This is my go to book when I am dealing with a new ingredient. While I rarely make any of the recipes exactly (OK I adapt the heck out of them), I reach for it almost daily when I forget how long to cook the butternut squash or what to pair with parsnips.
It's the cookbook I learned out of as a kid and the title "The All-Purpose Cookbook" is pretty much it. It's not fancy, and many of the recipes are very basic, but for everything there's some kind of entry and a bit of wisdom about how to approach the dish. Not all of the recipes are to my taste anymore.
I now hand out Bittman's How to Cook Everything to newlyweds or teens off to college, but this used to be my go-to book.
This is a basic cookbook that should be in everyone's library. I have a 1985 edition that is pretty torn up so my wife was kind enough to buy me the current version for Christmas. I was amazed and disappointed at the amount of sugar added to many recipies! Please, please!!! Are we not fat enough in this country? I returned the new copy and will take better care of my classic version. If you don't already have a copy of this book find it online or in a used book store, don't buy the current version.
"Joy" is a good basic guide that can get one started in the kitchen and I continue using it for ideas. As "KateS" suggests there is a lot of adapting that can be done and I often make changes to suite our tastes. For instance I make banana nut bread fairly often and I use brown sugar instead of white, double up on the pecans, use butter instead of shortening, increase the banana pulp by 1/4 - 1/2 cup and use 1T baking powder.
Everything I know about cooking, I taught myself or learned from TV. So this book as been like an encyclopedia for me. Every single time I have a question in the kitchen, this is the first place I go and usually the place where the answer is found.
When you can't call Mom, pick up this book!
Like Audrey, I also love this book for it's methodological information. I also use it to remind myself about things like how long shirred eggs are supposed to stay in a bain marie and various biscuit proportions (don't know why, but I never remember these things). When I first started to use the book, I found the way that several recipes build off of other recipes to be bit confusing. On a couple of occasions, I prepared grocery lists only to find I'd overlooked half of the recipe. I've since come around to the efficiency of this organization. It's my go-to cook book.
Growing up, my mother used her 1960s-era edition of Joy as a basic kitchen reference. I never noticed the incredible reliance on canned and frozen foods in it (e.g. canned cream of mushroom soup was the basis for many a sauce recipe...). When the updated new edition was published, circa 2000, I bought my own copy. What a transformation! Gone were the canned, frozen, etc. In came a multitude of "ethnic" and international recipes. Hurray! This still remains for me a basic utility tool, for when I forget how long to bake a sweet potato, for example, or need help in re-learning how to properly roast a chicken (which I used to do about once every five years, but the new Joy recipes, when combined judiciously, produce such a delectable bird that I am now roasting them several times a year). Joy also provides our family's staple Sunday-morning buttermilk pancake recipe. In short, it remains a classic and dependable resource for every kitchen.
This is my go-to bible when I'm not sure about something...I use it to check how long I'm supposed to cook wild rice for, or what the ingredients are in banana bread...it's my cooking Bible. On other's suggestions I've tried How to Cook Everything and just don't like it. I'm a Joy of Cooking girl. My parents used to own a deli back in the mid '70's, and this was their go-to book as well. Maybe it's something I was raised with, so it's like family. I can't say it actually has everything, but it's a great reference that is a staple on my cookbook shelf.
I'm clearly in a minority here, but I'm not really a fan of this book. Like others, I have used it as a go-to reference in the past for quick reminders about cooking times or prep steps for rarely used ingredients that I just couldn't remember exactly what to do with. I find, however, the reference function has totally and completely shifted to the internet for me - so my copy sits ingloriously in a box in the basement with other unloved cookbooks I really need to jettison...
This was my first cookbook and I read it from cover to cover, it is my cooking bible and although I dont use many of the recipes I always consult it before trying other recipes. I particularly like all the information on food and cooking methods.
I see that there is a new anniversary edition available.
I have a couple of old editions of Joy (and used to give, as wedding gifts, a pair of books: Joy of Cooking and Joy of Sex) and I still pull out occasional recipes from it and check to see how long to cook things. I haven't thought it useful enough for the way I cook now to update my collection, though.
This is a great reference book-it was my first "how to cook anything" book. Like how long do I cook a baked potato & at what temp? I have noticed there are recipes that show up on TV cooking shows-but I rarely cook from the book.But I may give it another look through & even try "Country Captain"! Maybe some of the recipes or ingredients need to be updated & a personal spin thrown in.
This was my very first cookbook. It is a great book to start with when learning to cook. I still reference this book on occasion. Whenever I need to reference cooking times or need to know how to clean/prepare some unusual vegetable/grain.
I received my first Joy of Cooking in 1973. Since I have been ordering and buying cookbooks since I was nine years old (I am now 61), there is none like it. Everything is perfect. I still buy other cookbooks, but I never cook anything from him. I just collect others and use Joy of Cooking. I bought my grandmother one when she was 8 years old and she loves it. Every cook need this cookbook
This is the older 1975 edition of Joy of Cooking which is quite different from the latest 2006 version. They both are on my bookshelf. Where else can you find recipes for squirrel, opossum, muskrat, and racoon? ;) I use the newer one more often now, but the Gingersnaps recipe is very good. It's fun to look at some of the older, truly classic, recipes in this book.
This is a wonderful cookbook that I rarely open any longer. When I first began cooking, I used it constantly as a reference, and many of my favorite cooks (my mom, my best friend) still turn to special recipes again and again. But other than a few cookie recipes, pancakes, and the fabulous macaroni and cheese recipe, that still rates at the top of my list of comfort food classics, its appeal has dimmed for me. That said, I am using an older edition of the book, so maybe some adaptations or updates are in order to renew its relevance in my kitchen.