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Best Basic Cookbook

Betty Crocker CookbookOne of the most-used gifts from our wedding in 1985 (read that: big hair and enormous sleeves) was our 1982 edition of the Betty Crocker Cookbook. The fact that neither of us is much good in the kitchen notwithstanding, this excellent collection of recipes and cooking tips has served us well over the past quarter of a decade. So well, in fact, that it is now a coverless, tattered shadow of its former self.

With the index in shreds (arguably the single most useful part of any cookbook), this past Christmas I asked for a replacement. My husband obliged me by providing me with two new cookbooks and my kids with one of their own.

When I opened my shiny new copy of the 2005 edition of the Betty Crocker Cookbook, my plan was to go through the old raggedy book and take out any recipes I use that aren’t included in the new one. I did that yesterday. I only found one. One. It’s the recipe for a Swedish tea ring that my mother (and now I) make for every Christmas morning.

True, the new book is missing some real meal-time gems, like jellied salmon mold, venison sauerbraten, and beet and horseradish mold. Yumm-o. Oh, and it only includes one method for making a lattice top pie crust, instead of four. (Yes, seriously, four: regular, diamond top, twisted top, and spiral top.) But it more than makes up for those shortcomings (!) with some excellent features:

  • Healthier recipes that reflect current food preferences and lifestyles
  • Full nutritional breakdowns of each recipe
  • Particular recipes tagged as: low-fat; fast; bread machine; slow cooker; and lighter.
  • Basic cooking tips and help
  • Binder format with tabbed category dividers

Of course, it’s hundreds of pages of recipes for real people with regular kitchens and grocery store ingredients and typical American tastes. The sections included are:

  • Getting Started
  • Appetizers & Beverages
  • Breads
  • Cakes & Pies
  • Casserole & Slow Cooker
  • Cookies & CAndies
  • Desserts
  • Eggs & Cheese
  • Fish & Shellfish
  • Grilling
  • Meats
  • Poultry
  • Rice, Grains, Beans & Pasta
  • Salads & Salad Dressing
  • Sauces, Seasonings & Accompaniments
  • Soups, Sandwiches & Pizza
  • Vegetables & Fruits
  • Vegetarian
  • 20 Minutes or Less

The sections on slow cookers and quick meals are especially appreciated in this house. Anything to make cooking less of an event and more of a means to an end (keeping the family from starving) helps!

I already love this great, basic cookbook. The old one won’t be missed.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Alison Moore Smith January 25, 2010, 3:09 pm

    Checkerboard? Isn’t that the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook? I could be wrong (I was only 11 in 1975), but it seems that BH&G branded that picnic tablecloth look.

    I also got a 1968 edition of the BH&G cookbook when we got married. Probably the same one you had, seems the didn’t update it for a long time. It was ring bound (my old BC cookbook wasn’t) so you could add featured recipe cutouts from the magazine. I had collected the recipes from my mom’s old mags since I was a kid. Can’t say I ever cooked any of those, but it sure made me feel grown up. 🙂

  • Harmony - New Green Gadget January 25, 2010, 2:18 pm

    I so relate to this blog post. I got my BC cookbook for a wedding gift in 1975. Although I have moved into a more vegetarian and healthy lifestyle, I still treasure my older version, the one with the checkerboard cover, and fondly turn the the brown pages stuck with old bread dough and cookie batter, and return to the old favorites for fun. I don’t think I am ready for the new version, yet. 🙂
    .-= Harmony – New Green Gadget´s last blog ..Comment Luv, Do Follow Blog and Top Commentators =-.

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