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The Joy of Cooking

Arguably one of the most important books in American cuisine, Irma Rombauer's Joy of Cooking ($35) holds a special place in many households. This book changed the way many women approached cooking at home, as it emphasized freshness, convenience, and simple recipes, like beef Wellington and homemade ice cream. Techniques like knife skills are emphasized, and the new version includes a section on 30-minute meals. Chances are your grandmother had a copy of it on her bookshelf, so why shouldn't you?