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Basics

I was saddened today to learn that Sheila Lukins, co-author of the Silver Palate and New Basics cookbooks, has passed away.

Shortly after graduating from college, I decided it was time to move beyond ramen noodles and microwaved hot dogs. I’d always enjoyed cooking–and I was perfectly competent in the kitchen–but my repertoire was limited, to say the least. The New Basics was one of my first cookbooks. Now that I think of it, it was probably my only cookbook for a while. It was full of bold flavors and reinterpreted classics. It opened my eyes to what cooking could be. And of course, it covered the basics, too. It was my go-to cooking reference for years. The Joy of Cooking always seemed archaic and impenetrable to me back then. Basics was my Joy.

Though there are still a few recipes I come back to again and again (corn chowder, an amazing meatloaf…), I’ve largely moved on from The New Basics. Cook’s Illustrated, Alton Brown, and Mark Bittman have collectively changed the way I think about cooking. When I cooked from Basics, I was nervous about the slightest deviation from the recipe; now it’s rare for me to follow any recipe that strictly. But I never would have arrived where I am now without Sheila Lukins and The New Basics. Thanks, Sheila. vdsg2r4khi