Christie and I have fundamentally incompatible tastes in cookbooks. She likes glossy things with lots of pictures and poetic descriptions, because she wants to find things that look good and sound good, and just looking at a list of ingredients doesn't do it for her.
I, on the other hand, want good recipes, by which I mean clearly laid out, thoroughly evaluated, with at least a little bit of information about why I'm doing what I'm doing. Ideally, there should be options, so I can tweak things a little bit to fit my own needs/desires/ingredients on hand.
In practice, that generally means I want Cook's Illustrated cookbooks, but they tend to do the classy black and white thing, and are much more about technique than poetry, which doesn't deliver what Christie needs. And that's a problem, because the division of labor in our house is basically that Christie picks the menu, and I do the cooking. If that's not always the case, it's at least true that Christie has veto power over new recipes.
I was beginning to think we were doomed. But we took our stimulus check to the bookstore and sat down in the cookbook section to see what we could find.
The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook is everything both of us needed, and a fantastic resource for experience and newbie cooks alike. It's looseleaf, so it lays flat for cooking. It's well organized, and the inside covers are filled with quick references like substitution guides. Too many cookbooks are designed to be flipped through on the couch, but this one has clearly been built as a tool to be used in the kitchen.
I love this cookbook.