Wednesday, October 8, 2014

October is National Cookbook Month

Dust off your cookbooks and get ready for the baking season

cookbooks on a shelf
In the 1950s, one of the more popular gifts for the new bride was a copy of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. My mother was one of those lucky brides. This became her favorite cookbook and one of the few cookbooks in her kitchen while I was growing up. I learned how to cook, grocery shop, and eat healthy from this one book.

Yes, I learned all that from a cookbook. That cookbook taught me how to plan meals, frost a cake with flair, sear a roast beef, substitute for ingredients not on hand, find nutrition information for the foods we ate, and get creative in the kitchen.

Cookbooks aren't boring. Cookbooks are fun and I love to collect cookbooks. Just look inside my kitchen bookshelf and you'll only see the half of it. There are cookbooks for most any occasion. All-purpose cookbooks. Beverage guides. Bread baking recipes. Vegetarian dishes. And more.

What Makes a Cookbook Worth Having? 

A good cookbook is any cookbook that helps you prepare delicious and nutritious meals that you can reasonably re-create in your kitchen. Here are a few guidelines to help you choose a cookbook that is right for you.
  • Does the cookbook appeal to you? Choose a cookbook that serves up recipes that you and your family will enjoy eating. 
  • Are the recipe instructions easy to follow? Read a few of the recipes. Directions that are split into numbered steps are easier to follow than directions that are grouped into paragraphs. 
  • Is the cookbook organized so that recipes are easy to find? Most cookbooks are organized into sections whether it be by type of food (meat, fish, poultry), cooking method (baking, broiling, boiling), or by the dish (breakfast, lunch, dinner).
  • Is the cookbook easy to work with in the kitchen? Does it lay flat? If it doesn't, buy a cookbook holder that not only keeps the book open but also keeps food from splattering on the book pages.
  • Did the cookbook teach you any new tricks? Look for cookbooks that share a few tricks of the cooking trade. A cookbook should make cooking an adventure that is enjoyed and savored.

My Favorite All Purpose Cookbook

My all time favorite cookbook is still the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. I don't have my mom's old ring binder version, although I did tell her to leave it to me in her will, but I do have a fat and dog eared paperback version that is my go-to guide in the kitchen.

The Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book has been updated consistently since 1930. I have the 10th Edition and the 16th Edition was just published in September, 2014. Inside this cookbook you'll find:

  • Over 1200 recipes and 1000 color photos.
  • Suggestions on how to make the same dish in different ways.
  • Chapters on holiday meals and home canning.
  • A fruit and vegetable guide with photos.

A Cookbook That Makes Me Feel Good

My second favorite cookbook is one that I've recently acquired, Kitchen Confidence by Kelsey Nixon. I love this book and you won't guess why. I love this book because it makes me smile. It's one of those books that gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Why does this book make me smile? Kelsey Nixon's sunny personality just shines off the pages. Learning new things is so much easier when you have a friendly person standing by your side. I absolutely adore this book and you can read more about my ravings in my book review, Food Makes the Love Go Round.

What Are Your Favorite Cookbooks?

There's no right or wrong when it comes to cookbooks. I have a shelf full of recipes and other foodie concoctions. Even though many of these books are only opened on rare occasions, each of my cookbooks has a special purpose in my kitchen.

Tell me about your favorite cookbook in the comments below. And, if you don't have a favorite, take a look at my selections and add some spice to your cooking routine.

Bon app├ętite!

Posted by Coletta Teske
Coletta Teske

About This Contributor

Coletta Teske writes reviews on books, business management, writing, crafting, cooking, and gardening. She is also an avid recycler and shares her tips on recycling. She delights in upcycling an old object, recycling or transforming discarded items into a new treasure.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. I love my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook! I also received it as a wedding gift and I very much remember how helpful it was to me, especially as a new wife. Mine even has a nice picture of how a table should be set. I referred to that for years each time we hosted a dinner party. I do love a great cookbook!

    1. Cynthia, I can't list all of the things I learned from that one cookbook. What is so cool, that Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book was written so that an 8 year old could understand and learn. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I also have the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook (the ring binder version), along with the McCall's Cookbook, which is similar in lots of recipes and kitchen knowledge. The funniest (and practical) cookbook was given to me by my apartment roomie just before I left to get married. After tasting MY cooking, she did all the cooking and then gave me Peg Bracken's "I Hate to Cook Book" :).

    1. Elf, this is too funny. I have a copy of Peg Bracken's "Appendix to the I Hate To Cook Book." I'm not sure why I have it in my collection. It must be something that I picked up at a Friends of the Library sale. Thank you for visiting!

  3. I too received the Better Homes and Garden cookbook when I got married 46 years ago! Other cookbooks have come and gone but my trusty red and white book, a bit worn from using, is still on my shelf and although I don't use it as often as I did as a young bride it still comes in handy.

    1. Mary Beth, you and I both started using the Better Homes cookbook about the same time. I was just tall enough to work at the kitchen counters. And, having a ring binder cookbook was cool. I just took out the recipe page I wanted and stuck it on the cabinet doors while I whipped up a delicious dessert.

  4. Well, my cookbooks have all turned into my Kindle, but I do still have my Betty Crocker cookbook from years and years ago! National Cookbook month is a great excuse to try out a new one.

    1. Yes, National Cookbook Month is a great time to try out a new cookbook. And, it is so cool that many are available for the Kindle.

  5. I am no longer a collector of cookbooks but I still have my favorite cookbook, Joy of Cooking, given to me by my mother-in-law in 1972.

    1. I wish I still had my copy of Joy of Cooking. That is an awesome cookbook! Enjoy!

  6. The Better Homes and Garden Cook Book looks wonderful - strangely enough, I never really thought of getting my husband a cookbook as a gift, but as I was reading your article it crossed my mind that he would appreciate a gift like this

    1. Giving a guy a cook book is a fantastic idea. I know many guys that love to cook and several that would like to be better cooks. I really enjoy my Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book. I have handwritten notes all over it!

  7. The latest cookbook I bought was one on baking. However, I've been so busy writing, I haven't had the chance to try many of the recipes so far.


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