That being said, I do have a little bit of a standard as far as how I select my own cookbooks.I only spend money on a cookbook that I can learn something from –
like my Better Homes & Gardens Bread Book. It has a lot of great and easy recipes (although a little outdated – most of them still call for shortening in lieu of good ol’ butter), but it also explains the chemistry behind baking. It explains the different types of flours and why I would choose certain ingredients over others for certain recipes. Some have been surprised by my knowledge of how things work – it’s all really because I am just curious, and want to know why the things that I make work they way they do. Simple. I also buy for photos – I am a visual learner, and seeing the finished product or the process allows me to better imitate, which is why the Williams-Sonoma cookbooks are some of my favorites.
The real “moral” of this story is that I still suck at baking. I don’t know wtf is going on, but every yeast-leavened thing I have tried to make (aside from my successful and deadly cinnamon rolls) has looked great before it goes in the oven, then comes out out flat as a pancake, rock hard, and flavorless. I’ve pretty much given up on that. But I have stuck to my other resolution. I check my cookbooks before I head for good ol’ Google.
This is my latest exploit, from the aforementioned Bread Book:
Banana loaf, baked in my new-to-me bundt pant! Goodwill has also been my favorite place for “new” kitchen accessories – it’s amazing the amount of crap people have to give away, especially those things that they (or maybe it’s Goodwill and poor appraisal) may not know are more valuable than their new sticker price. I got a NordicWare bundt pan in great condition for $1.99. I just had to scrub a little rust from off the outside with steel wool. Unnnnnnbelievable. I also got a large metal prep bowl for $0.99, and a solid wood rolling pin for $0.49. Of course, credit for my savvy Goodwill salvage skill goes to my mom’s side of the family.
The bread tasted great except for how salty it was… I forgot that I was using salted butter, and put the called-for 3/4 tsp. salt in also… oops. The texture is near perfect, though!
I feel like it needs a caramel or chocolate glaze to balance out the salty… the REAL moral if this story is that everything could use a little chocolate.