I love cookbooks, and I have entirely too many of them. There are cookbooks that are like travelogues, cookbooks that inspire, cookbooks that educate. There are cookbooks full of food porn. I've got all of these and more.
Then there are cookbooks I actually use. I only have a few of these.
My favorite is Jeanne Lemlin's classic Quick Vegetarian Pleasures
. Bought used more than ten years ago from City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, it was my first cookbook of married, domesticated life. It got wide use not only because of the thrift of its ingredients and the ease with which they're combined. Mostly we used it three or four times a week because just about everything in it turns out delicious.
Our all-time favorite: Vegetable cous-cous.
The easiest, tastiest dish you'll ever make for potlucks or easy dinners. The vegetarian lasagna is legendary in my circle. The braised fennel. Grated zucchini saute. It all works. It's all tasty. None of it is complicated.
Published in 1992, this volume was awarded the James Beard Cookbook of the Year award. And little wonder. Lemlin's book is one of those little gems of an everyday cookbook.