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A few more cookbooks from my bookshelves 🙂


Hopi Cookery, by Juanita Tiger Kavena. ‘A compendium of more than 100 authentic recipes of the peace-loving Hopis’ says the book cover.  Recipes include Pinto Beans with Watermelon Seeds, Blue Corn Dumplings-and Piki-, the famous tissue-thin cornbread of the Hopiit.


Old New Orleans Cooking (I’m researching the identity of the author)- This modest 60 page volume from the first half of the 1900s contains ‘hundreds of secret recipes that helped this historic city to establish its fame.  I received a photo-copy of the fragile volume in 16 double-sided pages.  From Jambalaya and Crayfish Bisque, to 3 kinds of Pralines, you had better believe this is authentic, old-school N’awlins cooking.

Groundbreaking publications (19/20Centuries)

Miss Beecher’s Domestic Receipt-Book (1846), Catharine E. Beecher.  By an American writer, suffragist,  anti-slavery activist, proponent of Kindergarten education and a member of one of the most prominent families of the era.  An authoritative volume of early American cookery, with no index or illustrations.

Classic American

Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook (Revised, Enlarged Edition), by the Food Editors of the Farm Journal, ed. Nell B. Nichols.  When you think about old-fashion American country food, this is one of the sources you would be well-advised to seek.  It can often be found in a good used-bookstore for a pittance, and it will turn out a rich selection of history and know-how.

Comprehensive Cuisine

The Jewish-American Kitchen, Raymond Sokolov.  I have pored over this beautiful and interesting recipe book- and I have referred to it elsewhere on this blog- namely when I overcame my fear of making Chopped Liver.  It is almost a coffee table book, with big, beautiful photos, clear writing, and amusing style.


the vegetarian epicure, by anna thomas.  The title and author may appear in modest, lower-case letters, but this is a collection of 262 recipes that made itself known in CAPITAL LETTERS, since it appeared in the early 1970s.   It’s smart, sophisticated, down-home and international all at the same time.


World Sourdoughs from Antiquity, by Ed Wood.  This is  a history of cuisine and an actual cookbook.  Lots of amazing recipes, as well as a culinary reconstruction of  both ancient and early modern bread making techniques.

World Food

The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook, Gloria Bley Miller.  Craig Claiborne, a famed restaurant critic and gastronomic writer for the New York Times, said of this book, “A labor of Love…Should be treasured by anyone with a serious interest in the Chinese cuisine.”  He’s right.  True Bird’s Nest Soup?  Ten Precious Rice?  Braised Porkballs & Lilly Buds?  It’s all here.  I used to live in China for a half-year, and I did manage to learn some cooking techniques and recipes- but that was merely scratching the surface.


Wild Plant Family Cookbook, by Particia K. Armstrong.   This book seems to be 1/2 reference, 1/2 actual cookbook; and it is a staggering achievement.  It features and highlights wild foods from the Midwest of the United States- foods that have been consumed here by Native Peoples for thousands of years before colonization.


Biscuits & Slices; and a bonus volume:  The Big Book of Beautiful Biscuits, from the Australian Women’s Weekly Home Library.  These large sturdy paperback editions reflect an aspect of- and love for sweets that are unique to English sensibilities- these cookies and bars are appropriate for High Tea, after-school and midnight snacks.  Some metric measurements (see below).

Food Writers

Kitchen Confidential, Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, Anthony Bourdain.  This book became a literal and literary overnight sensation.  And anyone who has watched Chef Bourdain’s TV series (No Reservations) will see that this nearly world-weary, brilliant funny foodie is a formidable figure in world food consciousness. 


Metric Cooking for Beginners, Binevera Barta.  Liters, mL, grams, kilograms and Celsius in your recipes bumming you out?  I found this instruction guide-cum-recipe manual from the 1970s  for a dollar at a used bookstore.  I do have a combination kitchen weight scale that I use, and some of my measuring implements also show metric gradations.  If you use international recipe sources at all, some are strictly metric.  You can always get yourself a metric calculator too- that might actually be easier, but it can set you back US$40 (cf )

image courtesy of



Exactly one year ago the Dubious Citty Katt (that’s how the local press referred to her in print- honestly) twisted my arm to start this food blog.  I confidently said at that time that I’d share my favorite cookbooks.

