I'm almost 30 and just coming into my own as a home cook, so I imagine this list will change over time:
The Joy of Cooking (for basics)
The French Chef Cookbook by Julia Child (for cold winter nights)
Cook This Now by Melissa Clark (for every day inspiration)
How to Eat by Nigella Lawson (for reminders of why I got excited about food in the first place)
Williams-Sonoma Grill Master by Fred Thompson (for ideas on how to grill everything)
I have been cooking for more years than your age, and I think this is a GREAT list. The French Chef Cookbook is my favorite Julia book (and I like and own them all), and How to Eat is in my top five. I prefer The Fannie Farmer Cookbook (and I like the Twelfth Edition) to Joy, but that's it.
Bon Appétit Desserts, Baking for All Occasions, Nigella Kitchen, The Cook's Companion (S. Alexander), The Perfect Scoop.
How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
Kitchen Express by Mark Bittman
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine
and the hand-compiled recipe book of my nana's, mother's, and aunts' recipes. :)
Someone has a crush on Mark Bittman's writing, I believe! ;-)
Joy of Cooking - circa 1956, Marcus Sameulsson - the New American Table, Ina Garten - Barefoot Contessa Parties, Suzanne Goin - Sunday Suppers at Lucques, Tide and Thyme - Junior League of Annapolis
Fun question -- I think I have at least 200 cookbooks, but the ones that I love the most and that inspire my cooking on a regular basis are:
Lidia's Family Table by Lidia Bastianich
The Zuni Cafe by Judy Rodgers
Adhoc at Home by Thomas Keller
NY Times Essential Cookbook by Amanda
Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce
I find myself turning to instructional books rather than recipe books more often, but here are my top 5 go-to books:
Bread Baker's Apprentice (Peter Reinhart)
The Professional Chef
Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Marcella Hazan)
Food Lover's Companion
The New York Times Essential Cookbook - Amanda Hesser
The French Chef - Julia Child
Le Cordon Bleu Complete Cooking Techniques
The Art of Mexican Cooking - Diana Kennedy
How to Cook Everything - Mark Bittman
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Japaneese Cooking, A Simple Art.
The Way to Cook--Julia Child
Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
And frankly that's about it for hardcopy. Although I have many more books those are the one I tend to pull out most often for hardcopy references.
I do have quite a few regional 'garden club' type self published books that I refer too occasionally, and a few "Sunset" magazine cookbooks from the late 60s early 70's.
Everything else is internet searches these days or sources like food52.
I think I pulled the inspiration (or maybe I stole the recipe outright) for "Messy Crab" from one of those old Sunset cookbooks. Can't find it now. My mother used to cook from them, lots of canned mushroom soup [expletive omitted].
The Art of Simple Food, Alice Waters
Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Deborah Madison
Cook This Now or In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite, Melissa Clark
At Home with Madhur Jaffrey, Madhur Jaffrey
Rose's Heavenly Cakes, Rose Levy Beranbaum
There are more baking books I wanted to include! One by Alice Water is what got me really into art of cookbooks.
Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
Sunday Suppers at Lucques
Classic Home Desserts
Seductions of Rice
Thrill of the Grill
I have lots of cookbooks and love most of them dearly and cook from many of them, but a few have a privileged place in my kitchen--next to the toaster oven. The rest are relegated to a bookshelf. These are not everyday cookbooks (except for JOY), but I do pull them out for help and inspiration at least once a week. Others that deserve a shout out are anything by Rose Beranbaum and Peter Reinhart, On Food and Cooking, The Oxford Companion to Food, and White Trash Cooking (not a joke--it's a great little cookbook).
The Joy of Cooking by Rombauer, Becker, and Becker (2006)
How to Cook A Wolf (not a cookbook per se, but one of the most inspiring cooking books I've ever read) by M.F.K. Fisher
Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson
Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz
Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll
Petitbleu, I also have a copy of the White Trash Cookbook. A classic.
hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.
Does your White Trash Cookbook have the recipe for "Grand Canyon Cake"? That recipe cracks me up!
Out of Kentucky's Kitchens; Marion Flexner
The Gift of Southern Cooking; Edna Lewis & Scott Peacock
Thelma's Treasures; Susanna Thomas
At Home With Madhur Jaffrey; Madhur Jaffrey
Joy of Cooking; Irma S. Rombauer
The only book I'd assign to that category is Joy.
Beranbaum's Bread, Cake and Pastry Bibles are right up there though. And I'm tempted to consider Bayless' Authentic Mexican on the same level, but maybe that's because the cuisine is my current point of interest.
