My current edition
The Fannie Farmer Cookbook

My all-time favorite cookbook is The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. My current edition is the 13th. By current, I mean the third copy I have used. To be honest, I have no idea what edition I started with.

As you can see in the adjacent picture, my current edition is in bad shape. I don’t blame the publisher even though all my copies have met similar endings. Instead, I believe the condition reflects the daily use.

To be honest, I don’t remember if my mom or my maternal grandmother gave me my first copy. I do know it was a wedding present. Since I have been married over 30 years and am on my third cookbook, I can say each one has lasted a decade.

Hopefully my book-lover/ bookseller cousin won’t disown me, but I see some books as tools to be used. This cookbook is in that category. As you can see in the pictures below, the front and back inside cover give quick reference tips. If you are like me and don’t have the metric system memorized, it includes these measurements as well. I also like the old-fashioned tips such as blanching to remove skin peels which are found in between the tables.

The first 50 pages are full of definitions and explanations of cooking terms and items found in the kitchen. At the end of the recipes are two short sections. The first contains sample menus for various meals. The second is a wonderful table which includes calorie count as well as cholesterol, fat, protein and carbohydrate count of various food ingredients.

In between are hundreds of recipes along with more how-to information. I really like and use the tips found at the beginning of each section of the cookbook. For example, the book contains a two page spread under the fish/shellfish section that helps identify the different types of seafood. This is carried out through the sections.

So if you can’t quite figure out the mystery fruit in the produce section, buy one and bring it home. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook will not only help identify but also give you tips and recipes to use. The editors also use illustrations on cuts of meat as well as in the bread making and preserve sections. While not as fancy as some of the cookbooks with full color photo spreads, I like the fact that the visual aids always pop up where you need extra help to picture the process.

Since home economics classes are seldom found in K-12 schools, this is a great book to give. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook is well written. The recipes work even for those without much cooking experience. I love this book and highly recommend it. This cookbook is on the list, even if I could only own ten books.

What cookbook is on your top ten list?


  1. Your paternal grandmother used the Joy of Cooking, and I was fortunate to get one of those for a wedding present. I am still on my first copy, albeit well-mended, after 49 years …. I attribute that to the fact that I do not cook as much as you do, not the quality of the publisher. However, my favorite part is the section on Know Your Ingredients … I am often out of the exact ingredient, so I am looking for a substitute or equivalent, or as you suggested, just trying to figure out the correct measurement. My bookmark (ribbon) is always on one of those pages. Your bookseller cousin would tell you that the loss of cookbook sales has really hurt the bookstores. Now, many of us look at the ingredients in our cupboard, type them into Google, and out comes a perfect recipe that uses all of those ingredients … sometimes including a video, which is helpful for novice cooks like myself. Can you still be a novice cook if you have survived for 70+ years. Love your blog. As an addendum, one of the descendants of Irma Rombauer (the author of Joy of Cooking) opened a winery in Napa Valley. The Rombauer Chardonnay is one of the best around, and their late harvest ‘JOY’ is fantastic.

  2. Beth:
    I believe I have a copy of Joy of Cooking so I will have to take a look at the content. My favorite German riesling is also called Joy, but I can only find it in Florida. Thanks for the comment and the shout out about the Chardonnay “Joy”, wines are great to cook with and a small glass while cooking is good too.

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