I truly believe that there is no greater gift for someone who is living on their own for the first time than this all-purpose cookbook. With recipes ranging from very easy to extremely challenging, it shows a wide range of techniques while leaving room for the cook to be creative.
Each chapter is based on a specific type of food, (i.e grains, vegetables, pastries, meat, poultry, fish) and includes background information as well as diagrams. Of particular interest to me were the diagrams of animals which showed where each cut of meat is taken from. The chapter on fish also does an excellent job with its pictures and characteristic descriptions.
When I moved into my first apartment with a kitchen, my dad gave me one of his copies of this book and it really provided a great foundation for me in regards to the fundamentals of cooking. It was also a wonderful reference to use when ever I found myself stuck on a certain recipe.
This cookbook is more than just recipes. It's chock full of helpful tips for kitchen preparation, pan/pot care, safely storing perishable foods, and has an especially good sense of the history and origins of certain types of food.