Cooking is one of my passions, and it was also a saving grace this past year while I was finishing up my last graduate degree. There are few things better than knowing you have a warm, filling lunch on a day when you’re in class for six hours straight. Coming home at night after a long commute and experimenting in the kitchen was also a great way to de-stress. My cooking has developed so much in the last year, and it’s mostly thanks to these cookbooks.
- The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
I bought this book on a whim after SmartBitchesTrashyBooks listed it in one of their Daily Deals roundups, and oh am I glad I did. While I knew that vegan food could be exciting, this book taught me how to go completely off-piste, creating meals that were totally new, rather than new versions of old favourites. My top recipes from this book include the Oat Bread, Cashew Curry, and all of the Red Lentil Dals.
2. The Taco Cleanse by Wes Allison, Stephanie Bogdanich, Molly R. Frisinger, and Jessica Morris
I love cooking Mexican food, but prior to getting this book (also from a SmartBitchesTrashyBooks Daily Deals email), that usually meant utilising the many packets of Trader Joe’s Taco Seasoning that I brought with me from the US and dumping it into some beans. This book taught me how to get the aromatics of my favourite dishes down pat, and there isn’t a recipe in here that hasn’t turned out wonderfully. My absolute favourite is the Minimalist Nacho Cheese, which tastes just like that delightful neon yellow cheese that comes out of a container at sporting events, thought the Beer Battered Portobellos are a close second.
3. Veganish by Mielle Chénier-Cowan Rose
What I love about this book is that it teaches you the basics, then has guidelines for when you want to branch out on your own and start experimenting with your own flavours. This book helped me master risotto and introduced me to Angry Sauce, aka the best pasta sauce of my whole life (so good that my Mom told me it was better than my Grandma’s!).
4.Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home by the Moosewood Collective
This is an oldy but a goody. My parents let me take this from their cookbook collection when I became a vegetarian two years ago, and since then I have made so many delicious recipes from it. Standouts include the Italian-Style Tofu Pizza, Tofu Burritos, and the Risotto with Pesto and Green Beans. This book might have been published in 1994, but it’s evergreen.
Pro-tips: Something I’ve found to be essential when using cookbooks is to write in them. Make notes about what worked in a recipe and what didn’t, note what spices you added or took out, and note if the portion sizing is correct. This helps future-you the next time you flip back to that recipe, so you know you’ll get a perfect finished product without having to really think about it.