Nothing enriches our lives more than excellent food. So many wonderful recipes are found in carefully compiled cookbooks, which in the digital age, often feel obsolete (at least to me). I admit, I am a google hound. If someone mentions in passing "isn't the origins of the term 'banana republic' kind of mean or something?" I am the first to pull up my web browser and find an answer. When my betrothed mentioned he'd like to add some spices to brown rice my immediate answer was "why don't you google it?" I have countless stained printouts of recipes that range from buttercream frosting to stuffed peppers. Sometimes I just keep my trusty laptop open on the kitchen table to my chosen recipe. Despite my google fever, particularly when it comes to how to cook the food I have, I refer to some really fantastic cookbooks.
I cook a lot of vegetable heavy meals, trying to be light on oil and salt. One of my favorites is Marie Simmons' The Amazing World of Rice. I have not properly explored all the recipes that this book has to offer, but her section on rice salads is a godsend. After a long day at work, at a loss for what to make, I can easily flip this open because so many of the ingredients are on hand - chickpeas, tomato, a few spices, some chicken. I frequently try to plan meals for the week, so I have some idea of what to buy and in glancing through this book I have been inspired to try new spices or pick up a salmon steak to go with my sushi rice salad with cucumber and toasted sesame seeds. Even when not following a recipe, I've been inspired to use ideas from one recipe - like roasted chickpeas and add them to an entirely different meal.
My other favorite cookbook is Myra Goodman's Food to Live By, in the vegetable and healthy cooking theme, I selected this book because it focused on organic cooking. Even though I will substitute fresh foods for frozen, the emphasis on fruits and vegetables in cooking appealed to me. I've tried recipes from a few different chapters in this book - like the raspberry corn muffins (delicious! make them right now!), stir-fry, garlicky green beans and spaghetti with tomatoes, zucchini and basil. The photos in this book are fantastic and convincing. I tried out the spaghetti recipes because the photo featured ingredients I had on hand and it turned out great. Additionally, Goodman includes full page features about different varieties of tomato and squash, etc to familiarize readers with all the culinary possibilities. I am quite interested to check out a farmer's market this summer with my new found knowledge of produce.
While a google search provides quick and easy results for culinary inquiries, cookbooks still stand the test of time for overall kitchen learning.