The calendar has officially flipped to December, so it’s no surprise that it’s flipping freezing outside. (And I’m nowhere near Southern California – yet.) It is time to bust out those dusty inside hobbies: knitting, crocheting, scrapbooking – heaven forbid. My personal confined-to-the-house amusement? Baking. Just your standard oatmeal raisin cookies, some chocolate chip, maybe a pie here or there, nothing fancy. Be it as it may, baking isn’t practical. No one needs two dozen snickerdoodle cookies. Cooking, on the other hand, now that’s a useful hobby.

A few nights ago, Kirk and I were rolling the cart up and down the grocery store aisles. Sighing, mid-reach for a jar of Classico alfredo sauce, he said what was on both of our minds: “We need to learn how to cook new food.” That jar of alfredo sauce would be used to make our umpteenth dish of chicken alfredo pasta, no doubt. Our staples, including said pasta with pre-made sauce, ground turkey tacos and chicken sandwiches really need a break from our culinary repertoire. I resolved to buy a new cookbook.

At home, I made a mental list of what I’d like in a cookbook. Because I really like being able to see a photo of the finished recipes, the more photos, the better. Books with an emphasis on ‘quick and easy’ received extra brownie points. With these prerequisites in mind, I began scouring Amazon for the highest-rated books geared toward the cooking novice.

The following three books are top on my list of consideration:


While traveling abroad – where you expect no luxury whatsoever – I was oddly spoiled rotten with an unbelievably souped-up cable television package at my flat in Sydney.¬†With more American shows that I had even seen in America, I was able to watch Jamie Oliver on the Food Network. Immediately I was attracted to his unpretentious manner and straightforward style. I also liked how he took us along on his journey to gather ingredients from local shops. The book has the same “from the ground up” approach.


This book attracted me for a handful of reasons:

  • it has a stellar average 5 star rating on
  • it boasts quick “in a hurry” recipes
  • it “serves two” (Lauren + Kirk = 2)


I am intrigued by the 5 ingredient simplicity. Such a small amount of required ingredients should make for an equally small amount of required cooking skills, no? Probably terrible logic, but I’m sticking with it until I try the book.

These three books seem like they could do the job. But, I’d also like to hear about some tried and true favorites. Who has a cookbook they love? Please do share! ☼