2005-11-01 - 5:41 a.m.

So...Theo's leaving. That's too bad. He's been fun to watch.

All this food talk of late has me thinking about cookbooks. I own a lot of them. Many are souveniers of visits I've made to other places: The Bermuda Tea book, the Milwaukee Junior League book, the Black Dog book from our post-wedding trip to the Vineyard (the one where I came home pregnant, having been stuck in MV during the biggest snowstorm since the Blizzard of '78), the Longaberger Entertaining book exclusively from the Homestead. Some of them I even cook out of, though a lot of them sit on my shelves and look pretty.

There are two that I find myself turning to over and over. The pages are becoming stained, the spines not quite straight. I assume this is the cookbook equivalent of the Velveteen Rabbit's "real."

The first is Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, which we jokingly refer to as the Vegetable Bible. Not just full of recipes, Deborah Matson has created a true encyclopedia of vegetables, with descriptions of taste, appearance, and cooking methods for pretty much any veggie you might want to find. It's a wonderful book, even if you see vegetables as side-dish material only.

The second, not surprisingly received as a wedding gift, is the Betty Crocker Cook Book, Bridal Edition. This is, for the most part, Betty's big red cookbook, but with the addition of a special section in the front aimed at the cook new-to-the-kitchen (which I was not), explaining how to adjust recipes to two people, how to plan a dinner party, and a host of other good information. The core cookbook is full of good-if-basic recipes. The part I use most, though, is at the beginning of each chapter. Need to know how long to cook a four pound pork roast? Betty can tell you. Need the best cut of meat for a pot roast? Ask Betty. Want to know what wine goes with what type of dinner? She's got it in there. Easy desserts for last-minute company? She's made a list.

I'd miss the others if they disappeared, but those two I'd throw myself onto the kitchen floor to save. And if you've ever seen a kitchen floor at the end of a day with a two-year-old, you know that can be a dangerous thing.


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