For a year I’ve haven’t been sure how to do that, particularly since I learned as a child that we have to keep our  promises.  For one thing I have 3 or 4 bookshelves full of cookbooks.  Really big shelves.  (Please click on the photo if you don’t believe me).

Some books are large and colorful, some are sort of clinical;  but with most of them I would be happy to sink into a chair and just read it like a novel.  One of my favorite aunts proudly and happily admitted that very same thing to me one day in her kitchen (when I was in high school), where I was perpetually hanging out (and do not end sentences with prepositions please).  Everyone EVERYONE loved Aunt Jane’s cooking- and she taught me pie crust- along with my mom and grandmother.  Now, how will I describe my cookbook collection after all my big words.

About 130 a month guests come to this blog, which is amazing, Thank you for visiting.  And I finally figured out how to tell you about my cookbooks.  I describe this blog as a post-modern excursion into ‘food, Native foods, and omni-cuisine’ (or something like that). So I have created 12 completely arbitrary and capricious categories and I’ll list 2 examples of my favorite books in each one, also capricious and arbitrary.  I’ll try to do a cookbook gazette every once in a while until everyone tells me to stop (but please give me at least two chances.)  I hope you all get to look through some of them sometime.  There are more.


–Native Harvests, Barrie Kavach – a compact, clear volume that has a surprising degree of detail about pre-Contact food preparation practices

–Cuisine of the Water Gods, Patricia Quintana.  This is a beautifully produced book, not only rich in authentic cuisine and history, but a pleasure to read.


–The Early American Cookbook, Dr. Kristie Lynn & Robert W. Pelton.  A gift-shop cookbook that has a wealth of surprising information about early cooking techniques.

–The Williamsburg ART OF COOKERY or, AccompliB’d Gentlewoman’s COMPANION:  Being a Collection of upwards of Five Hundred of the most Ancient & Approv’d Recipes in Virginia COOKERY*

[* a ‘B’ here indicates an S-tset, or Double SS, so this is not a misspelling]

Groundbreaking publications (19/20Centuries)

–Mrs. Beeton’s COOKERY BOOK.  Look it up for yourself, it’s revelatory.

–Classic American Cooking, Pearl Byrd Foster.  This woman is one of the fountainheads of modern American cuisine awareness.

Classic American

–James Beard’s American Cookery.  A cookbook that I never tire of reading.  He’ll tell you how to make Hangtown Fry, a maple glazed doughnut, or Scrapple without batting an eye, with sheer pride of American food traditions.

–Masters of American Cookery, ed. Betty Fussell.  Here is a recent and reliable look at the emerging consciousness of food in the US.

Comprehensive  Cuisine

— Joy of Cooking (aka Joy), Irma Rombauer, Marian Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker.  There are many editions and iterations of this classic.  I have a double set of paperbacks, as well as a battered 1-volume version.  They all look like they have weathered a category 3 hurricane.

–Mastering, etc, Julia Child, Volumes I & II.  Ditto, category 4 hurricane.


–Laurel’s Kitchen, Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders, Bronwen Godfrey.  A brilliant, beloved, admired classic.

–The Farm Vegetarian Cookbook (Revised), ed. Louise Hagler.  A little-known, brilliant, beloved, admired classic.


–Beard on Bread, James Beard.  This is Beard at some of his best.  No wonder they named a national award after him.

–The Art of Baking, Paula Peck.  This volume deserves to be much more widely known and used by everyone.  This is where I learned how to make Genoise and Viennese specialties.

World Food

–Delightful Thai Cooking, Eng Tie Ang.  A very helpful and correct introduction to a favorite ethnic cuisine in the US and world food scene.

–Flavors of India, Madhur Jaffrey.  This is another one of my severely battered cookbooks.  It was a Christmas present from my parents many years ago, and I’m surprised the binding is still holding together.  This author has produced more fine books than I can count.