Sure glad I don't really have to choose just five…
The French Laundry, Bouchon, Perserve It, EATS, & The Gluten Free Girl & The Chef.
This will be tough, but I'll try to pick just 5:
Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller
Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless
The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten
Around My French Table by Dorrie Greenspan
The Silver Spoon (the Joy of Cooking of Italy)
In addition to the ones mentioned I would add Plenty and Moro East, as well as The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden.
Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
Tender, Vol. I by Nigel Slater
Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce
and my hand-written notebook collection
Oh yes, my White Trash Cooking has the Grand Canyon Cake, though I've never dared to make it. I have some friends here who are from the South, and they usually have a White Trash Party (though they do't call it that), and they serve fried alligator tails, crawfish, banana mayo sandwiches, and lots of beer in cans. It would be a good occasion to debut the Grand Canyon Cake!
In no particular order:
1. The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombaeur (I've been known to sit and just read it like a book)
2. Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson (it's changed the way I bake!)
3. Lee Bailey's Country Desserts by Lee Bailey (picked it up at random as a teenager and I've made almost everything in it)
4. Vegetarian Entrees That Won't Leave You Hungry by Lukas Volger (he's a friend but seriously! his book is so great!)
5. The Momofuku Cookbook by David Chang and Peter Meehan (pork belly! miso butter! etc)
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The Dean and DeLuca cookbook, for reference and for recipe launching points, and The French Laundry Cookbook, for inspiration. The binding on my copy of Ratio (Michael Ruhlman), too, gets a fair amount of exercise.
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The Ruhlman-Keller connection is interesting. Ruhlman, who is a fine writer has become the Boswell to Keller's Johnson. The fact that Ruhlman can also cook makes the partnership work.
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"Boswell to Keller's Johnson!"
Real food by Nigel Slater, One more slice by Leila Lindholm, Ottolenghi the Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi, the Almanack by Claus Meyer and finally the Books for Cooks own editions 1-8
Love the Books for Cooks series - and the store is like a mecca to me.
1) The New York Times Cookbook, Craig Claiborne, 1961 first edition because I'm fascinated by food history
2) The Splendid Table, Lynne Rosseto Kasper. Ditto on the food history part.
3) Simple French Food, Richard Olney. Say no more.
4) Catalan Cuisine, Colman Andrews. One of those less known treasures.
5) Zuni Cafe, Judy Rodgers. Chefs talking to chefs.
I must add that while own the Julia Child and Alice Waters books, I admire them for waking up Americans to real food but I rarely actually consult them for real cooking.
The '61 NYT has an honored place on my bookshelf as well and I love it for the same reasons you do. However, although it will instruct you how to prepare hasenpfeffer, you'll have to start with frozen meat. Only Joy will show you how to start from scratch by skinning the rabbit.
Richard Olney's Simple French Food is a treasure! He was one of the coolest chefs ever; I wish he was still around.
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I have a wall of cookbooks, and then a couple more smaller bookcases full of the classics, the "can't live withouts," the great reference books. But in my kitchen there is a shelf with 10 books (sorry, not 5) - the ones I go to repeatedly for inspiration and recipes. (I must be showing my age, because some of them are very old!
From Julia Child's Kitchen - Julia Child
Culinary Artistry - Dornenburg and Page
Menus for Pasta - Anna Teresa Callen
In the Hands of a Chef - Jody Adams
Sunday suppers at Lucques - Suzanne Goin
Bistro Cooking - Patricia Wells
Lauren Groveman's Kitchen - Lauren Groveman
Breads from Betsy's Kitchen - Betsy Oppenneer
Fresh Choices - David Joachim & Rochelle Davis
and mine - Feastivals Cooks at Home.
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I'm really surprised to see that The Best Recipe from the Cooks Illustrated folks isn't mentioned here. When you know how to cook it's nothing special, but when you're just getting your cooking legs under you I found its its detailed explanations of the *why* behind everything incredibly informative -- much more so than say, The Joy of Cooking.
Am I alone in loving this book or are people just embarrassed to 'fess up their love for the book?
You're far from alone in appreciating that book, and the CI approach, but is it really indispensible? As far as I'm concerned, Joy is. To put it another way, CI's books provide excellent, in-depth knowledge for the recipes included. Joy provides sufficient knowledge for virtually everything you'll ever want to cook.
1.The North Indian Association of Women Cookbook. It was a gift from my great aunt and includes recipes from my grandmother, who was a president of this women's club for a couple of years.
2. Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
3. The Essential New York Times Cookbook
4. Sunday Suppers at Lucques
5.Casa Moro by Sam and Sam Clarke
Great question, Brette!
