It’s the start of a new school year. Everyone is getting settled into their new routines. I for one have spent most of the past month eating out every day. In an effort to curb this bad habit I decided to check out some cookbooks and try to improve my skills in the kitchen. Now I’m sharing what I found with you all in hopes to inspire more people to become amateur chefs with me.
I broke down the list into four levels: Dorm Friendly, Beginner, Medium and Advanced, so you can check out the books that fit your experience level and what equipment you have at your disposal. There are hundreds of options beyond this including books for nearly every specific cuisine and type of cooking you can think of.
University of Michigan is also the owner of the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive. They have a ton of historic and contemporary cookbooks available to view in the Special Collections Research Center. They don’t just have cookbooks, but menus, calendars, manuals, fiction, and boxes full of ephemera you can explore for leisure or research purposes.
My final plug is that if there is a specific cookbook you want and can’t find in our catalog, try Interlibrary Loan to see if we can get it from another library. Now on to the recommendation list!
Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks - Written by a recent graduate who experimented with ingredients available in her dining hall to create different recipes. She shares her alternatives to the dining hall’s prepared meals in this cute, easy to read book. The recipes are max four steps long and factor in lack of supplies and cooking equipment.
PETA’s Vegan College Cookbook - The introduction provides some basic information about eating vegan and what replacements to use for meat, dairy and eggs. It contains very simple vegan recipes that only require having access to a microwave.
Beginner Level (access to stove and basic kitchen equipment required):
Starting Out: The Essential Guide to Cooking on Your Own - This book assumes you know nothing about a kitchen. It goes through proper care of kitchen equipment and how to purchase simple things, such as chicken. There are a lot of beginner level recipes to get you started with cooking.
The Quick and Easy College Cookbook - The recipes are between 2-5 steps and for the most part have short ingredient lists. I’d say it is a good beginner book for someone moving into an apartment for the first time.
The Healthy College Cookbook - Another book written by recent college graduates, well actually they were still in college when the first edition was written. The book has 300 recipes, most of which are extremely easy to take on. This book also expects little kitchen knowledge. Includes basic nutrition information for all of the recipes.
Student's Go Vegan Cookbook - A fairly short book that jumps straight into the 135 vegan recipes included.
The Hungry Student Cookbook - This book relies on some previous knowledge of cooking, getting into longer recipe lists and cook times. The ingredients are also a little more costly, but still all available in an Ann Arbor grocery store. The book itself is full of beautiful pictures, so if you know you’re way around a kitchen I would check this book out.
How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian - These literally have a little bit of everything. So much so that I found them kind of overwhelming. There are some super simple recipes included, but also quite a few with more complex recipe and instruction lists. It is on pretty much every list of best cookbooks, so keep that in mind when deciding if you want to check it out.
The Vegetable Butcher - This is not a traditional cookbook with just a long list of recipes. Instead she goes in depth on every vegetable you can think of and how to prepare it. There are photos included of her cleaning and cutting each vegetable, plus hints on what to pair it with and a few short recipes you can include it in.
Baking: From My Home to Yours - Pick up this book if you want all things dessert. Baking is inherently more complicated due to the chemistry involved, but the recipes are very detailed, so you can hopefully avoid mistakes.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking - Another book on every list of best cookbooks. Penned by Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle, and Julia Child in 1961, this two volume book focuses on mastering difficult cooking techniques rather than just feeding yourself.