"Julia", or, cooking for beginners?


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"Julia", or, cooking for beginners?

Jul 22, 2022, 6:54 am

Hello! I've started watching "Julia", a HBO (Max originals) TV series yesterday, purely out of boredom---and started wondering about the cookbooks for beginners. So, the question is: do you happen to know about, or collect, cookbooks that don't necessarily explain many fancy dishes, but tend to concentrate on simple/basic skills perfect for when one wants to begin ones journey with cooking? Are there any "must-have"s in your country that almost every household has/had?

(For those who---like me, a girl form Central Europe---didn't know, "Julia" is a TV series about Julia Child, a first (?) TV chef, starting her cooking programme in the early 60s after promoting her first cookbook with French cuisine.)

Jul 22, 2022, 8:20 am

I bought a cookbook for college students when I started to cook- it explained very basic skills that I was embarrassed to ask others to explain. The Starving Students" Cookbook by Dede Hall. The cookbook also had illustrations on the right pot or dish to use.
I found that some cookbooks have great instructions- others-not so great.If you can,
I would advise sitting down in a bookstore and reading through some of the recipes to see if you are comfortable following the directions.
My favourites- any book by Claudia Roden. I also like Michael Smith, Nigella Lawson-(her instructions on making meringues is the best), Ina Garten- I like her Cook Like a Pro, Jamie Oliver and Deb Perelman
Deb Perleman's two cookbooks are great- check out her website "Smitten Kitchen". You can try one of her recipes and see if you like the instructions.
In fact most of the chefs have websites so you can try out some of their recipes and see if you also like their tips on cooking.
I hope this helps!

Jul 22, 2022, 9:36 am

Thank you! ("The Starving Students' Cookbook" sounds like a perfect cookbook for me and my peers, though---something that should be advised in a first-year-at-uni leaflets!)

Actually, reading through the recipes in the bookstore is a fabulous idea (and so simple!); thank you for this advice, I shall use it next time.

On the topic of "must-have's" in every kitchen: I'm interested whether in your homes and countries actual cookbooks were more popular than self-made ones, i.e. writing down recipes from your friends and family in a thick notebook (also filled with scraps of paper nobody ever bothers to write down properly), basically a creative chaos?

My family (Poland) has had some cookbooks, I believe I could even find them, but most of the time my grandmother and my mother use(d) recipes written down in a notebook (always with a note from whom was the recipe borrowed). As a child, I would make a table of contents after writing the numbers of pages down, and insist on writing down or glueing in the scraps of paper that were loose (and no one ever knew what's on them).

Jul 22, 2022, 7:44 pm

>3 zuzaer: My grandmothers and mom had a recipe file box of handwritten recipes, and those were the go- to favorites. Recipes from family, friends and neighbors. They also used cookbooks which represented their special interests. My grandmother in health food, my mom in Mexican food. They also had at least one basic cookbook like Joy of Cooking, or Betty Crocker.

Jul 23, 2022, 5:29 am

>1 zuzaer: Two for your bookshelf, though both are likely to be "special order only" in Poland; they have been freely available "since always" and reprinted a gazillion times here in South Africa. All Afrikaans girls get a copy of the Afrikaans original of Cook and enjoy it by S.J.A. de Villiers in or before their teens -- the English version is also a best seller. It describes hearty, unpretentious Boerekos (farmers' food, literally, or traditional rural cooking, in a more accurate translation). Every Indian bride in Durban has a copy of Indian Delights by Zuleikha Mayat. The list of ingredients for each recipe looks terrifyingly long (Don't panic!) but the techniques are basic. A bit of practice with this one and you'll be turning out the best curries in Poland, almost in your sleep.

Jul 24, 2022, 6:17 am

>4 MrsLee: a recipe file box sounds like a great idea, very neat and gives you access to everything needed!

>5 hfglen: thank you---I wouldn't hope to find them in a local bookstore, but it would be probably worth it to try and order them sometime in the future. I have an 'aunt' that loves cooking in a slightly unconventional way; every time she invites us to dinner there's something new and quite original. I can only imagine her face if I were to present something out of your recommendations!

