Ask Me Anything: Best Cookbooks for Kitchen Newbies | Insuring Fine Jewelry

Here it is, another episode in our Ask Me Anything series where I reach into my virtual mailbag and pull out letters with questions and topics that have the likelihood of universal appeal. 

Best Cookbooks for Kitchen Newbies

Dear Mary: My grandson is getting married soon, and neither he nor his fiancé can cook. Could you please recommend a good all-purpose cookbook AND a microwave cookbook for newlyweds who will have a very tight and limited budget? I’m thinking this would be a useful and practical wedding gift. Thank you for your time in answering my question. It is much appreciated. Connie R.

Dear Connie: This is so much fun for me because I feel like I have a captive audience in your kiddos, and a generous giver in you.

I love, Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen Cookbook: 100 + Great Recipes with Foolproof Instructions, by Nancy Mills and her son Kevin Mills. It’s written in college-student speak, so your kids should find it reader-friendly and not at all intimidating. And it hits on the basics like Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, French Toast, Baked Salmon with Garlic, and al Dente Asparagus, to name just a few.

More than just recipes, this book includes “How Tos,” like how to peel garlic, how to get the whole meal on the table at once, what to do with leftovers, and on it goes. This book is a gem. It was first published in 1996, but has been updated and revised since.

My original tattered copy is a testament to how I have used it myself and learned a great deal. Perhaps my favorite chapter of all, is “Foods to Keep on Hand So You Won’t Starve.”

As for a microwave cookbook, you can’t beat, Not Your Mother’s Microwave Cookbook: Fresh, Delicious and Wholesome Main Dishes, Snacks, Sides, Desserts, and More, by Beth Hensperger.

The author characterizes her recipes as  Homemade Fast Food, which is so compelling, I predict your kids will be quick learners as soon as they discover all they can do with a microwave oven.

Inside they’ll find recipes with instructions for everything from Hot Dips to Eggs, Rice, Fish, Poultry, Savory Sauces, and Sweet Treats.

I wish your grandchildren much joy and happiness. Your gift will surely promote that because I believe there’s something about well-prepared food that brings hearts and souls together.



Insuring Fine Jewelry

Dear Mary: I’ve been reading your columns, posts and books since I was a college student. You kept me motivated to pay off my college and then my grad school loans, so thank you.

I’m newly married and have a question about insurance for wedding rings. I know for other extended warranties you generally recommend that people stash the money into a bank account instead, but would this also apply to insuring fine jewelry?

My engagement ring is valued at about $30,000 and it would cost about $600 a year to insure. Should I be storing $600 year into a bank account instead of paying it to an insurance company? Thank you for your always helpful advice! Kay K.


Dear Kay: Your question reminds me of one of my undeniable truths of life: The price tag does not always reflect the true cost.

For example, the price tag of a lovely suit has to include the cost of dry cleaning it for its useful life. The cost of a new puppy soars when you consider vet bills, food, equipment, and grooming. And in your case, the cost of fine jewelry is increased by the cost of insurance.

Insuring your rings is not the same as taking out an extended warranty. You have an investment here, and wisdom demands that your fine jewelry be insured against loss if you can afford it. And by afford, I mean you have an emergency fund, are not carrying unsecured debt, and can pay these insurance premiums without going into debt.

Make sure you shop well for this insurance. You’ll need to get a certified appraisal, making sure that you read all of the fine print on the insurance policy before you accept it. Know the limitations, and understand what constitutes a covered loss.

Before you go insurance shopping, check any insurance you have already. You may discover that you have coverage already through your homeowners or renters insurance, requiring only a rider that schedules this jewelry specifically and for a very reasonable additional premium!

Thanks for your kind words, and congratulations on being such a good EC student and paying off all of your college debt!

Everyday Cheapskate participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program and other affiliate programs as well, designed to provide a means for us to earn from qualifying purchases at no cost to you. If you click through some links in this post and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks! 


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8 replies
  1. Betty Russell says:

    Thank you Mary for the floor solution formula. Your cabinet door with the spice attachment caught my eye because i have trouble finding my spices when needed. This looks like the answer. Can you tell me where to find one like yours? Thanks, Betty

  2. Jan says:

    Two great questions! Thanks for the links to the cookbooks. And I, too, am thrilled to hear that some people are taking responsibility and actuallly paying off their own student debt rather than waiting for the government to forgive it. Good for Kay!!!!!

  3. Suzanne says:

    I just wanted to add my agreement with insuring fine jewelry. Over the last 30 years I’ve lost a diamond tennis bracelet and diamond anniversary ring and experienced the theft of my engagement ring. Recently the large center stone of my diamond wedding band fell out; I recovered it but extensive repairs were needed to make it wearable again. All of those pieces but the bracelet were covered by insurance. And losing that is why I decided that a rider to our homeowners policy was needed. It gives a lot of peace of mind for the money. Fine jewelry is an investment, as you said. And all investments should be protected.

  4. Linda D Radosevich says:

    I’d like to make a suggestion to Connie R., who asked for suggestions for cookbooks for her soon-to-be-married grandson. In addition to what Mary said, make a personal cookbook of their favorite family recipes, handwritten if possible. Not only will it give them recipes that they already love, but looking at the handwriting will bring you to mind. I still have handwritten recipes from my aunts that I love to look at.


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