–Chilies to Chocolate:  Food the Americas Gave the World, Nelson Foster, Linda Cordell.  A brilliant analysis, critique and meditation on the role of Indigenous foods in world history.

–On Food and Cooking:  The Science & Lore of the Kitchen, Harold McGee.  One of the undisputed bibles of modern Gastronomy- the marriage of aesthetics, cuisine and science.


–The Art of Viennese Pastry, Marcia Colman Morton.  This slim volume, written by the wife of a diplomat, harks back to the twilight of the Habsburgs, and a world before the onset of Post-modernity.

Gourmet’s Best Desserts, the ed.s of Gourmet

Food Writers

—Memories of My Life, Auguste Escoffier.  Brilliant European food history.

–As They Were, MFK Fisher.  Brilliant American food history.


–The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book, Alice B. Toklas.  Don’t make the brownies.

–The Little House Cookbook, Barbara M. Walker.  A comprehensive walk through the food world of Laura Ingalls Wilder, well worth reading.

A beautiful painting from Mexico

A beautiful painting from Mexico

I made two of the wooden kitchen shelves from reclaimed wood many years ago – they are pretty heavy, considering that they don’t look particularly heavy.

The original watermelon painting I found in Mexico last year (08)- I asked the artist to sign and date the back of it for me- I think it is a TRULY fabulous painting.  It looks like something right out of the 20s- Juan Gris, or some of those cubist types.

I always used to buy seeds from the co-op, so of course it was in little plastic bulk-sales bags, and I’d get them mixed up.  The caraway and the cumin; the anise and the fennel.  None of them had anything indicating what they were- usually just a PLU number- mostly because I thought I could positively identify one from the other (some of them look like each other).  So now I know exactly what everything is, although I had to kind of evolve from ape to man on that one.  The Herbes de Provence I use, and the Spanish smoked paprika is pretty amazing.  You should find some and experiment…..very carefully, but experiment.

Black tea, jasmine extract, Oblaten (for making certain cookies), tomato paste in a tube.  Very important to have at all times

Three shelves of completely tattered and worn out cookbooks.  Some of them do not survive, but I usually find another copy to replace them when I’m lucky.  I write dates and pencil in changes to recipes – I’ve done that for a decade or two I think.  I’m going to put a list together of some of my favorite cookbooks.  I have a lot of standard titles for various categories- i.e. a lot of people would instantly recognize the cookbook or author.  Then there are titles that food freaks know about- Mrs. Beaton, The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, books MFK Fisher, Colonial Williamsburg Cookery (a facsimile edition from the 1600s I think), The Boston Cooking School Cookbook, Old Salem Cookery.

I have at least a dozen cookbooks by/for/about Indigenous Foods, and a number of textbooks about them.  The Hopi Cookbook, Aztec Cooking (it’s the only Aztec cookbook I’ve ever seen), A Cherokee cookbook, Northwest Tribal Recipes.  A lot of the cooking information is authentic- and then you also have adapted western ingredients in some as well (wheat flour, leavening, dairy products, etc).  Some of the traditional foods prepared with newer ingredients can be fine- but you also want to know what the real thing is like.  Our tribal communities everywhere were incredibly healthy only a few generations ago because our diets were  rich with wild, good foods, and quite a lot of cultivated ones as well.

I keep a NO WAR pin on my spice rack so I can see it every day all the time.  Behind it in this photo is a poster about traditional Cherokee Foods, in Cherokee language, using the Cherokee Syllabary (sp).  Quite cool.

I’ve made a few pieces in my kitchen workspace that I always keep in use or close by.  I’ve never had a microwave in my life (I got a really shocked look from one of my friends  recently when he was looking around my kitchen to find the food zapper- I’ll be 50 next year), but I do like kitchen tools- from corn shellers to china caps, and Turk’s Caps to big slabs of marble.  I do use a food processor and a big fancy mixing machine that could possibly winch a Cooper Car out of distress if it was hooked up properly.

I have no idea how to align the photographs at this point with the things I’m writing, so this would make a very good rainy day project.