I think it's nice that there are cookbooks so well-known that every household owns them. Of course, they may contain the basics on which one can experiment, but I think it gives you a sense of community (and a delicate way to compete over who does the best X in the neighbourhood...).

Jul 24, 2022, 9:06 am

I have also seen on line you tube or websites where there are videos showing the preparation of different recipes

Jul 25, 2022, 4:01 am

>6 zuzaer: In that case, two (or three) more for your wishlist; you should be able to order them from Penguin Books in Poland or PenguinRandomStruik in South Africa. There are two relatively simple books, Evita's Kossie Sikelela and Evita's Bossie Sikelela -- if you detect awful puns in most of our 11 official languages you are quite right -- by "Evita Bezuidenhout", our version of Australia's Dame Edna Everage, in other words the alter ego of Pieter-Dirk Uys. The other is My Cape Malay Kitchen by Cariema Isaacs. It sounds as if your 'aunt' would love Cape Malay food (think mild but infinitely tasty curries)!

Editado: Jul 25, 2022, 4:25 am

Three worth mentioning from the UK:
Cooking in a bedsitter by Katherine Whitehorn. A guide for the newly independent young woman with hardly any equipment and one gas ring.
The Pauper’s Cookbook by Jocasta Innes. Lots of basic recipes.
Delia’s How to Cook by Delia Smith. Three volumes of basic techniques and recipes. Straightforward and comprehensive. Delia Smith was probably the most influential TV cook in her heyday.

Jul 25, 2022, 4:52 am

>8 hfglen: mild sounds great to me, and the rest is just fantastic---I know next to nothing about Cape Malay and other communities, but it sounds like a good opportunity to get to know another region of the world!

>9 abbottthomas: thank you, I'll definitely check those books, Delia Smith's approach sounds really good to me.

Jul 25, 2022, 5:14 am

Delia's recipes are well written, easy to follow, and produce reliable results. One is fun is from the 1980's but is designed to give easy meals for one or two. She is still active (with help) on https://www.deliaonline.com/

For what it's worth, she and her husband are majority shareholders in Norwich City FC (Football Club).

Jul 25, 2022, 5:33 am

>1 zuzaer: For my country (France), I can't think of a cookbook covering "very basic" basics that everyone has, but there are a couple of reference cookbooks that most people have on their shelves:
- Je sais cuisiner (I know how to cook) by Ginette Mathiot - first edition written in the thirties by a food tech teacher. It's quite didactic and comprehensive (think Mrs Beeton), although it skews towards the Northern half of France, and is clearly written by someone who sees Southern French cooking (Provence, etc.) as exotic. And all vegetables are cooked (boiled, usually) to death. I have the copy I was given in my twenties as well as my mother's copy. My grandmother also had one, but I don't know where it's gone. Changes were introduced in each version. For example, older versions were addressed to housewives, whereas the nineties version I own is written more neutrally;
- La cuisine de Tante Marie (Tante Marie's French kitchen) - my favourite! An old-fashioned cookbook where recipes are kept to a few lines and quantities are left to the cook's imagination. I have my grandmother's copy, which must have been published in the twenties or thirties, and used to be her aunt's. I realised when I read it that a number of family recipes I was taught by my mother and grandmother were actually Tante Marie recipes.

I was given Toutes les bases et les recettes de la bonne cuisine by Amélie Bar as a teenager. That was a very good step-by-step, foolproof and comprehensive cookbook, if a bit on the uninspiring side. It also contained nutrition advice. I remember the recipe for choux pastry included a tip about listening for the noise it makes when you beat it. However, I don't think it counts as a reference book that everyone has.

More recently, Le grand cours de cuisine FERRANDI became a bestseller. It's a huge doorstop of a book, with illustrated step-by-step how-tos for all the basic French cuisine techniques, but it's geared towards Haute Cuisine and it's very faffy - it's for people who want to cook like chefs.

Jul 25, 2022, 7:40 am

>12 Dilara86: Thank you! That was very informative. It's inspiring to see that a few generations of women used the same cookbook.