We’re officially in the season of good food, comfort meals, and celebratory cooking & baking, with the holiday season just around the corner! Personally, it’s my favorite time-of-year for consuming, making, and sharing food. It’s no secret, our kitchen is my happy place in our home, and I’ve been enjoying spending even more time in there than usual. Of course I have my tried & true go-to recipes and a Pinterest board filled with delectable ones to try, but I still turn to cookbooks for the best inspiration in the kitchen. I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorites with you today. Whether you love cooking & baking, are searching for easy gift ideas, or want to style some functional cookbooks into your own kitchen… I hope these will give you some ideas! Click through to see which cookbooks I own and love.
During art school, I was awarded a scholarship that included a grant… while the other scholarship winners were out spending their money on paints, new rulers, and design supplies for their thesis- I marched straight to the bookstore. Why, and what does this have to do with cookbooks? My design school gallery thesis was an installation on cooking, baking, and heirloom family recipes rooted in tradition, emotion, and flavor. It’s something I’m still very passionate about! I designed pantry staple packaging, seeds and gardening infographics on growing and making your own food, and my most coveted piece- a giant heirloom cookbook filled with mine and Emmett’s family recipes. From great grandparents and aunts & uncles to cousins and siblings… the book contains hundreds of our family’s best food that has been made time and time again. It also includes history, tidbits, and info on who created the recipe, how and where it was often made, and how the food was enjoyed. It was a true passion project for me in college and it’s still a special book we often reference. Needless to say, I’ve always been a person who loves cookbooks (you will always see one displayed on my countertop), spending time in the kitchen, and sharing meals with loved ones.
My friend Laurie Anne and her husband just left after a five day visit, and she said something that made me think… “I love how you and Emmett spend time cooking and appreciate sharing good food.” I would consider Emmett & myself foodies, but her statement felt accurate- with an emphasis on sharing. When people come into our home, I enjoy showing them my appreciation, gratitude, and love by being cooking for them. The common cliché “homemade with love” phrase rings pretty true in our household. Sharing meals, making memories around the table, and consuming great food is basically my love language. Even if it’s just Emmett & myself at home, we still make dinner together and thank whoever cooked. It’s special! I think I enjoy spending so much time in our kitchen because I can be creative in a different way, feed my favorite people, and enjoy food. Food just has a way of bringing people together!
Personally, I enjoy baking more than cooking. I’m always the designated dessert maker for friend & family functions, but I enjoy having lots of cookbooks to reference, that contain great recipes of all sorts! You’ll find a good mix in my tried & true roundup below. It’s fun to mix up your regular routine and try something new! Who knows… maybe you’ll discover a new recipe to add to your regular rotation.
Click directly on my cookbooks in the collage to be redirected to the source- or use the numbered links below to shop…
01: genius recipes // 02: appetizers // 03: the sprouted kitchen // 04: the cook’s atelier // 05: mast brothers chocolate // 06: cook beautiful // 07: the full plate // 08: dining in // 09: genius desserts // 10: the best make ahead recipes // 11: momofuku milk bar // 12: simple // 13: sunny side up // 14: le picnic // 15: dumplings and noodles // 16: the art of french baking // 17: modern comfort food // 18: sweet // 19: dinner // 20: sunday suppers // 21: nothing fancy // 22: one pot // 23: magnolia table // 24: let’s do dinner
There are SO many incredible cookbooks packed into this roundup (I told you I own a LOT), therefore it’s difficult to narrow down my favorites. It depends on what you’re in the mood for! Ayesha Curry’s new cookbook (#7) came out last month, and it’s wonderful. I had the privilege of meeting her and dining at her restaurant in San Francisco, International Smoke, on a work trip last year. She is so talented and the food was amazing. I’m looking forward to trying more of her recipes from her latest cookbook. I adore all of my French baking books, and there are plenty of others that come in handy for small dinner parties, hosting, and entertaining. I’m always looking for appetizer ideas or food I can make in advance! Cook Beautiful by Athena Calderone (#6) is another favorite we use often. I’m a big fan of eating seasonal flavors, so there are certain go-to recipes Emmett and I make at varying times of the year.
I would be a happy lady if I could bake something every single day, but it takes quite a bit of time and I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t be consuming THAT many calories. Ha! I save baking for special occasions or as a way to de-stress in the kitchen. I often share treats with neighbors, friends, and anyone else who would like a bite of something sweet. It’s a fun way to surprise people!
