Before 2021, I didn’t have a cookbook problem. I didn’t even own very many cookbooks. However, in late January, I was diagnosed with a health condition with a 12-18 month recovery period, including significant diet restriction. That was tough news for someone who loves food as much as I do.
Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I made a deliberate decision. Just because I couldn’t use my palate to grow my kitchen skills didn’t mean I couldn’t strengthen my mind. I went to the library, check out a ridiculous number of cookbooks, and started reading. I also signed up for online classes and streamed TV shows. I threw myself into the world of professional food.
Since then, I’ve read 156 cookbooks, discovering quite a few favorites. This week, I’m sharing those favorites, starting with the best of the best! These are the cookbooks I go to first. The ones which never make it back to the shelf, because I’m always grabbing them. The ones whose recipes never fail to impress me and authors I respect tremendously. The ones I would – and did – gift to friends and family. The ones that I find useful, clever, helpful, beautiful, and worth your money. Of all 156 cookbooks I read in 2021, these are my overall favorites:
Author/cook Danielle Kartes at Rustic Joyful Food knows her stuff. She cooks, she writes recipes, she makes videos, she teaches classes, and her husband takes stunning food photography. And her food is delicious. She takes solid, dependable recipes and adds just a little special something that elevates it to a new level. Try any one of her three cookbooks – My Heart’s Table, Generations, or Meant to Share – or introduce your little one to cooking with her children’s book, My Very First Cookbook.
Strozzapreti in Gorgonzola and Pancetta Cream Sauce
Roasted Delicata Squash with Garlic and Feta
Strawberry Salad with Goat Cheese and Toasted Pecans
Apricot and Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies
Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest is gaining in popularity at breakneck speeds. Her sweet face is appearing in more and more stores, commercials, and TV shows. But there is a reason: her blog is chock-full of incredible recipes! I consider her two cookbooks – Half-Baked Harvest Cookbook and Super Simple – some of my most trustworthy, and I will blind-buy anything she publishes in the future. She knows flavors, and she comes up with delicious dishes on a regular basis.
Autumn Harvest Salad with pecans, persimmons, apples, bacon, pomegranate arils, blue cheese, and maple syrup
Garlic Butter Corn Salad
Apple Ricotta Pancakes with Bacon Butter
Bonfire Brownies with coffee, smoked almonds, pretzels, and marshmallows
If you haven’t become acquainted with Jill Winger at the Prairie Homestead, allow me to introduce you. Jill is a tried-and-true homesteader in Wyoming, teaching the rest of us how to become more self-sufficient. Her cookbook is excellent for the basic foundational recipes, like butter pie crust and bread. However, she also tosses in some incredible twists to old classics, like her Chicken Noodle Soup (hint: she adds turmeric!).
Maple Sage Breakfast Sausage
Sticky Honey Chicken
The Wyoming Burger
Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
Grilled Pear and Apple Salad
Apple Molasses Pie with Cheddar Crust