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My favorite cookbook

Readers share their picks.

July 16, 2008



Almost any cook who also savors words will appreciate Good Cheap Food by Miriam Ungerer (1973). I bought mine as a young writer – I don't remember why I picked it up – and came to love its worldliness and wit. Some of the recipes became once-a-week meals as the kids were growing up.– Joe Applegate, Sharon, Vt.

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Without a doubt my favorite is: Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey by Najmieh Batmanglij (2002). I found this while browsing Barnes and Noble, and a few hours later, I was still salivating at the pictures and recipes as I sat with it on my lap on the floor of the store. The book includes stories from the author's journeys along the Silk Road and also fables from the various areas and traditions. I have tried many of the recipes and they always come out fantastic! The food may look complex, but the author gives easily found substitutes or suggests what can be left out. Every dish is packed with the flavors of all these regions, from pungent curries to aromatic pilafs and even a wide range of refreshing beverages. Flavors of cumin, rose, mint, cardamom ... so many! It's scrumptious and fun. – Amala Lane, New York

Although it was published years ago and my copy is currently in shreds, I still use recipes from Peg Bracken's I Hate to Cook Book (1960) – among them Skid Road Stroganoff, which approximated the fancier variety just fine, and Elevator Lady Spice Cookies, which have become a Christmas standby. Not politically correct, or gourmet, but hey – the recipes are quick, they taste good, and they get you in and out of the kitchen fast.– Tracy Dowling, Silver Spring, Md.

One of my favorite cookbooks is The Complete Round-the-World Cookbook by Myra Waldo. It was first published in 1954; I have a 1962 edition. This book was given to first-class passengers on Pan American Airways, and the recipes were gathered by Pan Am agents in more than 80 countries. Over the past 40 years, I have traveled all over the world (hitchhiking, driving a VW camper bus, assisting with research in an active volcano, honeymooning, having tea with the queen of England, etc.). Upon returning from my journeys I like to cook an "authentic" meal from the countries I have visited, and this cookbook has consistently provided recipes for these dinners. I have a lot of delicious memories.– Gail Uilkema, Piedmont, Calif.

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