Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ten Foody Books From My Own Kitchen Shelves For Reading in Bed or Elsewhere.

I'm a newly indoctrinated fan of BOOK RIOT, a website which features booky posts for those of us for whom reading books themselves just isn't enough - we must know what goes on in the world of books as well. Book Riot is definitely one of the best places to go for all things literary

This morning I happened upon a post titled, READING COOKBOOKS IN BED and I smiled - aha!

Why? Well, because I though I was the only one who did this. Reading cookbooks in bed, I mean. But also because I'd been working on a post outlining my favorite cookbooks - books that are on my kitchen bookshelves when they aren't being read in bed or elsewhere.

I do keep my cookbooks in the kitchen book case, but they don't, necessarily, remain there. I occasionally take one to bed with me for the same reasons that Jeff O'Neal talks about in his post. (I love his book suggestions too.)

But my own cookbooks are not as pristene as Jeff's. When I'm following a recipe in the kitchen, things tend to fly about.

I sorted through my cookbooks and other food related tomes and came up with a List of Ten. After all, November is the month when food suddenly (or not) becomes a primary concern. I think it's that 'gearing up for winter, gathering of the acorns' imperative. .


Ten Foody Books From My Own Kitchen Shelves:

1) The Italian Cooking Encyclopedia by Linda Frazier

This is my very favorite Italian cookbook, primarily because each recipe is accompanied by fabulous photos. It is simply a gorgeous book. The recipes aren't bad either. This is the authoritative guide to Italy's different regions and cuisines. If you, like me, love Italian food, then this book must be in your collection.

2) Mary Emmerling's American Country Cooking

Just exactly what it sounds like. Another gorgeous book devoted to food and the stylings of the table. There isn't a recipe in here you won't want to try, including barbecue. Designer and collector Mary Emmerling, traveled from Maine to California and in between, to put together this inspiring collection of menus, recipes and photos.

3) Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin

This is the sort of book you pick up, sit down with and before you know it, you've read the whole thing. Colwin's wonderful stories about food, life and the occasional recipe are just perfection.

4) More Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin

Colwin continues her joyful stories about food, writing and life. When I finished this book I went looking for more, and that's when I learned that Laurie Colwin had passed away. Untimely, to say the least.

Laurie Colwin

I was especially saddened because after reading these two books I'd felt as though I'd known her. I felt as if a friend had died. Luckily, she left these very special books behind for us.

5) A Proper Breakfast by Alexandra Parsons

Food and art - what could be better? Recipes for a perfect breakfast, from different regions of the world. The illustrations by Eve Safarewicz are absolutely exquisite. She details not only the food, but the tableware and linens. Just looking through this book makes me smile. It is such a special treat.

6) Tea by Tricia Foley

Designer Tricia Foley has fabulous taste as we all know, so when she turns her talents to the afternoon (or morning or evening) tea ceremony, the results are beatutiful. Tea indoors before a fireplace or on a sunny front porch or on a picnic in the country. All beautifully photographed with just the proper, often fanciful, accoutrements. A book to savor.

7) The Pleasures of Tea by the editors of Victoria Magazine

Victoria Magazine was, once upon a time, my monthly design comforter. I loved the photos, the stylings, the poetry and the general ambience. It really was my favorite magazine for many years.

At any rate, the cover of this book gives you an idea of what I loved about Victoria and continue to love about their books. This particular one has gorgeous comfy photos - tea for every occasion. Lovely stuff.

8) The New Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen

If you love vegetarian food and I do, then this is the book for you.  The recipes are terrific and mostly simple enough. The text of the book appears hand lettered and the charming drawings are anything but slick. Just a book devoted to fabulous and healthful vegetarian food.

9) Brunetti's Cookbook by Donna Leon, with recipes by Roberta Pianaro

A trip to Venice to eat the best Italy has to offer in the company of mystery author Donna Leon, creator of the Commissario Brunnetti mysteries. What could be better? And you don't even have to leave your own bed.

10) American Family Style - Decorating, Cooking, Gardening and Entertaining by Mary Randolph Carter

Yeah I keep this book in the kitchen for inspiration. Mary Randolph Carter is a designer/stylist  and guiding creative light at Ralph Lauren.

Mary's fabulous office and Mary's website.

Note: Woodcut illustration at the top of the post is by Mary Azarian.


  1. You need to stop this! I'm on a diet and you made me hungry just thinking about all the delicous recipes in these books! LOL

  2. I haven't read any of these! Thanks for all the suggestions--they look like lovely books. I frequently just read cookbooks and have several that I've never cooked from even though I've read them cover-to-cover. One that comes to mind is A Proper Tea, which must be part of the same series as A Proper Breakfast, which I never knew existed!