When it comes to styling cookbooks in the kitchen, my preference is to leave them out for easy access. In our current kitchen, I even designed a designated spot for my cookbooks to live (pictured below). In our previous kitchen, I just stacked them in the corner on the countertop. I like the texture they add, and it’s a good reminder to try new recipes…. kind of like clothing in your closet- if you can’t see something, you probably won’t wear it. Having a visual reminder that you have recipe and dinner options is always good!
While I love using cookbooks in my own kitchen, they also make a wonderful gift for new homeowners, newlyweds, the host or hostess, someone who has just finished a kitchen renovation, or creative friends & family who are passionate about cooking & baking. I like to pair a tea towel or utensil set with a cookbook for an awesome, fast gift. I’ve also been gifted many cookbooks over the years, and I can tell you exactly who gifted me what book. It makes me think of that person each time I use it, which puts a smile on my face!
Last month I shared my favorite interior design books, if you’re looking for inspiration on that topic! This has truly been a year of books and reading for me… getting back to my roots has felt really good. I’ve been reading two books per month and have been flipping through pages for inspiration more than I have in the past. While I love connecting online and searching the web for recipes, inspiration, and information- it has been really nice to appreciate physical copies, meaningful moments, and to unplug and find creativity in new (old) ways. Do you use cookbooks? I guess I should probably ask if you enjoy cooking or baking, first? If so- where do you find your best recipes? Has anyone else been spending more time than usual in the kitchen? Who else agrees that this is the best season for delicious food?
PeggiOctober 21, 2020 at 6:01 am
Yay for time in the kitchen! I also say that food is my love language and a creative outlet. I could spend hours creating ridiculous cakes with interesting flavor combinations and party or meal menus around a theme or season. (I’m working on a 3-tier 80th birthday cake now!) I have a dilemma with cookbooks though. I rarely like to make the same recipe, so a cookbook can have a limited life for me. I do enjoy books that I consider instructional or focused. I own and frequently reread sections of The Cake Bible. I also recently found a previous version of Martha’s hors d’ouevres book for a dollar at the thrift store! I love Ottolenghi, and that Sweet book looks right up my alley! I’ve considered the Milk cookbook; have you made any of her cakes? They’re bananas! I enjoy Athena’s “Unplugged” cooking stories, so I know her recipes are great. I tend to use Pinterest because it’s vast and fast, but I have learned that some sites are more reliable than others. Deb at Smitten Kitchen is a go to; I have and love her first book. Food 52 is wonderful, and who could resist Ina?! Honestly, I could talk about food all day! Thanksgiving! Cookie swaps!
And speaking of impending birthdays…what would be your choice for a birthday cake? 💜🎂 Happy Wednesday!
SarahOctober 21, 2020 at 7:47 pm
Cheers to love languages that involve food and being creative in the kitchen! I could also spend hours baking… I want to have a cake baking party with you someday, so you can teach me your ways! A 3-tier bday cake?! That sounds like a dream, and I bet the 80th birthday will be a smashing success because of it. I also own The Cake Bible… as well as Martha Stewart’s Cooking (and Baking) School. Both were more informative, instructional, and have provided a good reference for me over the years. Great point on longevity! Although, I don’t mind making the same recipe more than once. YES- the momofuku milk bar cookbook is a definite favorite and I love making her cakes. Have you watched the Chef’s Table series on Christina Tosi on Netflix? If not- I highly recommend! I felt super inspired after watching that… which led me to buy the cookbook. Athena’s recipes are always good, Smitten Kitchen, and Food 52 are also go-to websites for me. I wonder if we’re eating the same things? I could also talk about food all day. Bring on Thanksgiving, cookie swaps, holiday dinners, and all the tasty things. Emmett usually mails me cookies (or has them delivered) for my birthday, but I don’t have the heart to tell him I’m more of a cake gal. Lol! I’m partial to the solid, classic choices like chocolate & vanilla. What’s your preference? Hope your Wednesday was awesome! xo
Melissa DOctober 21, 2020 at 6:59 am
100% agree with your opinion in this post – the kitchen is my happy place, and there’s nothing I love more than cooking and feeding my friends and family. We’ve been so busy lately with packing/moving and just life in general that we have become much too dependent on takeout/food delivery, so this post is a great motivator to get back in there and start whipping up some good homemade food! I already added several of the cookbooks you mentioned to my Christmas wish list. I love your idea of a cookbook and utensil set as a gift – definitely remembering that one for the future! Happy Wednesday!
