I always love to read those "man-on-the-street" columns in my local newspaper. It seems that frivolous questions rather than weighty ones inspire far livelier and intriguing responses. In the same spirit, I collar friends, relatives, and total strangers to ask them inconsequential questions on culinary matters.

Q: How many cookbooks do you own? What's the cookbook you use most often? What do you look for in a cookbook? What's your most recent acquisition? 

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Lorna: I probably have about twenty cookbooks including those ones church groups sell to raise money....the ones with recipes for things made with Jell-o pudding. I don't use any one cookbook most. You're talking to some who has a 3 x 5 recipe card box that never gets opened. I'm not the gourmet cook. I only want cookbooks that I will really use. I don't want to stray from what my family likes; I don't like criticism. My most recent cookbook? Better Homes and Gardens Light Family Favorites.

Susan: I have around thirty cookbooks. The ones I use most often are Back to Square One (by Joyce Goldstein) and The Art of Low-Calorie Cooking (by Sally Schneider). What I look for in a cookbook are interesting recipes that are well-presented and easy to follow. I do appreciate a book that is nice looking and well laid out (Susan is a graphic designer). The last cookbook I bought - about six months ago - was Everyday Cooking with Dean Ornish. I haven't used it yet. I got it in one of those "do-good-for-yourself" moods.

Kathleen: Maybe I have fifty cookbooks. I use about fifteen of them. The ones I use most often are the Silver Palate books -they're tried and true. I also use The Greens Cookbook (by Deborah Madison) a lot; that's always good. I'll get in moods - Indian, Thai - and use those cookbooks. My mom just gave me the San Franciso Chronicle Cookbook (ed. Michael Bauer). It looks good, kind of Silver Palate-ish, interesting ingredients. At this point, I look for cookbooks that are less meat oriented, that have easy to find ingredients. If I'm entertaining, I want make-ahead stuff. Day to day, I need things my kids will eat.


Better Homes and Gardens Light Family Favorites

Back to Square

The Art of Low-Calorie Cooking

Everyday Cooking with Dean Ornish

The Greens Cookbook

San Franciso Chronicle Cookbook

The Silver Palate Cookbook

The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook

are available for easy online purchase right now at Amazon.com. Click the links above for current prices.