I've found that the act of merely reading a cookbook will make you a better cook. It's a lot like looking at a fashion magazine. You get ideas. Trust your mind to store enough elements of that spicy Spanish rice recipe and trust it to remember the way the Italians threw an egg in the middle of some dough to make egg noodles. I have a whole shelf full of cookbooks and you may too. There is no way that I have the time to make all the tantalizing recipes in those books but I do have the time to now and again put my feet up and read about how others spend their time in the kitchen. What spices do they use? How high do they turn up the oven up for desserts? What fruits do they throw into salads and what type of greens do they use? When you're cruising through the produce isles, a red light will go off and you'll grab that green pepper for stew, the mango for salad and the sweet potatoes for a different piecrust.
Suellen Ocean is the author of Poor Jonny's Cookbook available at Amazon, B&N and Ocean-Hose.