I can recall a time in my early childhood where my mother admonished me to learn how to cook. “Women love a man who knows his way about a kitchen,” she would tell me, and to a six or seven year old obsessed with rom-coms and romanticism, it seemed like a good idea. Enter the Better Homes and Gardens “New Cookbook” written by the Meredith Corporation. Between this book and my mother’s tutelage, I’d like to think I’m no stranger to a stove and skillet. Now at first glance, this cookbook might not seem like much. If you left it on a stereotypically covered picnic table, you might forget it. However, this cookbook goes over everything you need to know about the practice of cooking.
The “New Cookbook” is set up such that the recipes in the beginning are less complex and teach the basic processes associated with the recipes. For example, in the breads section, which is the third section from the beginning, goes over some properties of yeast breads and then shows step-by-step how to knead bread. Sprinkled throughout the chapters are small tips and tricks that you can use to make your baking or cooking cleaner, faster, or easier. Within the meats section you can find a recommendation to marinate in a plastic bag to avoid a mess or to use a folding motion when stir frying to ensure all sides are cooked evenly. The sauces section advises using a can of condensed soup with a few additives to substitute in for a full homemade sauce. Not to mention that more often than not, these tricks help to make the recipes even tastier.
One of my personal favorite recipes is Pepper-Lime Chicken. Most of us have heard of Lemon-Pepper Chicken, and while this recipe is similar, it is much more flavorful. The sweeter, smoother flavor of the lime as well as the addition of some dried thyme makes for an overall tangier and more fulfilling meal. Couple this with some grilled asparagus and a baked potato and you’ve got yourself a scrumptious meal.
What I really love about this book is that it taught me the basics behind every kind of cooking and baking, and made it much easier for me to read and make other recipes from other sources. Just like my mother, I would recommend this cookbook to anyone who has never cooked before, and might be thinking about impressing a future (or present) significant other, or maybe would just like to know how to make their own meals. It will serve as the backbone to all that you could wish to know in the world of cooking and preparing food and it just might get you a girlfriend too.