5? Are you kidding? I consider a cookbook a keeper (well, technically, they're all keepers as I can't part with any) if I learn at least two or three new things from it, if it makes me think different about food, if it's a terrific read, or if there are recipes I still rely on. I have so many cookbooks I love and would keep if forced by natural disaster, or the like, to pare down. These include, in no particular order:
Marcella Cucina by Marcella Hazan
Simple Chinese Cooking by Kylie Kwong
Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge by Grace Young
Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck
Zuni Cafe by Judy Rodgers
Olives and Oranges by Sara Jenkins
Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan
Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin
The Cook and the Gardener by Amanda Hesser
Truly Mexican by Roberto Santibanez
Barefoot Contessa - At Home and Back to Basics
The Glorious Pasta of Italy by Domenica Marchetti
Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking and More Home Cooking
Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson
Spices of Life by Nina Simonds
The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger
Heart of the Home by Susan Branch,The Moosewood Cookbook and the Silver Palate mostly for sentimental reasons
Sorry, that's 20 by my count!
How to cook everything by Mark Bittman
Spice by Ana Sortun
Barefoot Contessa At Home
Ad Hoc at Home
Appetite by Nigel Slater, How to Cook Everything (Bittman), Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi, Momofuku by David Chang, Italian Two Easy: Simple Recipes from the London River Cafe , Gray + Rogers
I've enjoyed thinking about this for a few days.
Simple French Food by Richard Olney, which I'm in the process of re-reading cover to cover
Momofuku, because David Chang is brilliant, and again it's a good read
How To Eat Supper, because Lynne Rosetto Kasper is irresistible, and it's also lovely to read
My French Table by Joanne Harris and Fran Warde, because my daughter and I cooked our way through it the first summer my son didn't come home from college, and that was such a wonderful experience
The Bread Baker's Apprentice, because Peter Reinhart is the bread god
OMG... I've reread the Olney so many times I think I can recite parts of it! Likewise with Lynne Rossetto Kasper's Splendid Table.
Wow, what a great but hard question to answer!
Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin
All About Braising by Molly Stevens
Zuni Cafe by Judy Rodgers
The Last Course by Claudia Fleming
Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin (my absolute favorite, go-to cookbook)
Chez Panisse Cooking by Paul Bertolli and Alice Waters
Heart of the Artichoke by Paul Bertolli
The Martha Stewart Cookbook by Martha Stewart
Joy of Cooking
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The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, The Silver Palate Cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Parties, Forum Feasts.
All of Amanda's books, plus Bistro Cooking, The New Basics, The Barefoot Contessa, Cowgirl Cuisine, Jamie Oliver's first 3 books, a book put out by Glamour Magazine many years ago called Cooking on the Run, Thrill of the Grill, Fannie Farmer, Ken Haedrich's Simple Desserts...and, and, and...!!
every day pasta giada de laurentis
martha stewart cookies and cupcakes
best international recipes test kitchen
the family meal ( el bulli resto)
Assuming a scenario where the 5 would be the only cookbooks to which I would have access, my choice includes some of my longtime favorite books and some newer favorites:
1. Essential New York Times Cookbook, 2010, Amanda Hesser
2. Culinary Classics and Improvisations, 1967, Michael Fields
3. The Hay Day Cookbook, 1986, Maggie Stearns
4. The Joy of Cooking (mine is the 1975 edition), Irma Rombauer
5. Baking; From My Home to Yours, 2006, Dorie Greenspan
Cooking from an Italian Garden, Too Many Tomatoes, The Joy of Cooking, Diet for a Small Planet, and the original Silver Palate Cookbook.
I have one: The Best Recipe
Trattoria, Patricia Wells
Simple Fresh Southern, The Lee Brothers
Grill Book, Kelly McCune
Bristro cooking, Patricia Wells
The Bakers Companion, King Arthur Flour
OK since this thread is still going strong, I'll share a post I wrote about my ever-expanding, ridiculous collection of cookbooks. My Top 5 has changed in just the last 2 years since I wrote about my Top 10. White Trash Cooking fans take note.
Barefoot Contessa Cooks - Ina Garten
Fresh Everyday (Fosters Market) - Sarah Foster
How To Cook Everything - Mark Bitman
Betty Crocker 1950's edition (all desserts my gma made)
The Way to Cook - Julia Child
Fun! I love Time Life's The Good Cook series. I turn to this a lot for reference and recipes. I would definitely put this in my top 5 (okay so it's technically 28 books!). I also love Appetit by Nigel Slater, The Last Course by Claudia Fleming, JOC, and the original, New and Essential NYTimes Cookbooks.
