Cookbook Classics

If you have space for only a few cookbooks in your kitchen here are some cookbook classics to consider.

Fannie Farmer Cookbook The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, still in print more than a century after it was first published in 1896, was originally titled The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book. Farmer’s cookbook was a follow-up to the Boston Cook Book published by Mary J. Lincoln in 1884. Farmer had been a student at the Boston Cooking School and eventually became school principal. Her cookbook became very popular and has been regularly reprinted, revised and updated for decades. Fanny Farmer’s cookbook was the first to attempt to standardize measurements in recipes. The recipes feature clear, straightforward directions. It remains a cookbook classic that cooks return to again and again for its more than 1000 recipes. If you’re looking for a basic but comprehensive cookbook this is one for your bookshelf. Aspiring cooks will love the Fannie Farmer Cookbook.

The Joy of Cooking, first published by Irma Rombauer in 1931, remains many a cook’s bible today. Rombauer initially self-published her cookbook. Several years later a publisher picked it up and over the decades The Joy of Cooking has had a number of revisions and editions. Millions of copies have been sold. First published during the Depression, Rombauer’s cookbook remains a comprehensive and much consulted guide for America’s cooks.

Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book was first published by General Mills in 1950, and is now known as the Betty Crocker Cookbook. Betty’s cookbook, now in its 10th edition, has sold many millions of copies. This cookbook classic is filled with how-tos, troubleshooting, and helpful charts. It’s a great cookbook for beginners and it will remain one of the favorites in your collection for years to come. Not to dash any illusions but there’s never been a Betty Crocker. She was invented by the Washburn-Crosby Co., a flour mill company and producers of Gold Medal Flour, around 1920. Washburn-Crosby eventually became General Mills and Betty Crocker only grew in popularity. A number of recipe booklets and pamphlets with Betty Crocker as “author” were published in the years before and after the Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book was first published.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking Julia Child, living with her husband Paul in Paris after WWII, studied at the Cordon Bleu cooking school. With classmates, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, she wrote the two-volume cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, first published in 1961. The cookbook, which attempted to adapt French cooking for American cooks, immediately became a bestseller. Julia Child’s reputation grew, as did cookbook sales, with her popular public television cooking show which debuted in 1963. American’s cooking and dining horizons were widened permanently by Julia Child.

Laurel’s Kitchen was first published in 1976, Laurel’s Kitchen was many a vegetarian’s first vegetarian cookbook. The cookbook, Laurel’s Kitchen: A Handbook for Vegetarian Cookery & Nutrition, contained advice on living the good life as well as plenty of vegetarian recipes. The cookbook contributed to the growing popularity of vegetarianism and sold more than a million copies.

The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen was published in 1978. Katzen was a founder of the Moosewood Restaurant, a vegetarian restaurant in Ithaca, New York. The Moosewood Cookbook became one of the most popular and influential vegetarian cookbooks. The cookbook, hand drawn and illustrated by Katzen, is a classic, beloved by many.

All of these cookbook classics predate today’s age of cooking shows, foodies, and celebrity chefs. Each contributed to our growing and evolving passion for food in all its variety. Each of these cookbooks deserve shelf space in your kitchen.