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Thread: Need Cookbook Idea for Graduating HS Senior

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2002

    Need Cookbook Idea for Graduating HS Senior

    I want to buy a cookbook for my cousins' cousin who has been living with them for a short time. (SIL's neice from her side) for her graduation present. She is going to commute to community college so doesn't need any traditional things that you would take to a dorm. She has grown up with TV watching as her main interest. My SIL told me that she likes to cook/bake. She also told me that she only knows cooking/baking as worse than Sandra Lee's semi-homemade style. I thought that a cookbook could maybe get her develop something she says she has an interest in. Since she has no experience, I was thinking that Rachael Ray's series would be good since they aren't too complex. But as I was looking through them last night, I saw a lot of recipes with alcohol. Since I'm pretty sure her dad has the "you need alcohol to have fun" and not the "alcohol enhances food" I was wondering if this would be a good idea. The Barefoot Contessa seems to have a mix of classic recipes and then those with a twist, but I'm not sure if that would appeal to an 18-year-old.

    Anybody have any other ideas?
    Last edited by JenniferJJ; 06-04-2004 at 01:59 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Maryland and Pennsylvania
    Food is a very important tradition in my family (I come from a family of bakers). When I left home, I was given some cookbooks that really laid the foundation for my own cooking traditions. I think it's really important to set someone up with the basics. So, I would suggest the basic Betty Crocker (you know, the large ring-bound one with subject tabs) along with a blank recipe book that you have started off with some of your own simple and fun recipes. My mom put in my great-grandfather's cinnamon rolls and her famous broccoli bake, for instance. I am filling that book as best as I can, but because it's not particularly expensive, I don't feel bad about neatness and such.
    Finally, I was given tme Moosewood Low-Fat favorites. This book encouraged me to find stuff that I had only heard about before (small town pennsylvania is not big on soymilk and tabouleh). My point is, give her a book that will encourage her to stretch her boundaries, since that is what college is all about.

    Hope this helps!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Atlanta, GA
    Personally, I consider a 3-ring-binder version of The New Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook to be essential for any kitchen, especially for beginners. I just got my 9-year-old niece the kids' version for her birthday.
    "Why should you go to jail for a crime someone else noticed?" - attorney Bob Loblaw, Arrested Development

    "Spend time with your kids so we don't have to" - Florida Dept. of Juvenile Justice bumper sticker

  4. #4
    I second Stefania4's recommendation. I got that cookbook when I went to college and I still use it regularly. It has several very nice chapters on baking- cookies, cakes, pies, desserts etc. And it also has lots of information on measurements, food storage, etc.

    On the other hand, it might be fun to go with a book that has a lot of personality, or that's written by someone this young woman would identify with. Rachael Ray and Jamie Oliver come to mind... anyone have any other ideas? Mollie Katzen also comes to mind because here writing style is just so friendly and accessible, though her books are vegetarian.

  5. #5
    I also recommend the BHG New cookbook. Since I can not emulate my mother's cooking I have turned to that book several times. When I am in a hurry there is a one-pot spaghetti dish in there I make. It comes out tasting pretty good, which surprised me with the canned products (tomato paste and beef broth) plus the dried herbs you use in it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Indianapolis, IN
    I currently have The King Arthur's All-Purpose Baking Cookbook checked out from the library--it's the newest book for King Arthur I think and it is by far the BEST cookbook for baking i have ever seen...and if you could see my "library" that i ALREADY have My mom used the BHG cookbook ALOT though, so that is a good suggestion too, but if she wants a great baking cookbook that is simple to understand with great explanations, etc. then the king arthur one is a definite! i can't recommend this book enough..and not just for new cooks, but experienced ones too!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Naples, NY
    For our two sons, we bought them the Joy Of Cooking Cookbook when they first left home to go to school and a place of their own. A good, basic cookbook.

    The other thing we did was to organize all our recipes into five photo albums that served as cookbooks with different categories.... main menu, salads and soups, appetizers, desserts, etc. Then ran two copies of ALL the pages to put into books for them. It used to be that we had to keep repeating some of the same recipes and same techniques (like how to make gravy) but now, whenever they call asking for a recipe we can refer them to a particular book and section of those recipe albums. They have both been out of the house and cooking for themselves and either a wife or Sig Other for several years. But, those copies of my organized cookbook albums was probably the best thing we could have done for them and the women in their lives! They are a good basis and have enough pages to be added to with their own personal recipes.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    I would suggest Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything book.