Indeed the old Time Life books are worth collecting. They were authored by serious cooks. If they were still being published today (they are not) you would probably have French covered by someone like Daniel Boulod or Fish by Eric Ripert.
I agree that the old Time Life Books are classics. I have the entire series. It's hard to pick 5 as people have noted, and my current favorites (Morroco by Paula Wolfert, and Around My French Table - Dorrie Greespan) may not be on this list, but this list is both sentimental and truly useful:
1. The Silver Palate and the New Basics - Julie Rosso and Sheila Lukins
2. Cook's Illustrated
3. How to Cook Everything and Everything Vegetarian - Mark Bittman
4. Baking, From My Home to Yours - Dorrie Greenspan
5. Soup and Bread, the Dairy Hollow Farm House - Crescent Dragonwagon this is a gem of nothing but creative soups, stews, breads, muffins and biscuits - comfort food at it's finest and most interesting. I've made everything in it at least once, and many are committed to memory.
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So fun to read everyone's answers. I feel like mine are kind of redundant with many already said, but the books I turn to most often for either technique help or inspiration are: The Silver Palate, The Splendid Table, Sunday Suppers at Lucques, The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen (Paula Wolfert), and I'm newly obsessed with the French Laundry. I used to be quite intimidated by Thomas Keller's precision and some of the complexity, but lately I've found myself wanting those types of tips and instructions and have been finding it really helpful.
All my favorites have been mentioned except for the Flour Bakery and Cafe's cookbook-- I love Chang's bakery and her cookbook is fantastic. She also has an explanations section at the beginning that's very helpful with methods and ingredients.
These are pretty cool. A mount for the ipad to attach to the 'fridge.
Thank you, Sam.
Ok, I have many of the books here and use many of them often, but I have to say I'm surprised to see only one mention of "The Last Course" by Claudia Fleming. This is one of the greatest dessert books I have (and i have quite a few!) and one I use very often. (Just finished a lemon dessert from it for a dinner party.) Sadly, it is out of print and the last time I checked, hundreds of dollars for the few copies that remain. She offers great plated desserts, interesting mixes . . . really, a great dessert book.
"Colorado Cache" and "Creme de Colorado" by the Junior League of Denver
Gaston Lenotre's Great Book of Patisserie - it is what started it all for me when I was 13
Also excellent: Larousse Gastronomique and the Time Life series books
All of these are available with a little online searching:
Camille Glenn's Heritage of Southern Cooking ( great stories behind the simple recipes,too)
Cookie Mania-100 favorite recipes
All Cakes Considered -NPR ( one of the few quasi- Governmental agency Good Things to come from Washington ,DC however it is a privately produced cookbook )
Once in a Blue Moon Cookbook- a locally produced cookbook from a Montgomery ,Alabama restaurant owner- Cecil McMillan- really simple good food and recipes from the 50's and 60's- somewhat hard to find but not impossible -the poppy seed dressing and mexican wedding cookie recipes are worth the time to find an old copy-don't give up if used copies are all you find.most are autographed by Cecil and truly a treasure.
NYT International Cookbook by Craig Claiborne- also dated from the 70's however worth the search for the browned butter cookie recipe alone
Here is a partial answer. Any cooking book (by year) by Cooks Illustrated. All their recipes are well tested, accurate and delicious. Finecooking books are good too.
1. Joy of Cooking
2. America's Test Kitchen complete cookbook (the Cooks Illustrated people....they will never steer you the wrong way)
3. Simple Fresh Southern by the Lee Brothers (so many little hidden gems in this one)
4. Baking by Dorie Greenspan (unexpectedly amazing baking recipes, along with perfect recipes for old standards, and so well written)
5. Mastering The Art of French Cooking Vol 1 (I have thrown more than one butter centered dinner party thanks to this cookbook)
BBQ USA by Steve Raichlen - because I've just learned so much from it and no longer defer to my spouse to 'man' the grill.
The Complete Vegetarian Cuisine by Rose Elliot - and I've owned several different editions because Rose seemed to be the first person to write about truly elegant and satisfying vegetarian cuisine that transcends the 'vegetarian' category.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child - Again, I learned a lot of basics, basics made really easy, and it's a 'go to' in times of crisis.
The Bouchon cookbook by Thomas Keller because it has everything I want to eat in it and the only pastry recipe I can make work.
Barefoot Contessa anything - Ina reminds us that it doesn't have to be fancy or pretentious, just really good and sometimes that means simple favorites with a good flower arrangement and plenty of wine.
