*All reviews by Andy, unless otherwise noted
Tacos by Mark Miller
Tacos are an awesome way to eat and this book has so many different recipes that cover just about every type of meat and plenty of veggie options as well. A couple of the ingredients are kinda hard to find and I completely failed when I tried to make the corn tortillas, but every other technique, salsa and taco this book has been top notch. The key to keeping these recipes natural is either succeeding in making tortillas from scratch or finding a tortilla that isn't made from garbage.
America by Jamie Oliver
I really like Jamie Oliver. His television show, while showcasing many of the undesirable aspects of a reality tv show, is one of the brightest examples of somebody trying to bring about a positive food change. There are a lot of awesome recipes in this book and the pictures/art direction/style/stories make it seem like more than a cook book. He has a recipe for cajun alligator on a mashed sweet potato that is absolutely amazing. And yes I subbed chicken for the alligator as I don't know of a place to buy alligator meat in Minneapolis.
The California Pizza Kitchen Cook Book
My father in law picked this up for me at a thrift store for about a dollar. Pizzas, like tacos and omelettes, are a type of food that I don't consider to have many boundaries. I have not made a single recipe from this book, but I have used the dough recipe and made pizzas out of whatever sauce, cheese and ingredients seem to be handy. The pinnacle of this was a pizza made from thanksgiving leftovers (turkey, french fried onions, fresh cranberries) and meunster cheese. If you don't care to try to recreate their trademark recipes, here is a link to their dough recipe.
Moosewood Restaurants Low Fat Favorites
This is the first cook book that I remember buying. Its got some great basics like sweet potato oven fries and garlic mashed potatos and a bunch of more complicated vegetarian and fish main dishes. Its a great book to start with and keep coming back to.
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
This book is way longer than it needed to be and Mr. Pollan kinda rambles on about a lot of things. Aside from that though, the book gave me a lot to think about in terms of where food comes from and how those systems came to be. The part about the mushroom hunters had me pretty hyped.
Eat Me by Kenny Shopsin
Kenny, the author, is a jerk. There's a documentary about him where he yells and swears and seems to regularly kick people out of his restaurant. He also has somewhere in the neighborhood of 700-900 items on his menu that he prepares more or less by himself. He has some great ways of cooking and general food philosophies. He has some excellent ideas for pancakes and soups (the mac and cheese pancakes are awesome).