YES! Picks :: Our Favorite Cookbooks

Home cooking with fresh, seasonal ingredients is an important part of a sustainable food system. Your own kitchen can be the most delightful place to join the local food revolution.

That's why the staff at YES! put together the ultimate cookbook shelf. Take a look and bon appetit!



Family Cookbook :: The New Basics :: Feeding the Whole Family :: Pretend Soup

Adam MacKinnonOur best recipe book is the one we've made ourselves, and added to over the years. My mother-in-law wrote in many of her favorite recipes for us. It's well-thumbed, and well-stained, always a good sign!

Other personal favorites include The New Basics Cookbook: every couple of months I tackle their vegetarian lasagne, which is an all-day project.

Cynthia Lair's Feeding the Whole Family has provided us with a range of great options for healthy food that even a fussy 5-year-old will enjoy.

And if you're looking to introduce children to cooking, a great place to start is with Pretend Soup, full of simple but fun recipes in picture form that even the youngest child can 'read' and follow.
—Adam MacKinnon, Online Editor

Buy The New Basics Cookbook
Buy Feeding the Whole Family
Buy Pretend Soup

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Cover of The New Basics, Feeding the Whole Family and Pretend Soup

Unplugged Kitchen: A Return to the Simple, Authentic Joys of Cooking
Viana La Place, Morrow Cookbooks, 1996

This is the book I reach for when I wander into the kitchen at the end of a hectic day, less for dazzling recipes than for its calming influence.

La Place invites me to relax in my lived-in kitchen and return to the simple, authentic joys of cooking. After she displays her own kitchen and pantry (which includes her grandmother's old, rickety colander), you will look with new fondness at your chipped mixing bowls and worn cutting board. She conjures up the sensual pleasure of unfussy foods and convincingly makes the case for minimal kitchen gadgetry. No food processors or measuring cups here: measure with fistfuls and pinches and with whatever spoons and cups are handy. No plastic wrap here: cover your bowls with plates. Tucked between pages are snippets of food memories and musings.

Her recipes, ranging from humble to urbane, are never complicated: baked tomatoes with brown sugar, peach sandwich, black olives simply heated, grilled bread with goat cheese and honey. Sometimes just reading them is satisfying enough.
—Tracy Dunn, Art Director

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The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks for a Crowd: Recipes with a Vegetarian Emphasis for 24 or More
Moosewood Collective, Wiley, 1996

Audrey WatsonI live in a cohousing neighborhood, and often need to cook for 20-40 people. This book is great for sizing recipes, and it offers vegetarian options. Each recipe includes nutrition information and cook and prep times.
—Audrey Watson, Online Managing Editor

Buy this book

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Cooking by the Seasons: Simple Vegetarian Feasts
Karri Ann Allrich, Llewellyn Publications, 2003

Kevin AudlemanI like this book because I like to be able to flip to the "Winter" section in winter and find recipes that are full of potatoes, onions, and hearty, winter-time root vegetables.

I have never been particularly in-tune with the seasons, and as a result, I can't tell what's in season versus what's been shipped here from Bolivia when I go to the grocery store.

This cookbook is helping me become more conscious of the seasons and what it means to live in their rhythm.
—Kevin Audleman, Data Systems Programmer

Buy this book

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How to Cook Everything
Mark Bittman, Wiley, 2006

Rod ArakakiA modern Joy of Cooking. It's the cookbook we usually start with, giving us enough knowledge about most foods and basic recipes to make the most of any ingredients that come our way, or to create something out of the pantry! His new book, Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes, sounds perfect for the times and for many YES! readers.
—Rod Arakaki, Business Manager

Laura KaliebeI used to work at a cooking store and school, and we always recommended How to Cook Everything. The book has very simple, easy recipes that taste great—it’s perfect for beginners. I still use it almost every day.
—Laura Kaliebe, Online Editorial Intern

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The Language of Baklava
Diana Abu-Jaber, Anchor, 2006

Lilja OttoEvery chapter of Abu-Jaber's memoir revolves around one or two delicious recipes. As she tells stories from her childhood spent both in suburban America and in Jordan, you can almost smell the roasted lamb with spices her dad would prepare for the extended family. Recipes are adapted for ingredients available here, and range from elaborate Jordanian sweets to the best grilled cheese.
—Lilja Otto, Associate Online Editor

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The Angelica Home Kitchen: Recipes and Rabble Rousings from an Organic Vegan Restaurant
Leslie McEachern, Ten Speed Press, 2003

Sam KimballThe recipes are healthy, delicious and completely vegan. Plus, it includes lots of food stories and a glossary. I refer to it constantly.
—Samantha Kimball, Education Intern

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The New Best Recipe
Cooks Illustrated, America's Test Kitchen, 2004

Audrey WatsonBeing a techie at heart, I like how they test multiple ways of doing things and then explain why they picked what they did, often with a scientific reason.
—Audrey Watson, Online Managing Editor

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My Grandmother's Notepad

Jing FongI have a few Filipino recipes that my grandmother wrote down on a notepad. Of course, there are no exact measurements, just ingredients. This is especially true for her lumpia recipe—everyone has their very own secret filling. I treasure that she wrote down her ingredients, and now they are mine, too.
—Jing Fong, Education Outreach Manager

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The New Vegetarian Epicure
Anna Thomas, Knopf Publishing Group, 1996

Susan GleasonI *love* cookbooks—and I have to stop myself from continuing to get more of them.

My favorite cookbooks are those where the author has a really strong voice, and you feel like they're sharing their best cooking tips and wisdom with you. I also enjoy those cookbooks that provide a context for a dish—either suggesting a full menu, or tossing out ideas about complementary flavors.

The New Vegetarian Epicure is one that I always come back to: This cookbook is so full of elegant menus and delicious dishes, I never get tired of looking through it. No pictures, but expertly described recipes.
—Susan Gleason, Media & Outreach Manager

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Seriously Simple: Easy Recipes for Creative Cooks
Diane Rossen Worthington, Chronicle Books, 2002

Jess Lind-DiamondMost recipes have 5 steps or fewer, with half a dozen ingredients. I can concentrate on my creation, rather than losing my place in a long, complicated recipe. The photos are beautiful, the dishes are low-stress but yummy and elegant.
—Jessica Lind-Diamond, Development Coordinator

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Joy of Cooking
Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker, Scribner Book Company, 2006

Sharon BoothMy favorite is a classic relic of the 70's (I have the 1972 edition), because that's when I really learned how to cook. I love it because it has chapters like "Know Your Ingredients" and "About" sections that introduce every grouping of recipes—"About Custards," "About Proofing Yeast Dough," "About Canning Processes" etc. Forget the recipes; it's a wealth of information about the science and process of cooking that's so basic to both good cooking and improvisation.
—Sharon Booth, Circulation Design Manager

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YES! staff picked their favorite cookbooks for Food for Everyone, the Spring 2009 issue of YES! Magazine.
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