Cookbooks

Being a blogger is a tricky business. It’s easy to get caught up in statistics (especially if you have Google Analytics) – and you can check as much as you want to see how many people have logged on to your site, and where they come from. I’ve had at least one hit from every continent except Antarctica (so, if anyone knows of any scientist freezing on the South Pole, let them know this is a place they can warm up!).

Nevertheless, the statistics are much less important than the content (as some of my favorite bloggers will tell you). Unfortunately, I think that while I know that I had only six people log onto my site yesterday, it is all because of me and my lack of posting. This being the first post of the second half of my century of posts (otherwise known as my 51st post!) I’ve decided to do my best to reform to an acceptable amount of posting.

You may think: why am I telling you all this? You’re probably not interested, and a “professional” blogger may choose not to talk about any of the stuff that goes on in the background of a blog. Nevertheless, for me this is part of the journey. Whereas previously I wasn’t sure what to cook, and I haven’t been cooking much lately (*gasp!*), I’ve decided to take on my modest collection of cookbooks (see above).

Let’s start from the bottom:

Culinaria: Deutsche Spezialitäten (in German) [Note: this book is also available in English translation! ~KM 2/15/07] is the newest member of my library. It is part of a series of Culinaria cookbooks (there’s one on European specialties, one on Italian, you get the idea). Edited by Christine Metzger and published by Könemann, this book is a beautiful encyclopedic cookbook of German food. It’s organized by state, and each state gives its own rendition of food (with a strong focus on meats, maybe due to the editor’s last name which means “butcher”?). There are double-page spreads on the various types of German potatoes (they show 24), apples, coffee, tea, chapters on cabbage, German cakes, bread, and so much more. While sometimes it leaves me wanting a detailed recipe for things like how to make your own sauerkraut or Obsttorte, it does offer many, many recipes with beautiful color pictures. Definitely not a book to teach technique, but a book to read with a cup of tea or to cook with sipping a glass of wine (preferably a German Riesling).

I’ve already mentioned Harumi’s Japanese Home Cooking (in English) by Harumi Kurihara. I haven’t tried a recipe since then, but this again is a cookbook I look forward to becoming friends with. Harumi’s charming style and thorough descriptions leave me scheming many different dinner menus. The photography in this book is exquisite.

Schwaben (in German) by Claudia Daiber, is a collection of recipes from south-west Germany. A very good cookbook, thorough yet simple in its descriptions. I have cooked several recipes out of here and hope to work my way through the entire book. It doesn’t overwhelm with many different traditional dishes, but chooses the “most famous” and showcases them.

Christiane Nusslein-Vollhard decided that winning a Nobel Prize for her work on evolutionary biology at the Max Plank Institute in Tübingen just wasn’t enough. So she sat down and wrote a cookbook of her favorite recipes: Mein Kochbuch (in German). Her book’s thesis: “Einfaches für besondere Anlässe” (transl.: Simple food for special occasions). Her recipes have a scientific twist, in which she describes what leavening agents are at work in producing Lebkuchen, and why you shouldn’t use too much pectin when making jams. Although she uses her microwave a bit too much for my taste (especially since I don’t have a microwave), her recipes are delicious and my father, who gave me, my mother, and sisters the same autographed book for Christmas, has been thoroughly enjoying cooking out of it and giving me advice on which dishes to cook. Her Rösti turned out spectacular! I can’t wait to keep cooking with Christiane, as my father affectionately calls her.

The last two books are personal cookbooks that no one else in the world has access to but me (aren’t I special?). The first is my grandmother’s cookbook. She collected these recipes mainly in the years after the war, but also later on. I even found a recipe for gingerbread in my mother’s handwriting. A delicious treasure out of which I baked several Christmas cookies this winter and am hoping to bake and cook more out of in the months to come.

The top book, the spiral-bound, is my own collected recipes book. The book itself was given to me upon my graduation from high school by family friends, and I’ve collected everything from wanton crisps to zucchini bread and lemon miso sauce recipes. Some of the dishes are tried and true (like the incredibly simple and versatile and always really yummy lasagna) and others are on my list of things to try (like the Singapore turkey stew I cut out of Sunset Magazine).

Overall I have plenty to keep me busy cooking, and you can expect to see many of these cookbooks starring on this blog in the future (in English translation of course!). Now it’s your turn: what cookbooks are on your shelf? Which ones are your best friends and you can’t imagine living without? Which ones are patiently waiting their turn? It’s your opportunity to post in the comments section and become a book reviewer!

One Comment to “Cookbooks”

  1. I haven’t been cooking for long, but my very first standby is A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop. He has lots of great ideas for how to eat balanced meals based on seasonal and local foods. Last night I did his recipe for roasted root vegetable and lentil salad for the second time – sooo yummy!

    My aunt gave me a box of family recipes handwritten on cards for Christmas, and I’ve been adding to it with ones I’ve found in Vegetarian Times magazine, the newspaper food section and on the web.

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