In our late 20s, my college girlfriends challenged each other to set 30 goals that we wanted to accomplish before turning thirty. Our "30 Before 30" lists ranged from professional to intensely personal and included everything from dream travel destinations, to following a budget, to taking advantage of cultural resources. Now at thirty, we could write an entire blog devoted to new experiences, what we learned about ourselves and each other, and how the 30 Before 30 nudged us to pursue the things we wanted (and to let go of those that we no longer valued).
One of my favorite 30 Before 30 goals was to cook at least a dozen recipes from each my cookbooks, which at that point included Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food, Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, and Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volumes I and II.
I'm not exaggerating when I say this process changed the way I cook. I started turning to my cookbooks first (instead of automatically looking recipes up online) and became familiar with how each author approaches food and cooking. Along the way, I got over my irrational fear of making French food, cultivated some favorite go-to dishes, and made pie crust recipes from all three sources. I also gained confidence and developed my own views on how I like to work in the kitchen.
Although I added The Art of Simple Food II midstream, an unintended consequence was trying not to acquire more cookbooks (which was hard for me). That moratorium ended on my 30th birthday, and I've since added Franklin Becker's Good Fat Cooking (also mentioned here), Ina Garten's Make it Ahead, and a few specialty cookbooks. I've also been handed down two cookbooks that had belonged to my grandmother: Marcella Hazan's Marcella's Italian Kitchen and Giuliano Bugialli's The Fine Art of Italian Cooking.
I'm looking forward to diving into each of my newer additions, but still plan to keep those original three in heavy rotation. Do you have any favorite cookbooks, and do you find yourself (like me) always willing to acquire a few more?