My Verdict: Eat a Little Better
Cookbook Reviews / August 25, 2018

Here’s my verdict for Eat a Little Better: Great Flavor, Good Health, Better World by Sam Kass. To Read: Yes. Do you want to read stories about the author hanging out in the kitchen with the Obama girls or cooking for the president on Air Force One? Then you should read this book. Kass also writes about nutrition and food policy, but he doesn’t really hit you over the head with his opinions. To Look At: Sure. The photos are fine, but this book definitely has that hipster vibe, where the photos are toned down and are more about ingredients than the recipes. There aren’t photos for every recipe, and there is only one photo of Michelle Obama. Oh well. To Cook From: Yes. The recipes are quite simple. Kass believes in taking fresh ingredients and using spices and cooking techniques that will best highlight the ingredients. One section of the book that I found really interesting was called “Eat More Grains and Beans.” Kass takes a variety of beans and grains and provides four seasonal recipes highlighting each ingredient. Just like with vegetables I often get stuck in a rut with rice, quinoa, beans, etc., so I plan on trying…

My Verdict: Mad Hungry
Cookbook Reviews / August 10, 2018

Here’s my verdict for Mad Hungry: Feeding Men & Boys by Lucinda Scala Quinn. To Read: Yes. There are definitely some helpful hints for feeding always hungry boys, which is something I struggle with. She also tells some nice stories about cooking with her sons. What she doesn’t talk about a lot in the book is how to feed men and boys on a budget, and I think many of us struggle with feeding our kids lots of healthy food without breaking the bank. I do have one suggestion for that–lots of eggs! To Look At: Not particularly. The photography in the book is just OK, and there aren’t photos for every recipe. Also, black and white photos in a cookbook are not my favorite! To Cook From: Yes. Lucinda Scala Quinn was a contributor to the magazine Everyday Food and host of the PBS show of the same name. That was a great magazine, full of quick, family-friendly recipes. This cookbook has similar recipes. In addition to the Italian Pressed Sandwiches, I have made Stir-Fried Chinese Chicken & Peanuts and Busy-Day Chocolate Cake. Overall, I would say this cookbook has some good basic recipes, but it’s not essential. I…

My Verdict: The Beach House Cookbook
Cookbook Reviews / June 22, 2018

Here’s my verdict for The Beach House Cookbook: Easy Breezy Recipes with a Southern Accent by Mary Kay Andrews. To Read: Yes, if you are on or near a beach. Andrews writes popular novels, and she has some entertaining family stories to go along with each menu, which is how this book is organized. There are just a few descriptive sentences to introduce each recipe. Unlike a lot of cookbooks, there are no “cooking tips” or “essential tools” types of chapters. It might have been nice to have ideas about shopping and preparing to cook while on vacation. The most detailed recipe, including both the story to go with it and recipe instructions, is in the epilogue of the book, and it’s for biscuits. Not something I can see myself making while on vacation, but maybe that’s why it’s at the end. To Look At: Yes, there is a gorgeous photo for every recipe, with some family and beach photos thrown in for fun. If you are not at the beach, this book will certainly make you wish that you were. To Cook From: Probably, the recipes that I made were quite simple and didn’t even necessarily involve cooking. Personally,…

My Verdict: A New Turn in the South
Cookbook Reviews / June 12, 2018

I got a little behind with this cookbook, but here is my verdict on A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen by Hugh Acheson. To Read: Only if you are a foodie. There is a lot in here about using the right ingredients that you should order from a special place in Georgia or whatever. That is great, and I’m sure the items recommended taste wonderful. If you are just a home cook on a budget, like me, you may not have the option to pick the most expensive ingredients. I didn’t think there were a lot of interesting stories or super important cooking tips, so I would not bother reading the whole thing. To Look At: Not particularly. There are some photos for the recipes, but not for all. The photography, by Rinne Allen, is pretty muted and more artistic than instructive. The food in the photos did not jump off the page like they do in some of the other cookbooks I have reviewed. To Cook From: Yes. The two recipes I made were excellent. The directions are clear with enough information to keep the recipes from being too complex, but enough information to make it…

My Verdict: Dorie’s Cookies
Cookbook Reviews / June 1, 2018

Here’s my verdict on Dorie’s Cookies. To Read: Yes. I’m not done reading yet because there are so many recipes. Each recipe has a good story and valuable baking tips you won’t want to miss. To Look At: Yes, the photography is by Davide Luciano, and he does a good job of highlighting these cookies. Each recipe has a photo, which I really appreciate. Although the descriptions of the the cookies are well-written, if you are just flipping through and trying to pick out a cookie you wanted to make, the photos will really help. To Cook From: Yes! Each recipe is really well-detailed, with extra tips regarding ingredients and cooking methods. I think if you closely follow all the tips (which I didn’t very well with the Strawberry Shortcake Cookies), you will have success every time. While, I did really love this cookbook, I had a couple of minor critiques. First, a lot of these cookie recipes were what I would call old-fashioned. There are a lot of nuts, dried fruit, ginger, and other ingredients that might not go over great with kids. They sound yummy to me, but probably wouldn’t be a big hit with the family. Second, her…