In reading through this list it's interesting that Sunday Suppers at Luques pops up so much. I don't own the book but I have dined at Suzanne Goin's restaurants. I do own the Zuni Cafe book though and it is a touchstone for many chefs, Judy Rodgers never gets as much credit as she deserves for that.
Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan, because i love baking. And I love Dorie. And I love Julia. So there.
The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, because i can get crazy inspired with all the flavor pairings.
James Beard's American Cookery by James Beard, because it's nice to read about how things were done back in the day.
Julia's Kitchen Wisdom by Julia Child, because it's perfect in every way - small, thorough and it's Julia through and through.
BakeWise by Shirley Corriher, because I love the science geek aspect to baking, and Shirley makes it understandable.
While I admire and love many of the cookbooks mentioned -- and the half a gazillion I've read and loved -- one that no one has mentioned, but is especially deserving of mention, is The New York Times Heritage Cookbook, edited by Jean Hewitt.
Some of the best recipes any of us have -- and treasure -- are those handed down by others. Some of the best recipes on Food52 are recipes like that. The New York Times Heritage Cookbook has just that sort of recipe.
Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen
The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum
The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion
World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey
The Silver Spoon
As a food writer, I have more than a hundred cookbooks, but those I use most are:
Singapore Food (which I must confess I wrote)
Green Mangoes and Lemon Grass (ditto)
Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty
Elizabeth David's French Provincial Food
Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book
I too was struck by the many mentions of Sunday Suppers at Luques. I had the great fortune to meet Suzanne Goin when I dined at one of her restaurants, and I told her that her book was perhaps my favorite of the hundreds of cookbooks that I own. She said that the publisher had wanted her to "make it more like Rachel Ray's books," but that she had refused. She said that she knew she wouldn't sell as many books, but hoped that there was an audience of serious cooks who would appreciate it. All the inclusions of her book as one of their five favorites by the serious cooks at Food52 is a testament to Goin's success. I urged her to write another, and she just smiled...
Among my many other favorites:
Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax
The Making of a Cook by Madeline Kamman
Happy in the Kitchen by Michel Richard
Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
All of Paula Wolfert's books
The Last Course by Claudia fleming
Most chefs don't write their own books, no matter how much they've protested being called out by Julia Moskin. Suzanne did write hers. And writing a book of that depth and quality takes a LOT of time. She's not only owner/chef of several restaurants in LA, she's also a wife and mom. I too hope she'll write another, but I won't blame her if she doesn't. ;)
The French Chef Cookbook by Julia Child
The Good Food of Italy by Claudia Roden
Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey
Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge by Grace Young
French Provincial Cuisine by Christian Delu
I go with the cookbook that Simca, Julia and just about every woman in France learned to cook from "Je Sais Cuisiner" from Ginette Mathiot. I have a tattered, heavily marked up French version from my Grandmother (some of the comments are insane) as well as the English version.
Madhur Jaffrey is excellent as are those community/church fundraiser cookbooks from those times when every mother put a full dinner on the table. Excellent sources for tips, tricks, time and money savers.
Anything in the 'Moosewood' collection; reliable, healthy, tasty, and way ahead of their time. Also, whenever I need to find a recipe for an abundance of produce, I turn to 'Simply in Season' by the authors of 'More with Less." Molly Katzen is brilliant. My newest favorite is Mark Bittman's "The Greatest Dishes in the World" for its diversity and superb organization.
Great Cakes by Carole Walter
Breaking Bread series by Father Dominic
5 Spices, 50 Dishes: Simple Indian Recipes Using Five Common Spices by Ruta Kahate
Plus an assortment of recipes from family and friends that I collected over the years.
The Joy Of Cooking, Marcella Hazen's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, any cookbook by Ina Garten, The Pie & Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum and The New York Times cookbook most recent edition.
Oops, sorry I misread the tag I added 6 oh well...
The Last Course, Claudia Fleming
Baking From My Home To Yours, Dorie Greenspan
The Art of Simple Food. Alice Waters
The Babbo Cookbook, Mario Batali
I may add Plenty....since I'll be eating at Nopi in a few days!!!!
Plenty - Yotam Ottolenghi
Anything by Ina Garten. All of her books are great.
The Herbal Kitchen - Jerry Traunfeld
Essential Pepin - Jacques Pepin
Ready for Dessert - David Lebovitz
Simple French Food by Richard Olney
Mediterranean Grains and Greens by Paula Wolfert
Zuni Cafe by Judy Rogers
Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey
Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart
Better Homes & Garden's (circa...1970)
The Silver Palate
Martha Stewarts, Cupcakes
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