Cookwise and Bakewise by Shirley O. Corriher. Seriously, we only wish we could be this smart. These two books will teach you just about everything you need to know to understand the hows and whys of cooking. The books are informative, easy to read, and incredibly user-friendly. Bakewise just arrived on our doorstep the other day and I've hardly put it down. As we've said before, it's much easier to be creative with ideas and techniques when you understand how things work in the first place. Corriher's voice is very conversational and the recipes are well thought out and thoroughly explained. Not to mention the fact that they sound delicious. She provides explanations for everything she does in a matter of fact, chatty tone. It's feels like learning how to cook from your favorite aunt, who just happens to be well versed in food science and good taste.