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Lately I’m finding myself more and more interested in cooking. I’m more of an exact amounts kind of guy, so I started with baking. That’s going well…except for the waistlines of everyone around us. I realized one day as I obsessed over the thought of making a cream cheese pound cake, that my baking skills (while enjoyable) weren’t super useful. It was time to learn to cook actual meals…and with no schools teaching fundamentals of cooking (I’m at a super basic level) in Singapore, I had to turn to books.

After scouring the internet I narrowed the search down to two books. Both are massively thick and chock full of information. Just look at the thickness of the Stewart book compared to my iPhone.


How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman
How to Cook Everything (Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition) is a simple cookbook. There are no pictures…just 2,000 recipes. There’s basic info for each of the foods, meats, and others presented and they cover just about everything you can imagine…from very simple dishes to very complex foods. It’s a great book for sure, but for someone like me who is coming from absolute zero….well I need the pictures. The words scoring, blanching, julienne, etc might be common to most people, but I have no idea what the outcome might be.

So to compliment this wonderful encyclopedia of cooking I also optioned for:

Martha Stewart’s Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook
Martha Stewart’s Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook is big and beautiful. The photographs are amazing…detailed step by step pictures that show various cuts, techniques, etc. The book covers everything from kitchen utensils to veggies to meats to desserts…but in typical Martha fashion some get a little precious/ambitious. Often the recipes call for some very specific herb or flavor I’m not gonna find in Southeast Asia or the multi-hundred dollar Cuisinart (250 in the US, 700 SGD in Singapore). Nothing wrong with giving you a recipe to aspire too, but sometimes you don’t have the time or ingredients necessary to produce these works of art and just want a meal.

So I find both of these books the perfect compliment to each other. Using both side by side I can get an idea of what, I think, they’re talking about. If you know anyone getting started in cooking, need a wedding gift, etc I’d recommend either of these cookbooks highly, but I’d recommend them even more highly together


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