Emily's 5 Essential Cookbooks
• 1. Chez Panisse Fruit by Alice Waters: I received this book as a gift when I moved to California 10 years ago, and it taught me so much about the array of fruits at my local farmers' markets – not only ways to prepare them, but also how to identify, choose, and store different varieties. A decade on, I remain deeply inspired by Waters's simple, elegant approach to seasonal cooking.
• 2. Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters: Like the title above, this is not just a cookbook but a beautiful encyclopedia. Arranged alphabetically, it celebrates each vegetable with essays, selection and storage advice, recipes, and Patricia Curtan's gorgeous linocuts. I return to Fruit and Vegetables again and again, both as bedside reading and as cooking guides.
• 3. Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers' Markets by Deborah Madison: Local Flavors was ahead of its time when it came out in 2002, and I adore Madison's enthusiasm for regional farmers' markets, her creative (mostly vegetarian) recipes, and stories from visiting with farmers around the country. The book is sensibly arranged by season, and I can always count on it to give me a spark of inspiration.
• 4. Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey by Najmieh Batmanglij: As a vegetarian, I am often adapting recipes or skipping over sections of cookbooks, so I love the fact that this volume is wide open to me. It contains a diverse mix of recipes, fascinating histories, and colorful travel and food photos from places along the ancient trade route, such as China, Uzbekistan, Iran, Turkey, and Italy.
• 5. Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving ed. by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine: Although there are prettier and more inspiring food preservation books out there, including several that have been published in the last couple of years, this is the standard, go-to resource. I replaced Ball's older Blue Book with this one and it's never far from my side when I'm canning fruits and vegetables.
Related: What Was Your First Cookbook?
(Image: Emily Ho)