These 6 books I always have on hand for reference. Though I find life without the internet especially difficult, I am old enough to remember life without cell phones and laptops, and I find going to something in print for recipes second nature. Growing up, the staples in our house were the Fanny Farmer Cookbook & The Joy of Cooking. I had The Joy of Cooking up until 4 years ago when I left it at a friends house. I just never recovered it after a wild night of recipe experimentation and 3 bottles of Spanish wine. It was a soft cover copy and filled with stale, decade old flour, gravy, spices from around the globe and enough oil and water damage to make it almost unreadable. It was a good old dog. As for the Fanny Farmer, I’m pretty sure my father still has it.
Nowadays the first volume of Julia Child’s The Art of French Cooking and my CIA The New Pro Chef fill my need for classic french preparations and techniques, while my The New Spanish Table is used more on a daily basis. I figure the weather and produce in Santa Barbara are so similar to what you find in Spain that most of the ingredients listed in this book are easily attainable and recipes mastered.
I can’t go a week without looking at the Food Lovers Companion to figure out a food term on a menu I’ve seen somewhere or to discuss a new special at work. The other two reads are my Great Beers of Belgium by the legendary Michael Jackson and Mark Kurlansky’s The Big Oyster. Of course there of periphery reads and daily visits to the same websites for updates, but nothing beats a tried and true, in print recipe from one of these 6 books.