1. The 99 Cents a Meal Cookbook, by Ruth and Bill Kaysing. This is not your ordinary thrifty cookbook, there are no coupon tips or "shop for a month" chiding here. These two are hard-core, they suggest buying a hundred pound sack of wheat from a grain wherehouse and grinding your own flour in your food processor. (They do like food processors and blenders, thank god they aren't anti-technology, because it takes a lot of work to do things by their plan.) They also, not suprisingly, support growing vegetables and catching your own fish. Too bad there's not a diagraim for how to gut them. That would be handy for neophyte back to the land-ers.
Despite all this, a lot of the food is good, if you like whole grains and beans (I do). There are good recipes for homemade soy milk and tofu, and how to grow your own sprouts. Plus it's a fun, rambling read. They are getting on in years, which may be why they tend to repeat themselves. If you find a copy of this, buy it. It's entertained me for almost ten years.
2. Cooking For Your Evil Twin, by Ann Wall Frank. A humorous book of recipes dedicated to taming the female wild side of every girl's personality. It's fairly sexist humor, assuming that all women are really nice girls with a barely contained destructive impulse that needs to be tamed with sugar. But you know what? It's still funny. I'll take a little sexism if it comes with recipes for chocolate caramels. I'm weak.
3. The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook (1963 edition). It's amazing what a few decades distance can do to what was once perfectly acceptable food-it makes it look incredibly weird. This is early 60's middle of the road food, with a healthy dose of "now, this is what a good housewife does" nagging. I love how they don't pretend their ethnic food is in any way authentic-one menu is titled "Somewhat Italian". (Note: now I adore my 1962 Betty Crocker cookbook and think it's a great general source. This one is less useful, because it strives to be "fancy", which makes it a lot more outdated.)
4. Cookin' Southern, Vegetarian Style, by Ann Jackson. Okay, I love this cookbook. I use it all the time, and I think Ann is a great storyteller and a cooking genius. But it is odd. She has a whole chapter of "Trailer Park Specials", done veggie style. She subsitutes umboshi plums for salt pork (they are salty enough). She has a whole pantry devoted to her glass and ceramic bowl collection. This is one cookbook author I would love to meet, she would be a hoot.
5. The Bad For You Cookbook, by Chris Maynard and Bill Scheller. This one has a recipe for scrapple. It calls for a fifteen pound hog's head. My vegetarian cookbooks want to kill this one and make an example of out it. Hilarious, often pretty good recipes with an eye toward excess. The ethnic chapter is probably the best, but breakfast is good too.
6. The Cookbook For People Who Love Animals, no author given, but dedicated to Jay and Freya Dinshah. This is the most militant of my veggie cookbooks. Most of the vegetarian cookbooks I have are mellow, live and let live, with recipes calling for dairy, eggs, sometimes even fish. Not this one. It's hardcore vegan and was put together in the early 80's, so it's kind of a vegan pioneer. It's also full of preachy quotes about animal rights and suffering. There are some good stir-fries and soup recipes in here, and more instructions on making your own soy products. Good cookbook, but I may give it to a vegan in need.
7. Grandma's Wartime Kitchen, by Joanne Lamb Hayes. This cookbook is dedicated to the 1940's wartime rationing cookery. This is one of my favorite times in history, and I believe this cookbook is reasonably authentic. I haven't actually made most of these, but I love reading them. There are chapters on meat rationing (recipes for organ meats), Victory Garden canning, sugar rationing, fats and butter, and "after the war"-things that were still made once the bad times were over. This is just a lot of fun.
8. Fashionable Food, Seven Decades of Food Fads, by Sylvia Lovegren. This is in my top ten favorite cookbooks. It's food history, and covers from the 1920's until today. Reading the fashionable recipes of the 20's, you wonder why people didn't die of marshmallow poisoning. Some of the recipes from the fifties and early sixties also bring new meaning to the word "processed". This is a must read-find it in your library, or buy it-it was recently republished.