5 Books Every Cook Should Have

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To try orange ginger roasted chicken from The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen, click here for the recipe.

When I have too much time on my hands, which is not very often, I go through little lists in my head of "If I had to choose five": my five favorite books of fiction, my five favorite pieces of art in my house, etc. Recently, I thought of my five favorite cookbooks. My lists seem to remain pretty much the same, but this one has just changed. Last week I received a copy of Rebecca Katz's new cookbook with Mat Edelson. Before I tell you the name of this book, I want to tell you how impressed I was with it.

I have been writing this article in my head for days and finally can put pen to paper. Last Friday was the final day of Fall Pilgrimage, and I was able to retire my heavy hoop skirt. When Saturday came I was able to wear something I am much more comfortable in: an apron. Having an audience of eight for a fall evening cooking class, I decided to discuss some of my thoughts with my guests as we made a savory Creole fish stew. After reading more of the book and talking titles with my guests, within two days I have gone from the idea of calling this article "cooking to cure," emphasizing breast cancer awareness month, now to "five books every kitchen should have."

Finding the best Junior League books would follow the same rule as ordering sweet tea: Never order one from a state that does not have an SEC team.

I am not abandoning the importance of this month being Breast Cancer Awareness Month. On the contrary, I am trying to reach more people. There is not one person reading this article who has not already been touched by cancer. If we don't have a family member, then it is a co-worker or a best friend, or a neighbor. This is why I have put this book on my list of books I will always have in my kitchen. Although this book is titled The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen: Nourishing, Big Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery, I am telling you, it is so much more. It is a culinary Rx reference and an encyclopedia of food to help with many ailments.

I think every mother can use this book just to nurture her family when they have common colds, flus, and routine ailments. Every friend can use it to prepare something for other friends when they are ailing. Most importantly, it has recipes that are truly appealing and make you hungry when you read them. The author refers to that as the "yum factor".

As I read this book I was wishing I had it before now. I have two sisters that have had breast cancer (both in remission, thankfully) and now my mother has another form of cancer. Trying to care for someone going through treatment to me is like walking in a minefield. As much as I love to cook and to nurture everyone I love, I am fearful of preparing something that might make them feel worse instead of better. This book frees me from that. Already I feel more knowledgeable and inspired.

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Regina Charboneau is the owner of Twin Oaks Bed & Breakfast in Natchez, Mississippi. She is the author of Regina's Table at Twin Oaks. More

Regina Charboneau is the owner of Twin Oaks Bed & Breakfast in Natchez, Mississippi. She is the author of two cookbooks: A Collection of Seasonal Menus & Recipes from Regina's Kitchen and Regina's Table at Twin Oaks.

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