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Book Review: Fresh Flavor Fast

September 13, 2011

I have long wanted to include book reviews on my blog (I originally considered calling it Birds, Books, and Baking) so I am finally starting that.  You will be able to find all my reviews, or posts that refer to books, under the “Bookshelf” tab near the top.

I have a habit of gravitating towards the cookbook section of the library, and frequently have several checked out.  I generally avoid celebrity cookbooks but there weren’t many options in the Shaunavon library this summer, so I checked out Everyday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast (from the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living.)  I didn’t have time to try any recipes at the time, but it looked good enough that when I saw it again in the Mackenzie library I took it out again.  Martha and I seem to have a similar cooking philosophy.

(the marigolds are from my mum’s garden, she brought them when her & Dad came to visit on the weekend)

This book includes 250 recipes from breakfast to sandwiches to main courses to side dishes to dessert.  There is an emphasis on cooking with fresh, seasonal, and minimally-processed foods.  There are a sizable number of vegetarian (or easily-made into vegetarian) recipes (and the recipes featuring meat generally look very good as well.)  Each recipe includes a photo, and the nutritional information for each recipe is listed near the back of the book.

Lacking an oven and trying to keep my grocery purchases to a minimum, my recipe choices are limited, but I have tried four of them so far.  I have made the Lentils with Carrots and Spinach, Cherries with Cinnamon Dumplings (substituting blueberries, which wasn’t the best idea), and Sweet-Potato Pancakes, plus the Swiss Chard with Raisins and Pine Nuts inspired my rainbow chard recipe.  They were all good, and I would be happy to make them all again.  There are many more recipes that I would love to try including the Eggplant and Mozzarella Melts; Orange, Roasted Beet, and Arugula Salad; Asian Salmon Patties; and the Mexican Ice Cream Sundaes with Cinnamon-Chocolate Sauce. (I could keep listing recipes but you get the idea!)

I did notice that sometimes recipes aren’t quite clear.  For example, with the dumpling recipe, it said to put the fruit in a skillet with a tight-fitting lid, but it wasn’t clarified if one was to put the lid on immediately or only later when one added the dumplings.  The lentil recipe called for olive oil but it wasn’t stated in the directions when it was to be added.  But for the most part the instructions appear to be straight-forward and  easy to follow.

I think the “fast” part of the title is a bit misleading.  In the introduction Martha states that the recipes that can be prepared the fastest have a clock symbol.  But the Walnut-and Dried-Fruit Granola, which has a 10-minute prep time symbol, also says it takes a total of 1 hour and 35 minutes, when you take into consideration the baking and cooling time (and the baking time involves attention every 12-15 minutes, so it isn’t like you can walk away and get too involved in another task.)  Regardless, I still want to try that recipe.

I will be signing this recipe book out again once I get to Vancouver Island this winter.  I also think that it would also be a good gift for someone who likes to cook a little bit fancy.

Found any good cookbooks lately?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 13, 2011 8:56 pm

    I haven’t had time to look at cookbooks too much, but I have been loving the Uncheese cookbook lately. I made this great Zucchini “Cheddar” soup last weekend. I froze about 7 servings in individual jars and have been eating them at lunch at my desk at school. I love that about the fall. Soups are easy to make a crap-ton of and then freeze for later. This one was especially perfect because HELLO my zucchini won’t die.

    Also, bookshelf tab? Copycat. :D I’m kidding. I love it!!

  2. September 16, 2011 7:12 pm

    I have been using the Joy of Cooking a lot lately. I have the 75th anniversary edition. I find that it pretty much has everything I want to cook in it these days. Waffles? Check. Crepes? Check. Cornmeal muffins? Check. Something with cranberries? Check. I also have a Better Homes & Gardens cookbook that I like for it’s variety of recipes and lots of pictures. I prefer cookbooks that have a photo of everything. If I wrote a cookbook, there would be a photo of everything in it, not just some stuff. I now have out all my Taste of Home cookbooks too, but I have yet to make anything out of either of them.

  3. Julian (the other bander) permalink
    September 28, 2011 5:21 pm

    The editor in me has to comment…first line, third paragraph…”recipes are quite clear”, should (not) it be “recipes are not quite clear”?

    • September 28, 2011 6:42 pm

      Thanks, Julian, you’re right! And that made me notice that I used the word “clear” three times in that paragraph, so I fixed that too! ;)

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