Tuesday, November 12, 2013


I love cooking & baking.  And I love cookbooks.  I don't usually follow a recipe exactly as it's written, but I do like finding inspiration & new ideas in recipes.  As a teenager I first learned to cook & I did so from cookbooks.  So I've naturally turned to them over the years when I need new ideas.  Creativity is something I struggle with in most aspects of life, but recipes in a cookbook supply the much needed creativity for me.

There have been times in my past where I've ended up with too many cookbooks & found that I hadn't even made a single recipe in some of them.  So I've given a lot away & only kept the ones I REALLY REALLY like.  

As a teenager learning to cook I was a vegetarian.  I did have a vegetarian book that had some recipes in it, but mostly I cooked out of Italian cookbooks by Marcella Hazan (who recently passed away).  Since I was a vegetarian I had to modify most of the recipes, since they often had non-vegetarian ingredients used.  I think learning to cook like this was a good thing for me & has allowed me to modify most recipes, truly making it my own.

Last year or so I was a recipe tester for a vegan cookbook.  I have to admit it was HARD because I had to make the recipes EXACTLY as written, no deviating & making it my own.  But I did manage to test enough recipes to get my name in the book & a free copy of the book (& I think maybe my recipe blog? I can't remember now)

When I went gluten free I it fairly easy to cook food.  It wasn't all that different from cooking as a vegetarian--just omitting & changing what didn't fit.  However, I really do love to bake & gluten free baking is a whole other ball game I must say.  

So I did invest in a gluten free baking book.  It covered sweets & breads.  It's a great book, I recommend it highly--it is Gluten-Free Baking Classics by Annalise G. Roberts.  I found that baking gluten free could actually be really good.  And I quickly mastered baking my own bread.  

As time went on I did feel the need for more ideas, more sweet treat recipes.  At the same time I didn't want to end up with tons of cookbooks like I have sometimes in the past.  Somehow I ran across Kyra Bussanich & learned that she had been a 2 time winner of the TV show The Cupcake Wars.  And she had a cookbook, Sweet Cravings.  This book is all sweets baking, no breads.  And it has a wide variety, which is really nice, & the recipes are labeled Easy, Intermediate, & Advanced.  I have made several recipes from this book & I do recommend it highly.  

I was making my own bread for some time, but I knew it wasn't the best it could be.  It wasn't bad per se, but I had higher hopes & knew I needed to find some more info that would take me to the next level of gluten free bread baking.  As I glanced one day at the book shelf at my local health food store I spotted a book, The Gluten Free Gourmet Bakes Bread by Bette Hagman.  I bought it & it has really helped me to perfect my bread making skills.  In the past, as a gluten baker, I had always wanted to delve into the world of sourdough baking, but never got around to it.  I am now baking gluten free sourdough bread & loving it!  

So I do feel that those 3 book cover gluten free baking very well.  One is both sweet & savory baking, one is just sweet, & one is just savory.  However, I did purchase one more cookbook.  There was one aspect of cooking that I didn't feel confident in mastering on my own gluten free.  And that is Asian cuisine.  So I bought The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen by Laura B. Russell.  I do recommend it if you really want to cook Asian food gluten free.  It helps you to understand where gluten may be hiding in Asian cooking that you need to be aware of.  And it has a wide variety of recipes.  I do wish it had more basic, well known, Asian recipes.  It's a little fancy schmancy for my taste.  But it's still good for me to learn from & spring forward from since I really do love Asian food.  

I know that there are tons of recipes available online & I do sometimes use those.  I also used my birthday money to subscribe to 2 gluten free magazines & I will be using recipes from those as well.  But sometimes I still find a good old fashioned cookbook the best way to go.  Online the recipes are very hit & miss, some are great & some are awful.  They usually haven't been thoroughly tested like recipes in a cookbook have.  I sometimes worry that the younger generation will make them become obsolete, a thing of the past.  It is already very hard to buy cookbooks.  I want to look at them, flip through them, but there are very few in print at bookstores where you can look at them.  In fact, of the 4 I own I only bought one of them in a store where I was able to look at it.  The other 3 I had to purchase online.    

I am also still holding onto some of my old favorite gluten recipes & cookbooks.  Occasionally I think about throwing them out, but then I think about converting them to gluten free, especially some of the baking ones.  At some point I know I will get around to attempting that.  I am sure that I will get rid of some of them when I am ready to start trying to convert, but certainly not all of them.  

Long live the beloved cookbook!!

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