I went to an estate sale the other weekend and scored big. I found a mid-60's edition of Joy of Cooking.
What is so special about the Joy of Cooking? It's just another cookbook, right? It wasn't written by a celebrity chef. There are no glossy pictures of food in this book, just little black and white line drawings.
But it is a treasure. It is the only cookbook I know that quotes both Goethe and Saki " She was a good cook, as cooks go, and as cooks go, she went." It was written by someone who actually enjoyed being in the kitchen and is wonderfully clear. It has the best recipe for chocolate mousse I've ever had. Not only does it cover basics, like baking powder biscuits and how to make gravy, it tells you how to mix a martini and field dress a squirrel.
What more could you want?