Friday, April 30, 2010

Cookbook review: Salty Sweets

My cooking is reverting back to the basics for the next couple of weeks. I'm busy thinking about the wedding and my pantry is largely bare, so my brain power is being diverted elsewhere. Plus, it's not like you really want my 900th variation on bean soup. I myself don't want my 900th variation on bean soup. I swear if I don't get some gourmet cheese in me soon, I may die.

And you all think I'm an alcoholic, from all the wine reviews I've been posting on here lately, so I'm taking a different tactic and telling you all about my favorite cookbooks.

At its base, cooking is just following directions. That's it. You can follow directions, can't you? I admit that it's often intimidating to just go into your kitchen and start banging things around. It's tough to admit you can't do something. But hey, that's what life is. Learning to do new things. My most egregiously burnt cooking mistakes still tasted better than Healthy Choice microwave dinners.

Part one of learning how to cook is to get a good cookbook and start making things out it. I'm at the point now where I buy cookbooks for sheer inspiration. It's less about needing an actual recipe and more about needing new ideas.

The gold standard of cookbooks is, of course, Joy of Cooking ($23.10 at Amazon). If you only ever own one cookbook, it should be this one. I'm already on my second copy--the first one fell apart from too much use. I may very well be onto my third soon, because the second is looking pretty shabby, as well. The binding's coming apart, half the pages are warped from various spills, and flour sifts out every time I open it. That's how you know it's a good cookbook.

Salty Sweets is my newest addition to the collection, a small book of dessert recipes with a healthy dose of salt. $13.57 at Amazon. Those of you who know me, know my sweet tooth has gradually faded into almost nothing and been replaced with a ravenous salt tooth. (Don't confuse salt with sodium--sodium comes from pre-packaged convenience foods, chock-full of sodium and preservatives and chemicalized fat. If your doctor tells you to cut out the salt, he's talking about sodium. He means quit eating so much junk food. Salt, real salt, the kind you use in home cooking, is a negligable amount and does not need to be avoided. Also it tastes better.) These are my kind of desserts--pecan praline, salty caramels, peanut butter cookies. Not too sweet, not too salty--they're just right.

There's already a caramel spill sticking some of the pages together.

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