My Verdict: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Cookbook Reviews / May 18, 2018

Here’s my verdict on The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. To Read: Definitely. Deb Perelman manages to combine cooking expertise with self-deprecating humor in a way that will make you want to try every recipe. After reading the stories that go with each recipe, I was always convinced that I must make the recipe she is describing, and that it would be successful. She has great cooking tips with the recipes,  and I loved the section on her must-have cooking tools, that is really geared for normal people with small kitchens. To Look At: Yes, there are several beautiful photos with each recipe. I think the photos, which appear to be taken in Perelman’s own kitchen, were also a factor in making each recipe seem appealing and manageable. To Cook From: Yes! I had great success with the recipes that I tried, and all of the recipes are written in a way that the reader doesn’t have to do any guessing. I really can’t wait to go back and try more of the recipes. I will be adding this cookbook to my collection at some point. Deb Perelman also has a 2nd cookbook, called Smitten Kitchen Every Day,which I hope to review…

My Verdict: Eat Like a Gilmore
Cookbook Reviews / May 11, 2018

Here’s my verdict on Eat Like a Gilmore: The Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of Gilmore Girls. To Read: Yes, if you are a Gilmore Girls fan. Each recipe description includes a reference to a story on the TV show. Even if you don’t cook, you will enjoy these descriptions. If you are not a Gilmore Girls fan, you can probably skip it. There is not a lot of additional food or cooking content in the book, except in the cake section where there are some decorating tips. To Look At: Sure. Each recipe has a photo, and they are well-done. But there is not a lot new here unless you want to see what your favorite food mentions on Gilmore Girls would look like up close, especially the beautiful cakes. To Cook From: Yes (except maybe the Santa Burger, which looks pretty gross). Besides the cocktail recipe I posted about earlier, I also made the Blueberry Muffins recipe, which was quite good. There is a pretty big range of recipes here, from basic to more exotic to just goofy. Let me know if you tried out any of the Gilmore Girls recipes. I would love to have a Gilmore Girls…

My Verdict: Run Fast. Eat Slow.
Cookbook Reviews / May 4, 2018

Here’s my verdict on Run Fast. Eat Slow. : Nourishing Recipes for Athletes. To Read: Yes, if you are an athlete or want some inspiration, but it’s not a particularly interesting read for non-runners. It is interesting to read about the real-life of an Olympic athlete, and one of the authors, Shalene Flanagan, is an Olympic medalist. But there is not a lot of depth to what they cover, just a few interesting stories about the authors’ friendship and their athletic feats. To Look At: There is not much to look at. Some of the recipes have photos, which are pretty standard. Again, if you want to be inspired to work out and eat healthy, these photos definitely serve that purpose. To Cook From: Yes, there are so many recipes here that I want to try. As I wrote earlier in the week, the recipe for Parmesan and Herb-Crusted Cod worked great. I really like that the recipes seem pretty simple, without too many ingredients that you would have to make a special trip to the health food section to get. Since I have already bought this book, I will definitely get the chance to try out more of the recipes,…

My Verdict: Butter Baked Goods
Cookbook Reviews / April 27, 2018

Here’s my verdict on Butter Baked Goods: Nostalgic Recipes From a Little Neighborhood Bakery. To Read: Yes. Not a ton of text, but a nice story about how she started her bakery. Some of the recipes have personal stories with them also. A little technique info in the front, but nothing too earth-shattering. To Look At: Absolutely. I would say that the design is pretty girlie, with a lot of pink and roses, but it’s really pretty and the photographs will make you want to bake (or eat) it all. There is a photo for almost every recipe. And it even comes with an attached ribbon bookmark. Now I want all of my cookbooks to have their own bookmark! To Cook From: I think so. The recipe I made for lemon poppy-seed muffins was easy to follow and turned out well. I really want to try a more difficult recipe before I’m sure. I guess Butter Baked Goods is really known for its marshmallows. I’ve never made marshmallows before, so I think I’m going to try those. I will let you know how it goes! I hope everyone has a great weekend and gets to enjoy some yummy baked goods!  

Salt, Fat, Heat, Acid: My Verdict
Cookbook Reviews / April 20, 2018

Here’s my verdict on Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking. To Read: Yes. Nosrat’s tone is both fun and informative, and she really knows her stuff. There is plenty of science in here, but she makes it simple and interesting. This is definitely a cookbook you can curl up with for awhile. To Look At: Yes, as long as you are OK with illustrations instead of photos. This book is illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton. The pictures aren’t just for fun, they are educational. Nosrat and MacNaughton created some great illustrations to guide you in your cooking, including “The World of Acid,” which matches different acids with food from around the world and “What Should I Cook?,” which is a flow-chart using all four elements from the title of the book. These graphics are the reason I will probably have to add this cookbook to my personal collection. To Cook With: Probably. As I said this book is not chock full of recipes. Instead there are ideas about things to cook, including some great illustrations on how ingredients go together. I did try out one of the actual recipes, Soy-Glazed Salmon (p. 311). The recipe was easy to understand…

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