Home & Leisure

Everyday Cheapskate: The People You Meet, the Books You Read

Mary Hunt on

The late humorist and master of salesmanship, Charlie "Tremendous" Jones, said one of my favorite quotes of all time: "You are the same today that you are going to be in five years from now except for two things: the people with whom you associate and the books you read."

While he didn't specify, I'm nearly certain Jones was talking about cookbooks. Reading cookbooks has changed me. Not only have they made me a better cook, learning how to do it and falling in love with the activity has impacted our household finances.

Little by little, as I became a better cook, we naturally began to eat at home more. Even now, the more I read, the more I cook; the more I cook the better a cook I become and the more often we eat at home. It's a beautiful thing!

The hubs and I have reached the point that eating out has become more of a "Do we have to?!" than a "We get to." We eat at home, gladly, at least 99% of the time.

Today, I want to tell you about my current four favorite cookbooks (the lineup does change from time to time) and suggest a way that you could use any one of these fabulous cookbooks as the central item in a gift basket that you create for an aspiring home cook. I guarantee that a cookbook -- plus several items to go with the theme of that particular book -- will delight any home cook, from novice to advanced. What makes me so sure? Because I know how happy I'd be to receive any one of these gift baskets for any occasion.



"Everyone is Italian on Sunday," by Rachael Ray (Atria Books, 2015). This brand-new cookbook currently sits at the top of my list of favorites. The recipes I've tried in the past three weeks have all turned out so well, I'm pretty sure that soon I'll be speaking with an Italian accent. At nearly 400 pages, this oversized book contains hundreds more of what appear to be fantastic recipes. I can't wait to test them. This cookbook has all the earmarks of a great gift. It's beautiful, quite hefty and written in an engaging, fun style. $26.

Additions to this gift basket could be a salad set of a bowl, vinegar cruet and oil dispenser. A garlic press that crushes fresh garlic would be a great addition along with a bottle of good extra virgin olive oil. Finish your Italian gift basket with a set of beautiful pasta bowls.


"How to Cook Without a Book," by Pam Anderson (Broadway Books, 2000). You know how much I love "Chopped," the Food Channel show, right? This book is helping to build my confidence in looking at a pile of ingredients and figuring out what to do with them, without a specific recipe. Would you believe I now know how to make Pad Thai sauce by heart? I do, and so much more! I just adore this book and study it all the time. So don't ask to borrow it. You need your own copy!


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