Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cookbooks... the gateway to Martha Stewart Obsession

I never thought I'd be the type to get excited about a cookbook. Everyday Italian by Giada de Laurentiis was the cookbook that changed me. It was arty looking and filled with Italian food, and the very thought of cooking the recipes in it I felt would guarantee the transformation from sad-maker-of-ground-beef-and-canned-soup-casseroles to a bona fide sophisticated house-frau. 

I still love that book, and a few of her others.

What one does not realize when they begin a flirtation with cooking, is that all roads eventually lead to Martha Stewart. You may disagree with this, but Martha is pretty much everywhere, and her stamp is on things you don't even realize. 

I never expected to have any interest in Martha Stewart, considering my opinion of her as an uppity ex-con portrayed by Cybill Shepard in a terrible TV movie (which I watched), was less than appealing.  I started getting Everyday Food magazine in the mail by accident (it was meant as a gift but I redeemed a free subscription from some points program that didn't really understand the concept of a gift subscription), thinking it would be full of high concept dishes with long lists of ingredients using things like saffron or clams.

Oh, how I was wrong!

The recipes are simple, use minimal processed foods, and actually taste good. Plus, it's aesthetically pleasing. The photos are lovely. You not only want to eat the food, you want to invest in putting it together.

I now devour each new issue of Everyday Food, marking the pages of recipes I have to try. If I have the ingredients on hand, I'll make one of them that day. Otherwise, I make a shopping list from several recipes and buy what I need, then cook all week. And I like it. There is helpful general cooking information, too. Martha has taught me how to sharpen knives, how to cut a butternut squash, how to even approach using eggplant in anything.

Martha, what have you done to me?

So, good 'ole Martha has a new book out: Martha Stewart's New Pies and Tarts: 150 Recipes for Old-Fashioned and Modern Favorites. I have made probably one pie in my entire life, so most likely I won't buy this book. I'll at least look through it at the bookstore and imagine myself at a rustic table in a New England farmhouse where a slice of cherry pie has been lovingly made for me. By someone else!

What are your favorite cookbooks?

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