  9. #9
    Everybody has great suggestions. I agree a basic cookbook such as BHG, Betty Crocker or Joy of cooking is essential for every cook. I also reccommend The Four Ingredient Cookbook by Linda Coffee and Emily Cale. I remember in college money and time were always an issue. This book is useful, economical and produces good food that would appeal to a college student( and busy people like the rest of us!). Tyler Florence's Real Kitchen is terrific. I like his style. The way he writes his recipes you almost feel as though he's in the kitchen standing next to you. Good side notes and tips.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Wellesley, MA
    I like the idea of a basic, essential cookbook, but being a busy young college student it might be useful for her to have a cookbook focused on quick, healthy meals such as Cooking Light's Superfast Suppers, which she might find useful to ward off the dreaded Freshmen 15. It also has lots of pictures and menu ideas to help beginning cooks. A cookbook like this with a vast diversity of recipes could develop a basic knowledge of cooking, and help her advance to more challenging, longer recipes.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Seattle, WA
    When each of my two daughters went to college they took a 3-ring binder copy of Betty Crocker (or was it Better Homes & Garden?) and Six Ingredients or Less: Cooking Light & Healthy by Carlean Johnson. They both have graduated from college and from six ingredients or less! (Thank goodness!) One loves Rachael Ray.. the other loves Cooking Light.


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    greensboro, NC

    Check out the following on Amazon:

    "Where's Mom now that I Need Her?" My mom gave me a copy of this, and it's got some good, basic stuff and household and health tips in it. Get the ringbound version, it lays flat and you can add stuff. There's also a "Where's Dad.... " but I'm not as familiar withit.

    "The Healthy College Cookbook: Quck, Cheap and Easy". This was reviewed well on Amazon (But then so was Sandra Lee...blech!). But it really does look like it has potential.

    Two books that are out of print and a little dated but fun to read: "The College Survival Cookbook #1(1973) and #2(1981). They are both out of print but you can get used copies on amazon. They were mostly aimed at clueless guys and helping them survive, but there's some really good info in there for anyone trying to learn how to cook (starting with this strange oven thing) and plan menus, etc. My favorite recipe was "Sean's Roast Rhinocerous", which was actually roast turkey. Their point was, that for all the mystery that often surrounds preparation of a turkey at Thanksgiving, that it might as well be something exotic and complicated like roast rhino, which actually turkey is cheap, easy to cook and gives you tons of great leftovers.

    Hope that's helpful. Once you get on amazon and start searching you'll see even more. I think all the books that have been suggested so far are also great places to start (for someone who's not experienced, I wouldl go more the Joy of Cooking rather than the Mark Bittman route, much as I love the latter!).


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    new jersey
    i'll make my bias known up front.. i lean towards baking. i think there are a few excellent books on baking that are good for a beginner.

    the king arthur flour cookbook is excellent and straightforward and i haven't had a bad recipe from it yet. i can't sing it's praises highly enough.

    if she's into the science of cooking and why 'this' works with 'that' then baking illustrated by the people who do cooks illustrated is fantastic as well. may be a bit more advanced than the king arthur book.

    hope this helps

  14. #14

    Cookbook recommendation

    Personally if I could have just one cookbook it would be Cook's Illustrated Best Recipe (the original, general one). It covers a lot of basic practical dishes that I really make (ie, really *good* meatloaf and chicken and dumplings rather than Blackened Swedish Gummy Bear Souffle or whatever) and describes how the recipe was developed and why it works. To me this is the ideal beginning cookbook. You learn about *cooking*, not just recipes.

    However, some people are turned off by all the text. And it's not as all-inclusive as something like Joy of Cooking (which I also like, in the earlier edition).

    Mark Bittman would also be a good choice.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    West of Boston, MA
    My first cookbook was BH&G and I think it's still a good choice. I recently threw away my original copy (which was rubber banded to hold it together) and bought the latest edition, planning to use it with my kids.

    My other vote would go for Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Meals. I gave a copy to the kids' piano teacher, a college student who loves to cook. I use this cookbook frequently and I would characterize the recipes as fun or trendy as well as pretty simple. I never noticed a lot of alcohol in the recipes in that book, as I try not to cook with it.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Dedham, MA
    I second Katie's suggestion of Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything book. That's the one I got my son when he moved to his own apt. It really does answer the question of how to cook everything! DS uses it all the time.
    Also, given your description, how about The Cake Doctor, or The Dinner Doctor?


  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Indianapolis, IN
    In addition to the great cookbook ideas, might I suggest that you also get her some spices from Penzeys. You could buy several of the little bottles, especially the blends. They would be great for when she doesn't have time to look up recipes, go to the store and buy the ingredients, and finally cook the dishes.

    I had many of the cookbooks that have already been suggested when I started cooking in college. They were very helpful, especially the "Where's Mom Now that I Need Her" and the BHG basics cookbook. Eventually I started taking cooking lessons to really learn how to cook.

    Also, you might want to provide her with some of your own quick and easy recipes. I requested some from my mom, grandma, and great-grandma, and really appreciated their wisdom and experience.

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