I recently enjoyed a lovely post from Liz at Spades, Spatulas & Spoons who talked about her ‘bursting at the seams’ cookbook collection. Although I share Liz’s passion for cookbooks I’m consciously trying to keep some breathing space on my bookcase. So, after a recent overdue purge (and with fewer long neglected books to distract me) I’ve found myself going back to recipes from my favourite books time and time again.
Here, taking inspiration from Liz, I wanted to share the cookbooks I’ve turned to most during the last year or so and why. I’m displaying the books on my new rustic reclaimed wood stand. It was made by hand by Stacy Borocz and her team who repurpose unloved materials such as old timber from abandoned buildings and other items into beautiful homewares. I was kindly sent it by Uncommon Goods, a company who I was happy to share with my readers for reasons I’ll go onto later. In the meantime you can see more of their products here.
My Top 5 Cookbooks
Why these 5? Not only do they all align to my Feast Wisely philosophy, but I’m also confident they’ll make it safely through cookbook purges for years to come.
1. Jamie’s Comfort Food
Firstly the fellow Brit who has long been my biggest source of cooking inspiration. Jamie Oliver. I have a whole stash of Jamie’s cookbooks. Of course I’ve failed miserably many times to prepare many of his 15 minute meals in anything less than 30 minutes. But I still love Jamie’s approach to food.
Jamie’s Comfort food is a celebration of 100 recipes spanning cuisines across the globe. In Jamie’s words the book showcases ‘good mood food that will put a smile on your face’. I agree with him. I’ve lost track of the times I’ve prepared his Big British Meatballs, Ossobuco Alla Milanese and Winter Nights Chilli. Next on my comfort food radar? ‘Divine Dosas’. If you love hearty food and Jamie’s down to earth lingo (genius, scrumptious, epic) then check out this keeper.
2. The OzHarvest Cookbook
OzHarvest is Australia’s first and largest food rescue operation. I’ve talked about OzHarvest before after attending a cooking class with them and then making my own version of their carrot cake. Every day across the country teams of volunteers board OzHarvest vans and collect food that would otherwise be wasted. This food is quickly redistributed to the homeless and others that could go hungry.
Their first cookbook was published back in 2012 and features food rescue recipes from 44 top chefs. Each recipe shows how you can turn simple and often recycled ingredients into delicious meals. Every $1 made from the sale of the book funds two meals for those in need. Of course it makes my top 5.
3. Rick Stein’s India
Cookbooks are my husband’s go-to choice when choosing presents for me. Last year’s birthday gift? Rick Stein’s India. I’ve mentioned this gorgeous book before in recipes like Dhokla with curry leaves & mustard seeds and homemade Garam Masala spice blend. It has quickly become my Indian recipe bible.
Rick Stein spent weeks travelling across India to unlock recipe secrets from chefs, home cooks and street vendors. It’s those recipes (and the associated stories) that you’ll find in this book. I’ve had a few Indian cookbooks in the past and none of them compare to this – every recipe is totally authentic and there are tons of vegetarian dishes that showcase why eating meat isn’t a dietary staple in India.
4. Pete Evans Going Paleo
Although I’m far from strictly paleo I do feel there’s a lot to learn from the paleo way. Like eating a largely plant-based diet. Cutting out refined sugar and grains. Experimenting with less common cuts of meat (like offal). And liberally eating the good fats found in nuts, coconut and extra virgin oils and avocados. So for me this book is a handy ongoing source of paleo inspiration.
In this book Pete Evans puts a Paleo twist on common recipes. Here at Feast Wisely I’ve showcased how easy it is to make gluten free paleo bread and, like him, I’m a big fan of whipping up regular batches of bone broth. We’re starting to hear more about choosing foods ‘your Grandmother would recognise’. With this book it’s easy to take that a step further – to prepare meals using ingredients that our ancestors would have recognised.
5. Natural Wonderfoods
The last book on my list isn’t a cookbook as such but rather a handy nutritional profile of ‘100 amazing foods for healing, immune-boosting, fitness-enhancing and anti-aging’. I recall it was another gift from my husband.
We all know that fruits and vegetables are good for us but this book provides a concise profile of the health benefits of 100 foods, with handy visual symbols that make the content easy to digest. I’m featuring the book here because every profile includes at least one recipe that heroes the said ingredient. It’s not a glossy coffee table cookbook but instead a useful tool for anyone passionate about eating well.
I was drawn to Uncommon Goods after reading about how they’re doing things differently in the world of homewares. A large amount of what they sell is handmade and features recycled and/or upcycled materials. They’re all about creativity and through their vastly stocked website they provide a platform for artists and designers to showcase (and sell) their creations. It feels to me like a business with a strong mission and clear ethics, for example even their lowest paid seasonal workers receive 50% more than the minimum wage. A big thanks to them for sending me the lovely book stand you see here.
By Laura (Feast Wisely)