What does the family living in 550 cozy square feet of rural bliss keep on the–naturally also very small–kitchen bookshelf? Well, here’s a list of what I can’t do without in MY kitchen.

1. Joy of Cooking

This book is usually the origin from which most great spur-of-the-moment kitchen improvisations descend. Be careful which edition you get! Since you will mostly use this book from the index, looking things up, you want one of the more complete editions. If you have an older copy that frustrates you, it might be worth getting a new one. The biography of Irma Rombauer, Stand Facing the Stove, tells the story of the development of the Joy of Cooking from one of those small town Junior League fund-raiser type cookbooks to ultimate American kitchen bible of today. It’s a great gift for those who love to cook, when you’re tired of kitchen gadgets!

2. Tartine Bread

I have gone through lots of books about bread in the search for the perfect sourdough loaf. My conclusion is that most of them are, at best, completely unhelpful. Because really what it comes down to is pictures. LOTS of pictures. This book has a zillion gorgeous, step-by-step pictures, produces absolutely glorious bread, and also includes a bunch of recipes at the back for using up all that bread you make. And when you’re a half hour trip from your nearest “fresh” bread, the little bit of effort it takes to make your own doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

3. Food to Live By

This book, from the founders of Earthbound Farms in the Salinas Valley, incorporates locally available seasonal farm produce (all you California Foodies) into a wide range of simple, belly-filling kid- and guy-friendly meals. There are meat main dishes, but it’s very produce-centric rather than revolving around beef, fish, and poultry.

Stay tuned, I’ll be adding a couple more as I have time…


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