Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Favorite Cookbooks

I said last week that I hoped to post about some of my favorite cookbooks.  Now that our daughter, the world traveler, has made it safely to Rwanda, I can think of something else.  There are so many things going on that I want to blog about, but haven't had time to really sit down at the computer much.  Bronwyn was kind of like my personal assistant, and I'm having to get used to her not being around.   Anyway, the cookbooks...

If I lived in the US, I think my favorite cookbooks might be a little different.  I've already confessed that I had to re-invent my cooking style since moving to Brazil.  So, these cookbooks are ones that generally don't use boxed or canned US items.  Almost everything is from scratch.  So, if you are living in another country, or planning to, or know someone who is - these cookbooks might help you out.

This is my go-to cookbook for everything basic.  Everything I have tried from this cookbook has been good.  It gets a lot of use (as you can tell).  My kids have been after me for a while to get this book fixed and I've been procrastinating, but I really should do it because this is a great one and probably my #1 favorite.  Everyone oohs and ahhs over the "perfect chocolate cake" recipe in here.  I have several other newer Southern Living Annual Recipe books.  I like them as well, but many recipes use products that we don't have here.

A sweet retired missionary mom recommended this one to me.  It is from the Mennonite tradition and tells how to cook some things that I normally didn't cook before.  I love the lentil recipes, vietnam fried rice, and it has a great recipe for coating mix for oven-fried chicken.

This is a new cookbook for me, but I already love it.  If you aren't familiar with The Pioneer Woman and especially her cooking site, you should check it out.  Easy to follow instructions, usually everything from scratch and all delicious. (and she's funny)

I use my crockpot a lot.  Here's why:  1.  Cooking takes longer when you aren't using pre-packaged foods.  For example here, we don't even have canned green beans.  If I make green beans, I start with the fresh beans.  Healthier, yes, but definitely takes longer.  It is nice to be able to throw something in the crockpot and forget about it.  2.  In the summertime, it is HOT here.  In my house, the kitchen is the hottest room.  The last thing I want to do in the middle of the day is go into the kitchen and turn on a gas stove or oven.  It is easier in the cool of the early morning to go in and get something started in the crockpot.  3.  I have a big family and I host a lot of things in my house.  I have two crockpots (big ones) and I use them to make big pots of soup or barbeque beef or whatever for a lot of people.

These "Fix it and Forget it" cookbooks have a lot of good recipes using the crock-pot.  They have really come in handy for me.

Someone gave me this for a wedding gift and my kids and I have used it time and again trying out different cookie recipes.

Not a cook book - a website.  I use it all the time.

This is also relatively new to me and I thought at first that it would be too "fancy" for my needs.  But, so far I have really liked it.  There is an awesome recipe in here for pasta with tomatoes and basil, and the molasses cookie recipe is the best.

These last two aren't cookbooks that you can necessarily buy, but they are favorites because they are old tried and true recipes.  I bet you, or your mom or grandma have some cookbooks like these around as well:

Mama Berchia's Recipes

This precious book was made by Kevin's cousin, Jeanne.  It is a collection of Kevin's grandmother's favorite recipes.  Grandma passed away last September, which makes this cookbook all the more special.   This cookbook isn't fancy.  The recipes are just photocopies in Grandma's own handwriting, or the handwriting of the person who gave her the recipe.  But, they are great recipes and our whole family treasures this book.  The chocolate cake that she is holding in the picture on the cover is my kids' favorite cake and is well-loved by many who have eaten it.

Old Church/School Cookbooks

Here is a collection of my cookbooks that were published by schools or churches.  You know, the kind where everyone sends in their favorite recipes.  While some of the newer cookbooks like this have recipes that use ingredients I can't get, the older ones are usually more basic.  So, for me, the older, the better.  My mother in law just sent me a new cookbook like this and I am loving checking out the new recipes.  (thanks, Marie!)

Hope this list will help some of you.  If you have any cookbooks that you think I might like, I'd love to hear about them!


  1. Hi Benay! Thanks for these recommendations! Sent this to a friend who is moving to Uganda this year. Wanted you to know that we know the Koonce family as RHCC supports their teammates the Crowsons! Ron and I were able to go there last year, too. Beautiful country. I know Bronwyn will love being with the great team of missionaries there. RHCC sent 3 families to start a new team there 18 months ago and we also give partial to the Shewmakers. Saw Nancy Shewmaker in one of the pictures Bronwyn sent. So have been a loyal reader of your family's blogs! Very encouraging and a blessing.

    ~Marilyn Holland

  2. I love Pioneer Woman. Made her roast yesterday and the family loved it!! She is very funny. I haven't gotten the cookbook yet...but I will.

    I saw Nancy in the photo too. She taught at my elementary school when I was in high school. small world.