Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wrapping up The Best International Recipe

I'm ready to call it on The Best International Recipe and move on to something with more vegetables. Cooking from this book is like dating a really nice guy who you're just not attracted to. There's nothing to be done for it. For the most part, the recipes are fine, but they're not delicious or memorable. Without scrolling back through my posts to jog my memory, the only two standout dishes I can think of are the scones and the colcannon soup (and the spaetzle Matt made prior to the book's inclusion in the blog).

I don't know if it's because the whole concept of America's Test Kitchen is to analyze every little thing about a recipe and tweak it and tweak it until it's "perfect," but, for me--and I know that there are staunch ATK supporters out there who will disagree--this food has no soul. You can almost tell it was created in a laboratory, far removed from the personal influence and experience that gives a good book's food its unique spark. I feel like I'm missing something with the whole ATK phenomenon, because people are really adamant in their support for them. It's not them, it's me. Maybe.

Anyway, the short of it is that my shelving real estate is far too precious to be wasted on a book of "good enough" dishes. If I had all the space in the world, I'd probably keep this one and whip it out once or twice a year to try something new. Given my space limitations here, and in whatever house I have to move to every two to three years as our duty stations change, I'd rather fill my shelves with books that bring special food to my table. I'm going to toss it, right after I photocopy that spaetzle recipe.

Up next: So Easy by Ellie Krieger. I adore Ellie's previous book--The Food You Crave. Prior to this blog, I can say with full confidence that this was the one and only book that I cooked from over and over again. She makes healthy, nutritious food that actually tastes good. REALLY!

I found Ellie when my cousin had me over for dinner and cooked her mac and cheese (with butternut squash puree mixed in. It's delicious). It was so good that I went home from the meal and immediately ordered The Food You Crave. It wasn't until I received the book and saw the Food Network stamp on cover that I even knew Ellie had a show and was, I guess, a "celebrity chef." I've never seen her show, so, personally, I don't count her among the Giadas and Bobby Flays, because her personality and presentation have nothing to do with why I love her. She holds up on her own.
Easy will be a nice change of pace.
Because I'm such a fan of The Food You Crave, I pre-ordered So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week when Amazon alerted me to its existence. I was super-excited to get the book, until I opened it. I can't put my finger on what the problem is. Even now, the recipes just didn't inspire me to cook. To date, I've cooked exactly nothing from it. Time to change that. Worst case scenario, it'll get more vegetables into me. Fingers crossed, here we go...

Oooh, Amazon just informed me that I can pre-order her newest book. Refrain, Eileen! Refrain! Break the cycle! ha!


  1. You know, it's funny you mention the "laboratory" like taste of the ATK foods. For some reason, it seems more enjoyable to do your own testing than having someone else tell you "This was the best, hands-down." Everyone's palatte is different, so "perfected" recipes can be a bit bland to suit everyone.

  2. Couldn't agree more, yummychunklet!

  3. I am curious to see how you make out with this one - I have found that some of Ellie's recipes I love and some are "meh". (She does have one for edamame hummus that I am pretty fond of - although I must confess that I have tweaked it).
    And - agreed - sometimes ATK's recipes do come off as having the life blood sucked out of them... Good luck!

  4. Ha! Great analogy between the cookbook and the really nice guy :) Can't wait to see the next batch of dishes!