Melanie TOctober 21, 2020 at 7:32 am
I have to say that I bet your thesis topic still stands as unique in design schools. Very creative! One of my Covid projects was going through boxes of recipes I clipped out of newspapers and magazines but never had time to collate, as well as donating cookbooks that I no longer use. A major incentive for this was discovering that I had food sensitivities contributing to joint issues and digestive problems. So now Pintrist is my favorite source of recipe inspiration. I love good food and do miss former favorites. Usually acceptable substitutions ruin the end results! Most of all, I really dislike being the guest who comes off as the picky eater. The upside to modifying my diet is that I have been able to get off the prescription that I hated to take due to side effects. Anyway, I appreciate your passion for good food, plus cooking at home and eating real foods is key to long term health. Cheers to great food!
SarahOctober 21, 2020 at 7:40 pm
Thank you, Melanie! It was such a fun, emotional, and special project for me. I will forever cherish the heirloom cookbook that came from it! I’ve also been doing organization projects over here. I wonder if there are any cookbooks that are focused on your specific diet? I’m sorry you have to deal with it, but I hope you’re feeling better now that you’ve figured out what food you are sensitive toward? That’s a major win that you were able to discontinue your meds! Amazing!! We have plenty of friends and family members with allergies and sensitivities and we don’t think twice about altering our menu or making them a separate dish. Your friends and family love you, and I’m sure they don’t mind making modifications at all! I have a severe shellfish allergy and I always worried that I would hurt someone’s feelings if I turned down a particular dish or made special requests at restaurants, but we’re probably more self conscious about it, while others probably don’t care. I try to remind myself of that anyway :) Cheers to great food and good health! xo
LaurenOctober 21, 2020 at 12:42 pm
I’ll start by saying that I love baking far more than cooking…and my love language is also good food. However my love language prefers great food, cooked and cleaned up by someone else. 😂🤣 How’s that for honesty on this fine Wednesday morning?? Lol. I guess I can refine my statement from above: I love cooking for my relatives during the holiday season-its why I insist on hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas every year. Something about the smells in the kitchen, the comfort and closeness of having family gathered around…it truly brings me joy. I don’t love cooking dinner on the daily for my family…because KIDS. Despite my diligence at introducing them to a variety of foods at an unusually early age, they just can’t appreciate variety and a flavorful palette the way adults can. Dinner in our house has become monotonous, mundane, and a complete chore. I would LOVE if Jeff would cook with me the way we did in our previous house, or if he and the kids sat nearby to chat and keep me company while I cook…my soul craves that attention and closeness. Lately that’s far from what dinner prep looks like and I’ve gotten in a cooking funk. Baking is more my jam. Now that fall is ushering in (and I was able to score the last four cans of pumpkin at the grocer), it looks like some baked goods are on the horizon!
Your thesis cookbook sounds incredible!! I’d love to have something similar. Unfortunately the people whose recipes I loved the most have passed, and those recipes weren’t documented. I’d love to become a good enough cook/baker to play around in the kitchen and recreate them one day, but that’s going to have to wait until retirement at this rate!! Hahaha!
I have a cookbooks that I love, and some that were just passed down to me unused. When the kitchen gets a remodel down the road I plan on purging and adding ones I’ll use more, with a convenient storage solution for them to be accessible and displayed. They’re currently on top of my upper cabinets which is not ideal for use, but it’s the only place for them. Love your roundup and can’t wait to peruse that list more when time allows. Have a happy Wednesday!!
SarahOctober 21, 2020 at 7:21 pm
HAHA!! I love you for that, Lauren! I am getting super excited for holiday food. Your comment just got me so excited for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I can imagine cooking for kids is challenging. I think you and Jeff need a fancy dinner date night at home. Light the candles, cook something awesome, and make dessert (if you can escape from your kiddos long enough)! I’m so glad to hear you scored some pumpkin! I’m all out and haven’t been able to find any. My thesis cookbook is still one we use all the time. Some of the recipes in it are over 150 years old! It’s really special and was a combined effort from both of our families. I just translated it into a pretty book. Of course all of our family members got copies at my gallery show, so that was cool. I hope you had a wonderful Wednesday, my friend :) xo