Young couple tasting tomato sauce while cooking in the kitchen. Cheerful man and smiling woman holding spatula in hand ready to taste red sauce. Multiethnic couple cooking together at home.

Returning to the Home-Cooked Meal

With pandemic social distancing measures, many folks have dusted off their kitchen utensils and returned to making dinner at home.

While there are always Internet recipes to try, many crowdsourced recipes ultimately prove disappointing. So where can a new or rusty cook turn to for advice and recipes that will please the family but not take up the afternoon?

WOW found five cookbooks that represent solid additions to the kitchen cupboard—any of which would make great housewarming gifts for newly independent adults. Some also come with apps and web sites to tuck their wisdom into your smartphone.

Give them a try. But don’t be discouraged by the time commitment. The first time you try a recipe, it usually takes a good deal longer than the next time you make it.

The New Best Recipe Cookbook

Would you make 20 different versions of roast chicken to find the absolute best recipe? The authors of this huge cookbook did for every entry, and they carefully explain what they learned. The cookbook holds over 1,000 recipes and offers easy tutorials on both cooking terminology and methodology—like carving a turkey.

The Joy of Cooking

Yes, a stained version of this cookbook was in your grandma’s kitchen. There’s good a reason, however, that after 90 years (with regular updates), The Joy of Cooking is still considered the Kitchen Bible. Also containing over 1,000 recipes, the latest 2019 edition introduces new recipes for new cooking approaches and a chapter on streamlined cooking for those looking to save time and money.

How to Cook Everything: The Basics

Mark Bittman’s essential teaching cookbook is aimed at building the confidence – and skillset – of a person just learning his or her way around the kitchen. While the cookbook offers about 185 recipes, once you’ve mastered a bunch here, you can reach for Bittman’s more comprehensive cookbook with the same name, featuring 2,000 recipes. Bittman also has a very well-regarded vegetarian version of his cookbook.

A Modern Way to Cook

Anna Jones’ vegetarian cookbook offers over 150 recipes geared toward healthier but still tasty eating. Aware of the challenging of cooking after a long workday, Jones groups her recipes by preparation time, offering options ranging 15, 20, 30 and 40 minutes. Looking for a delicious Smoky Pepper and White Bean Quesadilla or Chickpea Pasta in a simple but delicious tomato sauce, Jones’ book will help you all but set the table.

The Baking Bible

With the scarcity of flour and yeast on supermarket shelves, Americans have returned to baking their favorite comfort foods with a vengeance. But if you’re looking to learn the craft (baking really is a different craft than cooking) or if you want to branch out from your family’s passed down favorites, turn to Rose Levy Beranbaum. You can start with Rose’s Baking Basics, which offers relatively easy, can’t fail favorites, from perfect brownies and birthday cake to peach cobbler. Slightly more experienced and looking for a broader look at baking? Check out Beranbaum’s The Baking Bible, which offers details and tips and more than 130 recipes for whipping up cupcakes, pastries, tarts and breads.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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