first cookbook I ever owned and, even though I have a newer edition now, it is still really the only cookbook I really need.

I may tweak the recipes or only use them for the basic structure, but every recipe is in there, from apple pie to pâté de foie gras. And there are many useful illustrations.  Even my 1995 edition includes everyone's favorite, How to Skin a Squirrel:


  1. I agree completely! I learned so much just by sitting down and reading straight through!

  2. Cookbooks are useful!

  3. AK -- Did you really read Joy straight through? I've done that with other cookbooks, but not this one. I don't know if my brain has the capacity!

    Frog -- This one in particular!

  4. I actually only made it about halfway before I got distracted. For a long time I just kept it in the living room and read while we were watching TV at night. I've started the same thing with Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Both have such useful (and not so useful!) tips!

  5. Thanks for stopping by my blog. That picture is a little disturbing. But I agree about reading cookbooks straight through. I learned so much and plus the enjoyment of cooking is worth it.

  6. I got that for a wedding gift (31 years ago!) and used it a lot at first but rarely pick it up these days.

  7. lol I think a lot of people have this cookbook. It is on my shelves along with a lot of others.

    Glad you stopped by my site for me to find your blog. Have become a follower.
    CMash from CMashLovesToRead

  8. AK - I may have to read all the way through Joy. Who knows what I'll learn!

    toryaslim822 -- Yes, that picture is disturbing! I came across it the other day while looking up how long to cook a whole salmon. Yikes!

    Bermuda -- It has remained my Go To book in the kitchen. I am not good at following recipes, so the short, to the point recipes give me a starting point for just about anything I want to make.

    Mash -- I'm glad you found RCR! And thanks for following!

  9. Joy of Cooking is the traditional rite of passage gift in my family for when you get your first apartment along with Escoffier - both are useful and entertaining and must have for anyone who wants to feed themselves well.

  10. I got it as a graduation gift. The Tuna Noodle Casserole recipe is just perfect! I made it just a few weeks ago.

  11. Ah, so THAT'S how you skin a squirrel.

  12. Caitlin -- I've given Joy of Cooking for many a graduation or housewarming present. Escoffier would be a toney alternative -- I'll have to remember that one.

    Carin -- TNC sounds very good to me on this blustery Portland day. I just used it to make a cherry pie.

    Charley -- You never know when that squirrel lesson will come in handy. Make sure you wear gloves and boots. :)

  13. My "go to" cook book is Fannie Farmer, but I know that I couldn't read it through. I can't even watch the food network without getting hungry!

  14. Great response--I have a Joy of Cooking, but honestly, I don't use it all the much though it is an excellent "go-to" book that will describe how to deal with any food product.

    For me the most useful book was The Managerial Woman. I bought it when I got my first corporate job in 1981, and I read it and reread it and reread for years while I was getting my bearings in that strange non-English major world I found myself in.

  15. I'm going to say that my number one useful book is The Tightwad Gazette and a close second is the 1978 edition of the Betty Crocker cookbook.

  16. I use this one as a reference rather than a cookbook. It's possible I haven't made a single recipe from it actually. I just always use it to check times, temperatures and prep methods for just about every type of food.

  17. "The Joy of Cooking... in bed!"

    "How to Skin a Squirrel... in bed!"

    smirk, snort, guffaw

  18. Gwen -- I know what you mean. I start reading a cookbook, then I just want to eat!

    Jane -- I'll have to go look for The Managerial Woman. Maybe that is what's been missing from my career. :)

    Bybee -- You caught my attention with The Tightwad Gazette. I'm getting good ideas here.

    Kristen -- TJC is terrific for that kind of thing. Like what size round cake pan to use if you don't have a square cake pan, or what to use as a substitute ingredient. I love it for stuff like that.

    Michael -- You just made me bark with laughter! Are we in the same junior high school class?

  19. Good choice (although I would be skipping that particular recipe).

    BTW, the "in bed" thing also works with hymn titles. Nearer My God to Thee. How Great Thou Art. It's an ancient church camp joke.


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