Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Joy of Cooking and The Joy Kitchen

Last week I got an email notifying me about the Joy of Cooking and its new website, The Joy Kitchen. My mother used to have The Joy of Cooking and I used to consult it a lot in my early days of learning how to cook.

The Joy of Cooking is celebrating is 75th anniversary (in 2006, actually) and it is credited to Irma S. Rombauer (the original author), Marion Rombauer Becker (her daughter), and Ethan Becker (their grandson and son, respectively).
It is Ethan Becker who took care of this latest edition includes a note from Julia Child dated 2004, who was consulted as an authority for this revision and helped with the revisions. A letter from Ethan Becker dated 2006 explains all this and also tells about the sampling of the recipes, the work it took to bring this 75th anniversary edition to print, etc.
I do not have my mom's edition with me to compare, and I don't remember exactly what it included, but this edition has a lot of helpful information and ideas, including A History of the Joy of Cooking by Anne Mendelson. Apparently the first instruction that the original Joy included was to stand facing the stove and that's how Anne Mendelson named her book published in 2003. It is an appropriate addition to this edition of Joy.

The book also includes information about nutrition, and an explanation of the Nutrition Facts sticker and how to read food labels. I'm pretty sure this is something recent in the book, since the inclusion of food labels and nutrition facts is quite recent (definitely less than 75 years).
It also includes a heading about vegetarian diets. Too bad it says "in the United States, some vegetarians happily eat chicken, fish, eggs, and dairy products", ah well, people who eat chicken and fish are definitely not vegetarian, they may not eat red meat but they should not label themselves vegetarian. Too bad a misconception like this is included in such an important book.

There is a section about entertaining, including details that go beyond the menu, such as table decor, table setting, seating, etc. It also includes suggested menus for holidays, special occasions, 30 minute recipes, etc. All with recipes that can be found in the book. A suggested menu for a vegetarian event includes:
  • White bean dip with rosemary and garlic

  • Tuscan bread and tomato soup

  • Gazpacho

  • Mushroom barley soup

  • Wonton soup

There are, of course, lots of other recipes for vegetarian dishes throughout the book.

The beverages menu has section has a great explanation about coffee and different types of coffee pots, including recipes for different types of coffee beverages. The section also includes explanations for juices, punches, and other soft drinks. But, and this is what is super exciting, there is a section for wine and beer, and a section for cocktails and party drinks. No more fiddling around to find the perfect margarita or martini recipe, everything is clearly explained with measurements and everything.

This is the most complete cooking book you'll ever find, and what better than getting this new updated edition instead of going back to your mom's recipe books. It is published by Simon & Schuster and retails for $35 in the US and $39.99 in Canada. Definitely an investment worth making.

On a further note, I am proud to say that they spell "portobello" for the mushrooms, which is how I've been spelling it all along. And if such an authority in cooking spells it like that, I very well take it that such is the correct spelling.

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