THE COOKBOOK READER

First we eat, then we do everything else. - M.F.K. Fisher

"…soda breads or dairy breads as they were once called - presumably because of the buttermilk which often goes into them - are extraordinarily good and useful.  Everybody who cooks, in however limited a way, should know how to make a loaf of soda bread." - Elizabeth David, English Bread and Yeast Cookery

“There is a prevailing theory that we need to know much more than we do in order to feed ourselves well. It isn’t true. Most of us already have water, a pot to put it in, and a way to light a fire. This gives us boiling water, in which we can do more cooking than we know.”

—   Tamar Adler, An Everlasting Meal

“The aged, the delicate, and children should abstain from ices or iced beverages; even the strong and healthy should partake of them in moderation. They should be taken immediately after the repast, or some hours after, because the taking of these substances during the process of digestion is apt to provoke indisposition. It is necessary then, that this function should have scarcely commenced, or that it should be completely finished, before partaking of ices. It is also necessary to abstain from them when persons are very warm, or immediately after taking violent exercise, as in some cases they have produced illnesses which have ended fatally.”

—   Mrs. Beeton, The Campaign for Domestic Happiness
All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast. - John Gunther

“Wine takes us from the world, and coffee restores us to it again. In between, we eat.”

—   Adam Gopnik, The Table Comes First: Family, France and the Meaning of Food

“The smell of coffee cooking was a reason for growing up, because children were never allowed to have it and nothing haunted the nostrils all the way out to the barn aas did the aroma of boiling coffee.”

—   Edna Lewis, The Taste of Country Cooking

“A good dinner is of great importance to good talk. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”

—   Virginia Woolf
Holly Farrell, Cookbooks
oil and acrylic on masonite

“Was it the spirit of the season or a quiet celebration of dominant female power that led to the baked-ham recipe at the start of Martha Stewart’s Menus for Entertaining? It looks succulent in the accompanying photograph, and I have long yearned to make it, but three factors have restrained me. First, it serves sixteen, and I don’t know that many people who would be happy to munch ham at one another. Second, you need “one bunch chervil with flowers.” (That’s plain silly, if not quite as ridiculous as a recipe that I came across at the peak of nouvelle cuisine, in the 1980s - a recipe that demanded thirty-four chervil leaves.) Third, the ham must be baked for five and a half hours in a pan lined with fresh-cut grass. As in meadow. “Locate an area in advance with tender, young, organically grown grass that has not yet been cut,” our guide advises. “It is best to cut it very early in the morning while the dew is still evident.” I’m sorry, Martha, but it just won’t do. I have inspected the grass in my backyard, and I am not prepared to serve Baked Ham with Cat Whiff and Chopped Worms.”

—   Anthony Lane, Look Back in Hunger

“Nine of every ten persons say they love chocolate. The tenth lies.”

—   Brillat-Savarin

“Of all the great dishes which French regional cookery has produced the cassoulet is perhaps the most typical of true country food, the genuine, abundant, earthy, richly flavoured and patiently simmered dish of the ideal farmhouse kitchen. Hidden beneath a layer of creamy, golden-crusted haricot beans in a deep, wide earthen pot, the cassoulet contains garlicky pork sausages, smoked bacon, salt pork, a wing or leg of preserved goose, perhaps a piece of mutton, or a couple of pig’s feet, or half a duck, and some chunks of pork rind. The beans are tender, juicy, most but not mushy, aromatic smells of garlic and herbs escape from the pot as the cassoulet is brought smoking hot from the oven to the table.”

—   Elizabeth David, A Book of Mediterranean Food

“When you ackowledge, as you must, that there is no such thing as perfect food, ony the idea of it, then the real purpose of striving toward perfection becomes clear: to make people happy. That’s what cooking is all about.”

—   Thomas Keller, The French Laundry Cookbook

“Breakfast was about the best part of the day. There was an almost mysterious feeling about passing through the night and awakening to a new day. everyone greeted each other in the morning with gladness and a real sense of gratefulness to see the new day. If it was a particularly beautiful morning it was expressed in the grace. Spring would bring our first and just about only fish - shad. It would always be served for breakfast, soaked in salt water for an hour or so, rolled in sesoned cornmeal, and fried carefully in home-rendered lard with a slice of smoked shoulder for added flavor. There were crispy fried white potatoes, fried onions, batter bread, any food left over from supper, blackberry jelly, delicious hot coffee, and cocoa for the children. And perhaps if a neighbor dropped in, dandelion wine was added. With the morning feeling of the animals out of the way, breakfast was enjoyable and leisurely.”

—   Edna Lewis, The Taste of Country Cooking

“Just like becoming an expert in wine – you learn by drinking it, the best you can afford – you learn about great food by finding the best there is, whether simply or luxurious. The you savor it, analyze it, and discuss it with your companions, and you compare it with other experiences.”

—   Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking