Creativity Challenge(d)

“If you are creative and you know it, clap your hands. If you’re creative and you know it, clap your hands. If you’re creative and you know it then your face will surely show it….”

Are you clapping your hands? Or are you sitting on them, thinking “not me”?

Before we talk about our creativity, or lack thereof, will you participate in our very own Creativity Poll? It will only take a few seconds, there’s just that one question. Here’s the link to the poll.

(Sorry, y’all, that poll only allows for 100 votes; so it’s closed already….88% answered YES and 12% answered NO)

Thanks to the CREATIVITY of reader Sara! I started a new poll. Here’s the link to the new one. Pop over and vote!

Continue reading

  1. Michele says:

    I have been having a blast lately making Farmgirl related items. I have made a set of Farmgirl notecards, a recipe box and a chicken notebook. What fun My mind is going a mile a minute
    You can see them at

  2. Dianne says:

    Rebekah: Lucky you!! James Taylor (swoon) One thing about him is his voice clarity. We had far far away seat at an outdoor concert. His voice came through loud and clear. My dream is to meet him someday too. I love your blogs!!! Thanks for them. Best wishes Dianne (FLA)

  3. CC says:

    I spent some time with my PC’s scanner & scanned favorite recipes from cookbooks on the shelves that I rarely used (there are some books that have just a few yet I keep the whole book for some reason!). This allowed me to print the recipes I love & use and give away the cookbooks that I don’t use and that take up a lot of space … felt good to accomplish, more of my favorites are now behind plastic protector sheets in my recipe binder & got me more organized too!

  4. Shari says:

    I am working on another pair of MaryJane’s slippers right now. I have also been doing little things in the garden. I hope to rein in the climbing roses by the garage next!

  5. Shery says:

    For 25 years I’ve been paid for my creativity (I guess that makes me a psuedo professional). I’ve always felt that creativity as a label is unfairly hoarded and gets mooshed down into an ittybitty box, The result is sorta like when Cinderella’s big-footed sister tries to make the tiny glass slipper fit and her big ole foot pops it off. Creativity is a huge category and it will NOT fit into a stingey little box!! People that design satellite communications systems are creative, as are researchers that work on curing diseases. All the people that work on how to make our lives safer are creative troubleshooters. Chefs are creative as is any cook that enjoys the art and likes to experiment. Creative thought is like the air we breath, it is everywhere and in everyone. Dealing with Life demands it. Some of it is work related, some it falls under the heading of "just for fun"…hobby therapy. Anyone who works in the arts (and crafts) will tell you that even though they enjoy their job, it is a job and it feels like work. A friend of mine has been a career medical illustrator (surgeon’s manuals); her hobby is also art, but it is much more playful and fanciful. She jokes that her ‘job’ is to draw bones & innards. Another friend is a newspaper owner and she is a creative machine that has a weekly deadline. Parents that take the time to enrich their childrens lives with family traditions, outings, and just how to do things in everyday life are 110% 24/7 creative!

    Well anyway, I second your thoughts…everyone is creative. We all have bellybuttons and we all have a creative soul. If you don’t think so, you’re probably not looking in the right place. If you let yourself see that part of you, you’re on the verge of really widening your life by turning your inner child loose. Being fearless in self exploration is, in my opinion, the key that turns the lock. :o) Shery

  6. Dana says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post on creativity and for the survey. For the past 20 plus years I’ve been leading spiritual and creative workshops and classes for women. My passion is to inspire women to discover and express their creative gifts.

    I offer an online class to teach women how to craft a special "Book of Wonderment" that is part scrapbook part journal, and chock full of all the things that inspire a your imagination and creativity. You can read about my class at on the Classroom page.

    Living life with sacred and creative awareness means living as a Sacred Life-Artisan! Let’s begin a new Renaissance of creativity and spread beauty, hope, and inspiration wherever we go and make our life our art!!

    Thank you, Rebekah, for YOUR inspiration and the beauty you bring to the world… Dana Reynolds Carmel, California

  7. Sarah says:

    I’ve been working on a new wall hanginmg for my shop. That’s my officially creative thing. I also love to readaloud to my kiddos and I change my voice around for the different characters. I made bread. Lots of ways to see being creative. Thanks for the reminder Rebekah!

  8. Mary Rauch says:

    I’ve been been making BRINED veggies, hopefully to use as some "hard to buy for" Dads on the upcoming Father’s Day.
    Sorry I got my recipe and my labels clip art from a competitor’s magazine…don’t hate me.

  9. meredith says:

    I am cleaning bathrooms today- does that count?

  10. carol branum says:

    Hi Rebecca,Thankyou for asking,I sew a lot,I am totally obsessed,and I am trying to form a new website,but,my life is so busy,so under construction is,I haven,t gotton very far on it because I do hair also and only have time to work on things between clients,I have had two fashion shows,also doing the hair on the models and have been giving talks to several ladies groups,I got a write up in the newspaper ,I have a booth now at the Faithful Peddler Antique Mall on 71 hiway near Walmarts here at Lamar,its upstairs,and I am so excited!I never would of started it all if It was not for my love of Mary Janes Farm,I was so deeply depressed when I picked up my first copy almost two years ago,and she made me want to live again.,Oh my Joplin Mo relatives are all OK and so far we have had no damage here,will probably go to a shelter tonight to be safe,we have a couple more days of this they say.Please ask Spirit to bless Joplin MO and pray for thease people,I sure hope all my hard work does not blow away!Blessed be,Carol Branum,Lamar MO.

  11. Julie says:

    Creativity in the last couple of days…..hmmmmm

    Took pictures of my gardens explosion because it’s so lovely right now.
    Took pictures of my dog and hubs
    Completed a few blog posts
    Almost finished sewing a skirt
    Organized my craft room
    Put a few items on freecycle and now the ‘stuff’ is out of my house and to someone that needs/wants it.
    Decided on a few dinner menus for the upcoming beginning of summer weekend. (so excited)
    Also decided on a new drinky-poo for the start of the weekend…;)

    Wow, that’s quite a list and I think it is really creative because it involves thinking differently and doing differently. LOVE THAT!
    Have a great day!

  12. Rebekah says:

    Carol, I’m sending up prayers for you, your family and everyone who has been impacted by the storms. Good to hear from you! Please keep us posted. Thinking of you…

  13. Debbie says:

    Fantasitc topic Rebekah! CREATIVITY! You said it, Life is Creative;life is ART! I believe we are made to be creative, to be problem solvers and express our creativity in just about everything we do! Artists of LIFE! Creativity doesn’t just belong to artists. It lives and breathes within each of us! I was fortunate to work in the creative industry of hairdressing for 18 years,followed by 12 years of homeschooling where I’ve learned to stretch my creative wings even further as a mother and facilitator of learning for our two home grown kids. All along I’ve tried my hand an many artsy endeavors. Sewing, painting furniture,home decor, gardening and photography and now writing my HOME ARTS blog Dandelion House and the MJFbeachblog too! Life is a wonderful creative journey! We just need to stay open so we can " recieve " our own creative messages then just go for it!

    Here’s my list of creativity for this week:

    1) Write my next blog for the mjfbeachblog
    2) Now that the rain has stopped I can assemble my two raised garden beds.
    3) Set up temperary " housing " for my newest batch of 8 Auracaunas outside while hubby finishes the run! I used a dog fence, a dog crate and a tarp! Not the prettiest arrangement but it will do in a pinch until the full set up is finished!
    4)Added Verbena and Catmint to my perennial garden.
    5)Researched how to get rid of a very unwanted woodchuck that has taken up residence under our shed and all but eaten my elephant sized hollyhock down to the nubbins!
    ( anyone know how to get rid of a woodchuck)?


    Great post Rebekah! Loved it!

  14. Lisa says:

    I harvested my first homegrown beets and am cooking the beets now, saving the greens for another dinner and will freeze the cooking water to make ‘ice pops’ for my chickens. I am also knitting a chicken hat for a friend’s daughter, making up the pattern as I go along. I built a covered duck feeder for my 7 ducks so their feed doesn’t get wet when it rains also.

  15. Caron says:

    I made several meals this week using some of the vegetables from the garden I planted earlier this year!

  16. I feel that everyone is creative myself! Some people just don’t realize it.

    1. I planted two flower beds with herbs.
    2. I took pictures of some of the flowers that are blooming.
    3. I worked on my Gourd Art
    4. I taught a class in Gourd Art.
    5. I’ve come up with a couple of new designs.

    Come see me at my blog:

    Loved this article!

    Hugs XX

  17. Yes, I am a creative person, and over the last few years I have had to re-evaluate my idea of an artist! It’s not just someone who paints pictures or creates sculptures or makes music. Anyone who creates is an artist! I loved your post because it really reflected how I feel about the topic.

    I am a papercrafter, primarily making cards and tags. It makes me happy to sit at my work table and make things. You can find my blog here >>> and I hope you will leave me a comment if you visit!

    Love reading your blog, your fellow Georgia girl,

    Becky Garrison
    Chapter Leader Sunshine Sisters Farmgirls
    Cumming, Georgia

  18. Rebecca says:

    I like my veggie garden to be visually pleasing…flowers, interesting layouts (no rows!!!), and 3-d climbers for cukes, peas, etc. Been out there all week 🙂

  19. sue says:

    This is Renaisance Fair season and I just finished the last Elizabethan costume,I hope:)

  20. Natalie says:

    Oh yes. Creativity. I am a quilter, a pattern designer, and before that a ‘suit’ but even then, commercial interior architectural design. Now as a quilt pattern designer of ‘all things tropical, bright, fresh’ I fall asleep every night to dream in color and pattern, and wake every morning to a day full of possibilities, being inspired by everything I see.
    Creative? You bet. + beyond the reef
    It’s what I do. It’s what I live.

  21. Kristy says:

    I haven’t done this yet, but I have an idea.
    MaryJane’s latest magazine had dish-drainer quilts. Way cool. I have two queen size pillow cases, which have lost their twins and I have been thinking of putting batting into the closed, plain end, sewing/ironing it in place and then flipping the fancy open end over, so the border of the pillow case is somewhat off center. Yes, the quilt will be thicker at that point but the dish-drainer will straddle the bulk.
    If you haven’t seen MaryJane’s idea check it out. I have been using old bath towels with worn out selvages and fringe on the sides. Worse still I keep washing and drying these old towels, wasting water and natural gas. MJ shows off her quilts on skirt hangers, economical and e-cological at the same time.

  22. MaryFrantic says:

    Above, I think Barbara Moore may have typed her own blog address incorrectly??.
    I think it is:
    I hope I am being helpful, because I could not access it until I took out the word "gourd"??

  23. Marcie says:

    Thank you Rebekah for inspiring us (and teal is my favorite color).
    We (hubs and I) are being creative with our on-going hummingbird/butterfly gardens in our yard by adding a few more native perennials and continuing our wildscape garden, hope to be done someday so we can sit back and enjoy them. Found a really neat site and purchased some great plants, (hope I can add that in my message).

    Hold out for the autograph of James Taylor, it can happen. Plan for it, envision it. A few years ago I had the chance to see The Moody Blues in concert in Tahoe and so wanted to meet my favorite of the group, Justin Hayward but did not know how this could happen. I had to wait a while for the box office to open to get my ticket so I window shopped in the mini mall behind the theatre and ventured into a book store and low and behold there was none other than Mr. Hayward himself. He was so nice and such a gentleman, we chatted and I got his autograph. The concert that PM was a blast! Believe it and it will come true.

  24. Jill Willett says:

    Hi, Read thru. There’s an offer at the end. I am Racine, WI. My grandchildren are here. I live for 4 winter months in Texas(with my husband). A move is planned, because the Rd. where I live has gone from country to raceway. It’s noisey & dirty. There is one nice house on a very quiet street.
    I’m selling, donating and tossing stuff. I have endless supplies of ribbons, old knit & crochet books; & pamphlets; hardbound books, yarn & more yarn, sewing needles, knitting needles. Plus approx. 100 old sewing patterns! I will be part of a sewing organization sale and large antique store sale in the fall.
    Some time ago, I sent for an unseen box of swimsuit material…$5. It was fun.
    Over the yrs., I’ve sewn 20 yrs. of costume for the community theatre and 8 yrs. at the Bristol Renaissance Faire.
    If anything in my stash sound interesting ,let me know. Maybe, it’s what you could use.
    I’m committed to keeping supplied for about 5 sewing and knitting projects. It’ll lighten my load emotionally, too. It’s all going for a song. Jill Willett Can this be displayed ?

  25. rebekah says:

    Hi Jill! How fabulous! Make sure to post your information over at the Farmgirl Connection too!

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The Spirit of Cooking

So Lisa, who is getting married in June 18th, sent such a sweet email. She wants to find a good, solid cookbook that will teach her to cook.
I’m wondering if you could recommend a cookbook for me. I’m looking for a standard, all purpose Bible. I’m very inexperienced in the kitchen. How did you learn to cook? Is there a book that taught you?”
So I do what I always do. I come to my Farmgirl Sisters! What do you think? I’m at a loss for an answer to Lisa’s question.
Her email has made me think a lot about how I learned to cook and how both my cooking and my attitude about cooking have evolved throughout the years.
But truly, I’m not sure how exactly I learned to cook.

Continue reading

  1. Mary Rauch says:

    In this day of computers, all you have to do is pick a recipe, like "French Onion SOUP". Type in your browser and ask for picture guide or video guide, and instantly on your computer you can watch pictures OR video of the recipes being made (as though you were standing at their shoulder).

  2. Linda says:

    For someone just learning how to cook I highly recommend Jamie Oliver’s books: Cook With Jamie and Jamie’s Food Revolution. Simple, basic, healthy recipes that everyone can master. Another good cookbook for beginners, or those looking to rediscover some old favorites: The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Love her step-by-step photos. I have a huge cookbook collection and I love to try new recipes and consider myself a veteran in the kitchen. However these are 3 books I return to often just because of the simplicity and deliciousness! My oldest daughter will be going off to college next year and has already asked to take these cookbooks with her. Hmmm, I’ll probably have to get her a set of her own, I won’t part with them. 🙂

  3. I am blessed to have a husband that loves to cook and he is very good at it. When it comes to throwing ingredients in a pan he knows just what to choose, no cookbooks needed. My passion is baking and I consider myself a successful baker. I have turned my passion into a business with baking wholesome organic treats for our canine companions. However, when I do venture into the kitchen to cook on top of the stove I use the ‘America’s Test Kitchen’ TV Show Cookbook. These are recipes that they have perfected by repeating them many many times until the outcome is just perfect. So, you know if you follow the directions you can rest assured the outcome will be a success. They cover everything from the basics to the perfect French omelet. As a bonus, there is information on tools of the trade to make cooking simpler. I highly recommend it and wish you the best.

  4. Diana Henretty says:

    When we moved from Phoenix Arizona to the mountains of Montana, most all the women cooked from scratch in our new
    little town. I bought Amish and Mennonite cookbooks to learn
    to cook from scratch, they are basic, simple and down to
    earth! Everything from gardening, canning, soups and sauces are written beautifully, with stories of their lives!

  5. I had very little experience in the kitchen and our cleaning lady gave me Better Homes and Gardens binder style cookbook and another person gave me Betty Crocker, they are terrific for the beginner and have all the info you need to start. From that point I have collected nearly 1,000 cookbooks and now with the computer I am reducing the load!!!! I read cookbooks like novels and the vintage ones are the BEST!!!

  6. Gaynell Tooley-Dye says:

    When I was learning to cook several decades ago, what I didn’t learn from my Meemaw mostly came out of "Meta Given’s Encyclopedia of Cooking", my Mother’s copy from the 1950’s. Once I was on my own, I relied on what was then the current version (circa 1968) of the same book, by then 2 fat volumes. I don’t know if there is still a version of this in print or not, but Amazon or a used book service could possibly locate a copy. It pretty much covers everything, and sometimes just browsing helped me come up with ideas. These days, most of my "entertaining" is cooking for extended family, and meal planning is largely ruled by requests. Funny, but the recipes I learned from Meemaw many years ago top this list! Ah, comfort food!

  7. Shawn says:

    Just learning to cook? If you want to start cooking right away, I’d start with the Jamie Oliver suggestions but add "The America’s Test Kitchen" cookbook and "The Joy of Cooking". Both give you references to herbs, spices, grains and various other things you might not find in a basic cookbook. These two will explain the difference between long grain and short grain rice and which is better in what recipe!

  8. Mary Jane (from FL not Idaho) says:

    I think everyone should own "The Joy of Cooking" for how it explains the technique of cooking so many different things.

  9. Julie Wemken says:

    Betty Crocker has been my go to cookbook since I married 31 years ago. It’s the best for actual cooking instructions. Now, if you just want great recipes I would go with any of Paula Deen’s cookbooks. Her recipes are fantastic. Good luck to the bride! Blessings!

  10. Kristy says:

    I know what you mean about not knowing when you knew how to cook. I do remember being a pro at scrambled eggs and pasta before I got married. Then,trying to impress my young husband,it was Lobster and homemade cream puffs. Now I love slow cooking. I know when I wake up on a chilly,overcast day,it’s gonna be soup. The kind that you start in the morning and is just ready at dinner. I love the smells that come from taking time to "take your time" in the kitchen. I know time is always hard to come by, but it’s worth it. I have a lot of cook books, but my go to bible of "how" is the red and white checkered Betty book! I also LOVE the old church cook books you can find at yard sales and such. They always seem to have the local favorites that everyone loves, but seems to forget that one ingredient for. The biggest piece of advice to that wonderful young bride,would be to be determined and brave in her cooking! Don’t be afraid to go for it,and be bold! You will mess up sometimes, but that’s what your local pizza shop is for. Happy cooking!

  11. Reba says:

    Mrs. Wilkes’ Boardinghouse Cookbook: Recipes and Recollections from Her Savannah Table [Hardcover] by Sema Wilkes—I bought this for a friend from Michigan for a Christmas gift because of her dream of coming to see Savannah, GA. The locals in Savannah say this is the place one needs to go when visiting historic Savannah. But the book…once I received it…I checked it out before sending the gift to our friend and I fell in love with it!!! I so wished I had this book when I first married 30 years before. My hubby would not have had to suffer through my dislike of cooking or trial and error cooking. The book is basic cooking, but you can use "organic" in the place of some suggested ingredients. (You can use olive oil in the place of some of her suggested ingredients and the recipes still taste great, even better to me since I prefer organic.) I just wished I had this cookbook when I was young since my Mom passed away when I was very young. This business woman from Savannah could probably cook almost as good as my Mom. It also costs less than $20.00 which is rare for a cookbook!

  12. Denise says:

    I have to agree with Linda. The Pioneer Woman Cooks is a patient and down to earth teacher.I think I started with lessons from family members.Mom teaching me the basics like peeling,memere taught me canning and auntie a great Italian sauce. I guess what I’m saying is your best cookbook is family and friends. As you break bread with them your cookbook will grow and be filled with love and memories and that’s what makes it great.

  13. cate tuten says:

    Love your blog, Rebeka!! And your daddy’s roses! When I got married 35 years ago I got the most wonderful present and cook book entitled, "Brides Eye-View Of Cooking" by Elise Maclay. I don’t even know if you can get it any more. But I still remember how much I loved it and used it and studied it as a young and so-in-love bride. I still pull it out today and use some of the tried and true receipts. Just looking at the cover makes me smile and remember…..Whether it’s still published or not is not really important, but what is, is I hope this soon to be bride finds a cook book that will fill her with just as much excitement and hope for cooking and making a new life with the man she loves as this book did me. And I’m so grateful that all these years later, I’m still loving and cooking for my husband, grown children and grand kids!! Blessings to you and her, Cate Tuten

  14. I love my Better Homes and Gardens cook book. It is my go to book for all the basics. I love the Pioneer Woman book also and even bought a copy for my step-dad.

  15. Maureen says:

    My all time favorite cookbooks are Favorite Recipes From Quilters by Louise Stoltfuz (It’s like being at a church social with everyone’s tried and true recipes!) and the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, for general information about everything. I also enjoy the Christmas Recipies From Quilters too. Of course, having a husband that was raised in the restaurant business and loves to cook doesn’t hurt either!

  16. Cindy says:

    When I was of high school age there was something called "Home Ec." I know most of the younger crowd has probably not heard of it, but we learned to cook and sew there. (Just kidding!!!) When I went to college I bought the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. It has everything in it. I think it has great descriptions and pictures on how to do things for the beginner. Once you learn the basics you can always branch out into your areas of interest. The most important part is to have fun and experiment.

  17. I had that red and white cookbook when my kids were small! They all still talk about it today, and they’re in their twenties and thirties. In fact, I think I gave the whole book to one of my daughters, at her request.

    These days, I get a lot of recipes online. I use a lot of Cooking Light recipes. I have an entire shelf of cookbooks, and I use all of them. No favorites really, but the books that get the most use are The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison, and that great Italian cookbook, Silver Spoon. And I LOVE Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking. It’s not really a cookbook, but it’s a wealth of knowledge on food, and it’s fun to read, too!

    I really wonder if one can learn to cook from a book. It can only be learned by doing. Yes, use a recipe and follow it, but be prepared for a little uncertainty, and perhaps some iffy results until you get the hang of it.

    The best way to learn to cook? In the kitchen, with someone who knows how, preferably someone you love. Know someone who gets giddy at the opportunity to cook something? Get in there with them! Watch and imitate. Improvise. Have fun.

  18. Denise says:

    I used Fanny Farmer cookbook for many years. Still refer to it often for some standby recipes (chicken curry, fruit pies). But recently I bought Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. Great descriptions and illustrations. I learned to cook from my mom, some classes, an occasional television show, experimentation and friends. And probably just as much, from my cookbooks. Look to all sorts of resources. Compliment good cooks by asking them to teach you a technique you don’t yet know. Many will love to show you how they make a perfect pie crust or cut up a whole chicken. Experiment, don’t be a perfectionist, have a sense of humor coupled with a sense of adventure and have fun!

  19. Sheryl says:

    I love Southernplate by Christy Jordan. I have many cookbooks. I collect them. I have used recipes here and there. I mostly cook a little of this and that. But Christy Jordan’s cookbook is full of southern homestyle recipes from family and friends and stories to go with each. The recipes are yummy as well as making you feel a part of the tradition of southern family. : )

  20. Marji says:

    This is a tough one. I learned to cook from watching the women in my family then branched out to collecting cookbooks. I really don’t have a favorite, just favorite foods. But the one question that always came up when reading those favorite recipes was what cooking utensil do I use. I think a book on how to use the tools would be a great value for a new cook then the recipes will make themselves. Tell her to keep it simple and something she and her new husband love. Have fun!!

  21. Barbara says:

    Ree Drummond’s cook bokk THE PIONEER WOMAN. It has great recipes and great pictures in it. Highly recommended.

  22. Cathy Pyatt says:

    The "Joy of Cooking" is a great all-purpose cookbook. I have compiled my own small one over the years of recipes that I get from family etc. ASk around about recipes that you like of others that you know and family. Church ladies are always good for a covered-dish recipe or two. I would be glad to share my little book with anyone who is interested as well.

  23. Lynda says:

    I probably have over 100 cookbooks which I love looking through for special recipes or a good read. But I have to say that for my fall back book, I always reach for my Betty Crocker cookbook which is coming out of it’s binding, has had liquids spilled over it and is hanging together by a thead.

  24. Tina says:

    The Blackberry Farm Cookbook is amazing and beautiful. But as a beginner I would go with a few of my favorites….
    Martha Stewarts Baking Handbook
    Any Barefoot Contessa Cookbook .
    Tyler Florence Family Meal
    Those are great cookbooks. I find I do better with cookbooks that have great photographs of the foods. Southern Living cookbooks are also great. I learn best by watching the foodnetwork or any tv cooking show. Good luck. Take your time and enjoy the learning process:)

  25. Michele says:

    I recommend Americas Test Kitchen family cookbook. It explains why you need to do certain things while cooking, and what happens if you don’t. I have given it as a gift to all of my friends when the get engaged and they all love it. I also love Ree Drumonds The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Very simple easy to follow steps. Out of my entire collection of cookbooks (and there are a lot) These are the ones I always turn to. Plus Ree has a wonderful website that she is always updating. Her whiskey cream sauce you want to eat plain. Enjoy!

  26. Diana says:

    My first cookbook is one I still refer to today. I got it shortly after I got married in 1968. Haven’t poisoned my husband in 41 years so guess it’s all okay.

    Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 14th edition, is the latest one I have, although I still use my original most often. The book has been published since 1930. It’s full of good, basic recipes. The instructions are clear and easy to follow. They are also easy to adapt once you are familiar with your family’s likes and dislikes. The book also includes a list of equivalents, emergency substitutions and a chapter on cooking basics. It’s a great, all-around reference and I have given a number of them for shower and wedding gifts.

    Best wishes on your recent wedding. Peace and God Bless, Diana L.

  27. Brenda says:

    I had one cookbook when I moved out on my own. It was a Betty Crocker Cookbook. I had all the simple everyday recipes that I could use and then I depended on recipes given to me by friends after a sampling of something they had made. And of coarse any info I would need to make it happen right. I would agree with some of the other commenters here that the Pioneer Women’s Cookbook is a good one. Even at 50-something it is great to have the step by step pictures of something you have never made before or something you have made but has always flopped. To this day I cannot make a decent batch of fried chicken. My mother always made great fried chicken for picnics but she never wanted anyone hanging around in the kitchen so I do not know how she made it. I bought a new iron skillet and hubs says he is going to try his hand at it himself. Thanks for all the new cookbook ideas!

  28. Rebecca says:

    How to Cook Without a Book by Pamela Anderson allowed me to learn to look in my garden, pantry, and fridge and "see" meals without having to make menu plans and follow traditional recipes.
    I’d also recommend the "Pie Birds and Muddy Puddles" blog at for a new bride. Her recipes are geared towards younger palates and have step by step tutorials.

  29. I am loving The Pioneer Woamn Cooks. Easy recipes to follow, great food and wonderful pictures to help you out. Also, I have 4 sons and a husband and this food will make any man and woman very happy!!!!!!!

  30. Debbie Ricardo says:

    I grew up the 2nd of 4 daughters with a stay at home mom. I would help in the kitchen and watch her and ask questions. Later I took classes in Jr high and high school.I was lucky to spend a lot of summers with my Aunt Margaret who cooked everything from scratch. And my all time go to cook book has been "Better homes and Garden New Cook Book" Not only does it have great receipes but it as very handy and often used substitution and conversion charts. Over the years I have given it often as a bridal shower gift.

  31. carl says:

    I have always loved cookbooks, read many while learning what we liked to eat. We still experiment in the kitchen. Since our children are raised and on their own, it is usually okay if dinner takes a bit of time to get on the table. We can linger over our meal, visit, talk about our day and discuss tomorrow.
    The best advice I can give a new bride, is try. Try the recipe that sounds good, if you like the ingredients it amy turn out wonderful. Time, take time to read the recipe, ask questions if you don’t know the ingredients or term. Experiment with the seasonings. Make notes, about the recipe and food in the margins, Likes and Dislikes, too much of sage, we like more pepper. Relax and have fun!
    If she is as lucky as I was her new husband will eat what she has cooked, and not choke too much. He is still eating when I cook some 35 years later. We laugh about my first attempt at baking powder biscuits, fried chicken, and a few other items that have been disasters over the years. AND we will try a new recipe any day of the year.

  32. Theresa says:

    Betty Crocker & Better homes and Gardens are the 2 I usually reach for first. And I have a lot of cookbooks. one whole room with bookshelves full. They are my favorite read also.

  33. Nicole says:


    My 12 year old son loves to cook. He wanted his own cookbook so he could make dinner without any help. I searched and found "Better Homes and Garden Anyone Can Cook, step by step recipes just for you". It is great with clear pictures and recipes categorized by difficulty. Not sure the difference between minced and diced, it shows you. This is a great cookbook to learn the terminology and basics before moving onto classics such as "Joy of Cooking" and even the "Better Homes and Garden New Cook Book" which assume you know basic cooking terms and techniques.

    Tonight my son made Blackberry glazed pork for dinner.

    Congratulations and happy cooking.

  34. kathy schild says:

    I have collected many cookbooks over the years because, I think, I enjoy reading much more than I enjoy being in the kitchen. 🙂 🙂 🙂 However, the cookbook that actually helped me understand how to enjoy being in the kitchen is Robert Arbor’s Joie de Vie. He is a Frenchman and a professional chef, but his book is about his family life with his wife and two young sons. He focuses on the rhythm of life, beautifully and easily placing the kitchen at the center of it. He strives to educate Americans in the French way of slowing down and consciously enjoying meals and, most importantly, keeping it simple. His book is not loaded with recipes, rather he has carefully selected some of his family’s favorites. I have tried several, and they are all keepers. His "Sunday Leg of Lamb" has become our Sunday comfort food – a dish my husband and I enjoy making together, and then relaxing with a cup of tea as our home fills with an aroma that calls our family to the kitchen. He also gives advice on kitchen tools that are essential and ones that are not. I love that his book is authentic – an extension of himself and his family.

  35. KimberlyD says:

    My most cherished cookbook it my great grandma’s 1940 red checked Better Homes and Garden cookbook. I use it still. It has some great recipes.

    I learned to cook from my mother, she taught me how to cook a whole Thanksgiving meal, I cooked my first Thanksgiving meal all by myself, only asking for advice if I got stumped, at the age of 16. Oh sure I took home ec, but only thing I really remembering making is tomato soup spice cake and catching a frozen loaf of bread on fire in a microwave for I forgot to take off the bead tie! Hey it was 1983 and I never used a microwave till than…haha!

    I save recipes all the time I fine online, I am kind of obsessed with saving recipes! I also have my grandma’s metal card box, it has great hand written recipes in her hand writing, and since she passed away I love to just look at her hand writing. And my oldest cookbook is Watkins Cook Book, published in 1938.

  36. Monique says:

    Joy of Cooking for foundational concepts.

    Experimentation is OK! Spend time with another cook. Study Julia Child’s life. All very inspiring.

  37. kass says:

    Congratulations of getting married. Its a GOOD thing, marriage that is. You need to get the book SOUTHERN PLATE or go to the website. The southern girl that wrote this book could teach anyone to cook. She is pratical, funny, and shows step by step. Look her up. Christy is her name, I subscribe to her newsletter.

  38. Sandy says:

    I too love Susan Branch cookbooks,she has my favorite sugar cookie recipe it never fails to bring great reviews but I use Betty Crocker, Better Homes & Garden, Gooseberry Patch cookbooks. I am ver lucky to have had a Mother how was a Great cook and learned at a very early age to cook. I would love to get some of the cookbooks everyone metioned. I also read them like a novel. God Bless the new couple and just enjoy the trial and error with the cooking. It will come with time.

  39. Rhonda says:

    Although I’ve become quite the collector of cookbooks over the years, I didn’t learn how to cook from one. And though I have a family full of great cooks, the most important lessons came from my grandmother. Her recipes seem to forever be missing an ingredient, or a measurement, or a detail (such as oven temp). But by spending a little time in the kitchen with her, I learned that the missing elements become obvious once you learn to trust your instincts and to cook with…you got it!..LOVE! Most of my cooking these days is simply an experiment. I see what I’ve got, and throw it together. An exact replica of each meal I make is nearly impossible to recreate, because I don’t remember how much of something I used. I just added more until it smelled and tasted good. And I can’t seem to leave a recipe alone. I’m forever adding something or tweaking something to my liking.

    As for my go-to cookbooks…I have an antique store find that I grab when I’m in doubt about the basics. It’s called For the Bride, and sadly it’s out of print. (I’ve tried finding copies for gifts, to no avail) I also fall back on my Gooseberry Patch collection, local organization fund-raiser books, and recipes from The Fence Post publication. The reason for this is that they have simple ingredients, simple directions, and they’ve been tried and proven by women through the generations. They’re generally the recipes that are quick and easy to make at the end of a long day, they seldom require an ingredient that isn’t a staple in the kitchen, and if a woman has shared the recipe because their family loves it then mine is likely to love it too.

  40. Mckee says:

    I love Asheville and I love me some Tupelo Honey also!! I live about 20 min. from Asheville, I lived in downtown for about 5 yrs and I worked at Mission Hospital for over 5 yrs. Now that I have moved I miss it so! But I go back every chance I get since I am only a half hours drive away! I go to eat, and for the shindig on the green where a dear friend of mine plays with his blue grass band every weekend! I love to just sit and watch and soak in the atmosphere! I grew up in Madison County about 30 min. north of Asheville. I wouldn’t live anywhere else, except maybe east TN. You know a good cook book would be dolly partons cook book, I bought it a fews years ago, its good down home easy recipes!

  41. Carol in NC says:

    Luckily for my husband I had an old Betty Crocker cookbook that was my go- to book for years. Near the top of my favorites list now, (besides Edna Lewis of course), is The Cook and Gardener by Amanda Hesser. A delightful read!

  42. Nancy says:

    During my Wedding Shower, more than 36 yars ago, my Mom gave me a Fannie Farmer Cookbook, just like the one she had. The new ones are good, just some info is different. Then we nweed to practice….practice…practice. try things, anything that sound s good…keep track of the good one, how you might do things different next time you make the receipe. And there will be one that are NO WAY…or NEVER AGAIN..then someday you will look at yourself & think.."Great job..that’s was easier than I thought"….have fun…

  43. I didn’t start cooking until I was about 35 and into my second marriage. My husband taught me the basics. A friend introduced me to Sundays at Moosewood and that book really got me interested and I have loved cooking since. Another favorite is Chocolate and Zucchini, a lovely little book with lots of great recipes and great taste hits. I love reading and cooking from Julia Child’s books, too. My French Kitchen by Joanne Harris is another favorite. I have a couple of bookshelves of cookbooks now and really enjoy reading and experimenting in the kitchen.

  44. Heidi says:

    Another vote for "America’s Test Kitchen" and anything from Cook’s Illustrated. I have loved to cook for years but these publications and shows have made me understand "why" and have made me a much better cook. Love anything with a story to go along. Anything written by Julia Child, she loved good food so much. I also love the "Artisan Bread in 5" books, so easy, so simple and people will think you are professional! Warm bread with butter, life doesn’t get much better than that!
    I just made dinner for a dear friend whose mother passed away and they all commented that I should go into catering, problem is I agree with the "food is love" and that is why I cook.

    Love your blog, always makes me smile (or cry but a good cry!).

  45. Kimberly says:

    I have been married for almost 25 years and I am still using my Betty Crocker cook book! It is sitting on my counter and is used often just for ingredients! (I usually don’t measure!) My other favorite is a book that was made for me and it included all the favorite receipes from all my favorite people! It is priceless!!
    Good luck and just enjoy your kitchen!!

  46. Deborah says:

    I collect cookbooks, I have hundreds—and have read even more! So it kind of depends on the type of cooking she wants to do. An old vegetarian classic is Laurel’s Kitchen—it’s still the first vegetarian cookbook I recommend. One that I’ve treasured the most is a cookbook put out by the church where I grew up—I remember "dinner on the grounds" and many of the recipes in the cookbook are ones I remember from childhood.

  47. Penny says:

    I work in a library. When folks ask about cookbooks for someone who knows "nothing" about cooking I suggest they visit the Children/Young Adult floor. There they will find many basic recipes for everything to making scrambled eggs to spaghetti. There are also books with recipes from different cultures for those who want to try couscous, hummus etc.
    I always tell new cooks "If you can read you can cook!"

  48. Sharon says:

    While other cookbooks have come and gone over the years I still rely on my Good Housekeeping CookBook which has basic information on cooking for all types of meats, measurements etc. I too love to look through cookbooks and I have to recommend you check out your local library. I know I had never thought about it until last year I moved to a new town and started using tjhe local library and found they had a whole room of cookbooks. My library is always getting a copy of the newest and hottest in cookbooks so I’ve been able to check out a few I was thinking of buying to see if it would be worth the money. I love the Hungry Girl cookbooks, Alton Brown’s Good Eat’s based on his show, and The Mitford Cookbook (all the Mitford books always left me hankering for an Orange Marmalade cake and now I can make them). Have fun reading and finding your own culinary voice.

  49. Alice says:

    I would reccommend she go to youtube and check out the cooking video tutorials which anyone can learn to cook by. There are some excellent videos that show step by step what to do and how to prepare a meal or just one dish.

  50. Raynita says:

    I love cookbooks, well, they are a weakness actually. This past year I have purchased Ree’s Pioneer Woman Cooks and Christy Jordan’s Southernplate ….my daughter and I agree that we could use these two cookbooks for the rest of our lives and our lives would be full of awesome food. These books are great for seasoned cooks as well as newbies. I am so proud of these two ladies. Glad to see their books recommended by others on here…………Raynita

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