1. River Cottage Everyday by Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall
Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall is my favourite chef, primarily because he grows all of his own food and is a firm believer in ethical and seasonal eating. Everything he produces is wholesome, hearty and delicious - and usually pretty healthy. There's a part of me [buried underneath my city girl persona] that would love to grow my own food and this book certainly inspires people to do that. I also like the layout - it gives imaginative suggestions for what to eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner; no plain toast or boring sandwiches to be found here.
2. Cranks by David Cante
I'm not a vegetarian, but I do think vegetarian food is yummy. I used to pore over this book as a child and salivate at all the beautiful illustrations. The illustrations weren't always about food - though the food ones were lovely, most of the drawings would often depict people going about their lives in all seasons, and I loved that touch. I would read this book like a story book, imagining what each recipe would taste like. I once attempted to make a tomato soup from this book, but I forgot to add water [oops!] which meant that the soup very nearly got burnt...but luckily my Mum came and rescued me just in time. The saved soup tasted incredible! If I ever stop renting and get a house of my own, then I think I will buy a copy of this book just so I can look lovingly over the pictures once more, and maybe get someone else to make that soup for me.
3. Marguerite Patten's Perfect Cooking
This book is a part of my family history. My Granny gave it to my Mum, and my Mum still has it in her kitchen, and I'm sure one of us will pass it down to our children one day. It's got loads of very useful information about how to make almost anything from pancakes to peppermint creams - it's like an encyclopedia of food pre- internet. I liked the fact that if we ever wanted to make something to eat as kids, this book would have the answer. My sister ate way too many peppermint creams whenever we made them though...
This one doesn't have any pictures, but it's very easy to follow [I'm far more likely to cook something from this book than any of the other books] and the food is economical and easy to source. An excellent book for people who are beginner cooks or people who want to make something very quickly. Don't worry, it's got its fair share of nutritious, balanced food, although there are some junk food recipes too.
5. Reader's Digest One Dish Meals
My favourite thing to cook is stew, because all you have to do is bung things in a pot and leave it. This book is filled with loads of recipes that follow that principle, and best of all since you only use one dish there's less washing up!