Best book for Amateur.

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I'm a college male. Looking to get more cooking experience. I try to eat healthyish and stay away from much prepackaged foods. But I eat too simple and too redundantly. Chicken, rice, frozen veggies, cous cous, pasta, tacos.
So anyways I'm looking for an easy, basic, cookbook with plenty of recipes that don't take a long time to work on.

My mom just checked one out from the library called Rocco's Real Life Recipes:Fast Flavor For Everyday> It's actually just what I want. But I'm an elitist and must check to see if there are any other (maybe better) suggestions. AND I'm not sure if I can get it from my university library when I get off Christmas break.

Suggestions?
 
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There is another good cookbook for learning basic techniques and methods entitled :

"How To Cook Everything" by Mark Bittman. If you scroll up this page you will see a link saying JUMP to Amazon , Amazon carries Rocco's books and so many other interesting cookbooks for those getting an intro to cooking....

a thought.
 

phatch

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Joy of Cooking is better I think. I thought the Bittman book was awful. And pretty much the rest of his too.
 

pete

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I fully agree with "Joy of Cooking." It is a great book with a huge variety of recipes. An important book in any collection, especially a small one for a beginning cook. It's hard to recommend any other books as we don't know what you like. There are great cookbooks for simple foods within every cuisine. What interests you?
 
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Yeah I saw a lot of references to the Joy of Cooking in the Essential book thread.
I don't really have particular favorites or interests =0
I was really picky when I was young but now I can go for anything and dig trying new things. And if I don't like something I just eat it and intellectualize myself to try and acquire the taste.
 
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Joy of Cooking is hard to beat for almost anything you'd ever want to cook. Try to find a 1960's edition in a used book store. I think its better than the current revised edition.

doc
 
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I'll cast a vote for "How to cook everything" by Mark Bittman, it's a great beginner book with some great recipes, easy language to understand and clear directions. You won't win Iron Chef with any of the recipes but it will get you started in the right direction.
 
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 i'm also a student, and i understand the desire for less redundancy (i used to...er sometimes still...eat a lot of bean and cheese burritos at home...).  i like a book by dave lieberman called "young and hungry" (link here).  it has quick, easy recipes (i think he developed a lot of these as a student himself), plus they're super tasty (loved, in particular, his mussels in white wine and tomato sauce!).  even easy for novice cooks like myself. highly recommended!
 
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My favorite is still my textbook On Cooking Its a great book despite its high price tag it is worth it.
 
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Joy of cooking and Fannie Farmer Cookbook , No fads, gimmicks or craziness just good old basic down home cooking whick everyone should start with. Both have been revised over the years.
 
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ZJ:

Although I do not agree with her prep techniques, look for any of Rachael Ray's cookbooks; she is the "30-minute cook" on the Food Network.  Shop for locally-grown or organic ingredients and you should be OK: good food in a blink of the eye.

W.
 
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I love Mark Bittman - I have How to Cook Everything, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and Best Recipes int he world - all are wondeful! If I could only have one it'd probably be the basic HTCE, though vegetarian is a close second, for sure! I picked up Joy of Cooking a while back at the goodwill.. honestly, its OK, but I much, much prefer bittman... his recipes are just, IMO, much more accesible and interesting. Joy of Cooking reminds me too much of the kind of food that my dad and husbands family make, which I mostly don't much care for. :shrug

I've also just picked up Bon Appetit's cookbooks over the past few months and I have to say I'm in LOVE! I got myself the basic for xmas, and just bought fast easy fresh for my birthday for myself :p Its turning into my new favorite cookbook - I've made 4 things in the past week and everythings been great so far. And there all (thus far at least!) both very fast and very easy and very good! 
 
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phatch

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You usually love what you started with. I started with Jeff Smith's books and love them. I came to Bittman after I'd been cooking other more detailed dishes (like Smith's) and found them dumbed down and simplified too much to have their best flavor. Yes, he'll walk you through the recipe but he doesn't provide enough information for you to build on it in my opinion. You need to go elsewhere to really learn how, why and what.
 
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Mark Bittman's book should be re-titled "How to Cook Everything and Make It Bland" 

Elitist?  You're my kind of guy, therefore try these:

Get LaVarenne Pratique by Anne Willan and the LaVarenne Cooking Course by the same author.  You'll learn solid technique in these books, though she doesn't walk you through how to make tacos or best Dagwood sandwich on the planet. 
 
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