The Ideal Cookbook

COOK CUTS AN APPLE by Grafphotogpaher Cook cuts an apple preparation dish
COOK CUTS AN APPLE by Grafphotogpaher Cook cuts an apple preparation dish | Source

Cookery books are very popular and there are many on the market. There are so many beautiful cookery books but the cookery book that I would really love to own is not available anywhere. It is not a glossy cookery book, with glorious colour photographs. It does not contain recipes requiring many exotic and hard to find ingredients. It does not contain recipes requiring the latest fad diet or fad ingredient. It is an altogether different cookery book to those currently available.

One grandmother enjoyed making preserves, her jams, conserves, pickles and chutneys were legendary. The other grandmother enjoyed cooking and was a thrifty and economical cook, always able to make tasty meals from few ingredients. My mother is a chef and passed her love for, and enthusiasm and pleasure in cookery to her children.

I learned to cook by watching and helping Mum, almost by osmosis rather than her actually teaching me to cook. I am a fair cook and enjoy cooking. Like many cooks, I had a huge cookery book collection, but some years ago realized that many cookery books were just decorating the bookshelves, and gave most of them away. The few remaining books contain recipes that I actually use. I would like, however, to have just one cookery book that would answer all my recipe needs.

The ideal cookery book would contain recipes without huge ingredient lists. Recipes with thirty odd ingredients are unsuited to everyday use and say more about the cookery writer showing off than good food. A good cook does not require many ingredients to make a tasty, nutritious, and enjoyable meal. Recipes should generally contain less than 10 ingredients, only very special, or celebration, dishes require any more. These recipes also would not claim that one must have this or that expensive ingredient, but would suggest alternatives.

It would have sections containing different recipe types. The ideal cookbook would contain thrifty and wartime recipes, as well as a few excellent celebration recipes, but it would contain far more. Dishes from other lands are interesting to cook and I enjoy Indian, Chinese, Malay and Indonesian cookery as well as European dishes. Therefore, my book would contain a world cookery section, with recipes from other lands. This special cookery book would also contain family recipes, from my own and other people’s families.

Baking is the most exacting skill in cookery. More than any other type of cookery it requires precise weighing and measuring of ingredients or the scientific reaction, or magic, that turns raw mixes into beautiful cakes, biscuits, or pastry items does not happen. I enjoy baking cakes, bread and biscuits (or cookies) and this dream cookery book would contain a baking section. The recipes within would be old and traditional recipes for bread, cakes, biscuits, and pastry items, the homely recipes that our great grandmothers and grandmothers knew and baked often.

Another section would contain bright colourful pages bearing fun recipes for adults and children to enjoy cooking together. The recipes would contain both words and cartoon instructions to inspire and encourage children’s learning about cooking, healthy eating, and real food.

This very special cookery book would also contain hints and tips about how other cooks have adapted recipes and solved problems. The book would also contain anecdotes about how a particular dish came about, stories about when it was served and about disasters with particular dishes. It would contain blank pages in the back of the book for each cook to leave his or her own recipes or notes for the book’s next user. The book's pages would contain wide margins and room to write by each recipe. Messages from past cooks to future cooks, giving confidence and reassurance that every cook, no matter how experienced, can have a cooking disaster.

The ideal cookery book would also contain basic cookery methods and easy recipes because this would be the cookery book that cooks would leave to young relatives. It would keep family recipes, cooking skill, and culture alive. This cookery book would appeal to cooks at any knowledge level.

This ideal cookery book would rescue cooking from food scientists, chemists, restaurant chefs and food companies and bring it back where it belongs, in the home with families. I will never find this extra-ordinary and special cookbook, because it is merely a reverie, a daydream. Perhaps one day someone will write this cookery book or perhaps a movement will begin to write this unique cookery book.

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