The Heat in the Kitchen? Psh… You Can Handle It.

Meryl Streep makes us feel generally less accomplished.  Last night alone, nine-out-of-ten presenters and acceptance speeches mentioned her iconic status as a Renaissance woman capable of doing no wrong, her dress was the very picture of glamour and sophistication, and she was nominated for playing a woman who could teach literally anyone to cook.  It’s enough to make you look at your empty refrigerator and your closet full of jeans with disdain.

You may not have a black tie event in the near future at which you’ll be lauded even as you lose the award, but one way you can make yourself a little more accomplished is by learning your way around a kitchen.  Let’s start by discussing cookbooks – after all, practice makes perfect, but without knowing how to boil an egg what is there to practice?

If Julia Child’s enormous Mastering the Art of French Cooking is slightly intimidating, perhaps start with Breakfast, Lunch, Tea by Rose Carrarini who owns some of Paris and London’s most loved bakeries including Rose Bakery and Villandry.  It’s full of popular options for light lunches, simple yet delicious breakfasts, and helps you overcome your fear of baking.

If you’re a paesan who can’t cook (and thus risks being disowned by a traditional Italian family), try Stir: Mixing It Up in the Italian Tradition by Barbara Lynch or really take the bull by its horns with the tome adored by many an Italian home cook: The Silver Spoon.

While vegan-Angelenos employ the recipes found in Skinny Bitch in the Kitchen (which should also have the subtitle: how to be perpetually hungry), the rest of us Californians turn to Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food to reignite our love of fresh, simple, healthy California cuisine.

For those who’d rather discuss the difference between 70% and 85% bittersweet cocoa bars, Chocolate by Trish Deseine is your new best friend.  We’re also partial to the New York Times Dessert Cookbook.