Cookbook Recs

The Cookbooks of Our Lives

Seattle Met staff serve up the recipe tomes they relish. This week: Betty C’s basics helps keep things balanced in the kitchen.

By Laura Dannen January 19, 2010

Not everybody cooks, but everybody has a cookbook: The one you hid from your mom so she wouldn’t make that dreaded carrotloaf for supper, the one your first live-in girlfriend bought you—then took back when she bailed on you for that jerky accountant at her office.
In this series,
Seattle Met staff share the cookbooks that have shaped their lives. This week: Arts Editor Laura Dannen on Betty Crocker and the importance of equal partnership in the kitchen.

I don’t cook. I mean, I do, to survive. Everyone has to know how to make pasta, grilled cheese, and soup to get through grad school. But I don’t cook for fun. I eat for fun all the time. Love eating. But I enjoy it much more when someone cooks it for me, like my fiancé. His perfectly crafted breakfast burrito is one of the reasons I’m marrying him (just one).

You know the old saying? It’s not “the way to a woman’s heart is through her stomach.” I don’t want my fiancé to resent me 30 years from now, realizing while cracking an egg on breakfast burrito #1,501 that I’ve never made him a breakfast burrito. That could be bad. So I’m tiptoeing into the kitchen with a copy of Betty Crocker’s Cooking Basics: Recipes and Tips to Cook with Confidence (2nd edition, $17).

There are 100 recipes for the “meals you most want to cook”—chicken enchiladas, pad thai, meatloaf, cheesy baked rigatoni—and every dish comes with a beautiful full-page photo. Not those intimidating, rose-petals-garnishing-the-steak photos, but actual “I could do that, and it looks delicious” photos. This isn’t Cooking for Dummies—I had that book in college, and it taught me how to microwave a potato. It’s one step up, like having your mom in the kitchen, pointing out when an avocado is ripe, then giving you an easy and tasty recipe for guacamole. Cooking Basics lives up to its name with other words of wisdom, including a list of essential equipment for your kitchen (great for a couple planning a registry), how to pick fresh fruits and vegetables, food safety tips, cooking techniques, how to make a Thanksgiving dinner, etc.

The best part about this book? It’s so accessible, my fiancé and I end up cooking together. We recommend the enchiladas.

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