Here is a list of some of the basic cooks that are perfect for the beginner as well as make great reference guides for the experienced baker and/or cook.
This is the cookbook I use the most. Some of the pages are even falling out. There's quite a large section of what you need to know before cooking from how to read a recipe to all about spices.
Here's another great reference and basic cookbook for your kitchen. I like the three-ring binder format of this book. You can just take out the page you need. (Note: Not to worry, most of the recipes in this version are from scratch. Although, there are some of the Bake-Off recipes in there too.)
Don't let the name fool you. There's more than traditional U.S. southern cooking in this book. The recipes are written for the everyday household, nothing too fancy but a step-above the rest. I consider all of the Southern Living Cookbooks
to be on the line of your traditional community cookbooks. The big difference between a community cookbook and a Southern Living Cookbook
is that the recipes are tested over and over again by the Southern Living kitchens. The The All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook
has a sampling of recipes from all of their previous cookbooks plus a few more.