  3. If I ever read cookbooks, I´d probably also do so in bed rather than in the kitchen ;)
    Well, perhaps it would just make me hungry.

    Lovely cookbooks, especially Parsons & Safarewicz´s; as far as I know, the Danish ones are flat, stale and only profitable.

  4. Terri: Well, if you read these in bed then you MIGHT NOT actually get up and go to the kitchen for a snack. :)

  5. Lauren: Cookbooks seemed especially appropriate at this time of year. :)

    I'm glad you found something new and interesting in my post.

  6. djs: For me, if a cookbook isn't beautifully designed, I pass it by. :)

  7. Loved Laurie Colwin. Happy All the Time is one of my favorite books.

  8. Yvette: I wish I could come to your house for a meal with all those wonderful cookbooks to inspire you.

  9. Great food for thought...and for the tummy! I'm waiting for your next kitchen post — food in fiction. I can't recall a single book, mystery or otherwise, where food "nourishes" the reader of the tale. That would be an interesting compilation as well. By the way, Bookriot was, well, a riot! Thanks for the tip.

  10. I'll have to check that one out, Patti. She was really a wonderful person and writer.

  11. Thanks, Bill, but I'm afraid most of these books are more for reading than for cooking these days. :)

    Still, they're fun to look through even if it's all wishful thinking.

    YOu can always dream about the perfect meal.

  12. Prashant: There's plenty of food 'nourishment' in the Nero Wolfe books since he is such a gourmand - with a live-in cook. :)

    I'll think of a few more suggestions and do a post at some point. Thanks for the suggestion.

  13. Oh, I so love Laurie C. I've written about her a few times on the olde blogge. If you want you could click on the authors tab and scroll down to her name.

    You might be interested in joining the Foodies Reading Challenge if Margot offers it again next year. I found it great fun. More about this year's here:

  14. Oh, and I have the Mary Azarian poster hanging on the bedroom wall!!

  15. Nan: Foodies Reading Challenge....hmmm. Sounds delicious. :)

    Many thanks for the source on the woodcut, I didn't recognize the artist.

  16. There's food nourishment in the Guido Brunetti series by Donna Leon, and in the Salvo Montalbano books by Andrea Camilleri.

    Italian detectives sure love to eat, sip wine, eat pasta and drink espresso at any time of the day or night.

    Montalbano is always -- even in the middle of a harrowing case -- thinking about a past meal, eating or contemplating his next meal, the local trattoria and what's in his refrigerator. His life revolves around a few points, food being one of them.

    Thee cookbooks look wonderful, all of them. The covers are sublime.

    And I must look up Mary Randolph Carter -- what a sense of style!

  17. Kathy: Mary Randolph Carter is one of my style icons. She has several books out - I own several. She's wonderful.

    I enjoyed reading about the food in the Donna Leon books. These are dangerous books to read when you're hungry. :)

  18. Dangerous books to read when you're hungry, especially if you have ingredients and you can cook!

    I meant to say that several friends and relatives swear by the Moosewood Cookbook. I used to hear it cited all of the time.

    Oh, were that I to cook, a new world of books would open up. But then I'd have to diet all of the time!

    But the books are lovely to look at.

  19. The books and comments about Laurie Colwin set me to thinking and reading about her.

    Here is a very nice article about her which I came across,

  20. Kathy: Thanks for the tip on the Washington Post article. :)

    Those Laurie Colwin books are a must read.

    I don't do a lot of cooking anymore. But I still enjoy looking at and reading foody books.

  21. Yvette, this has to be one of my most favorite posts of yours among all your wonderful posts! I am drooling over your descriptions of each and every cookbook. Except for Moosewood and Victoris Tea, they are all new to me and I am now very tempted to buy a few.

    I am especially intrigued by the books written by Laurie Colwin. I hope to find those in my local library.

    I love to cook ...and eat reading and collecting cookbooks has been a pleasure over the years. It's so nice to add a few more to my "wish list"!
    Thanks for the "Book Riot" link, too, as I know I will ahve fun exploring that site

  22. Thanks so much, Pat. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it and were tempted to add another foody book to your kitchen. :)

    I have to say, these are wonderful books to add to your own collection.

  23. I stopped reading cookbooks in bed because afterwards I tended to wake up hungry in the middle of the night and raid the refrigerator - usually attacking the lunch I had packed for work the next day. Now I read them in the living room before dinner.

  24. Ha! Sounds like a good plan. :)


Your comment will appear after I take a look.