Monday, January 16, 2012

Wrapping Up and Up Next

This month flew by quite pleasantly, cooking-wise. There were some duds, but I'm happy with most of the recipes I've tried from Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave. I wouldn't call it health food, but healthier food. She uses whole grains and lots of vegetables and puts the more caloric ingredients--cheese, nuts, etc--up front so that it's what your eye sees first. I've said before that this is one of my most-used cookbooks, and that statement stands. My old favorites (Macaroni with Four Cheeses, Roasted Pork Loin, Balsamic Chicken with Baby Spinach and Couscous) still hold up, and I've found some tasty new recipes to add into my rotation. I feel sufficiently detoxed from the holidays, and I think that the general greaselessness of Ellie's recipes helped.

I'm a little concerned that by not revisiting many of my perennial favorites, I may have provided a skewed impression of this cookbook's offerings. Over the years, I've tested many of the recipes that most enticed me, and haven't mentioned them here: Fish Tacos with Chipotle Cream? Amazing. Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta? So good, and easy. Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo? Cozy perfection.

I strongly recommend this book. I feel good cooking from it because the food is healthy, but don't feel deprived, like I'm cooking diet food. Some of the meals err on the side of bland, but it's nothing that can't be fixed with a tweaking of the spices.

For me, it's a keeper.

I've also decided to call it quits on David Lebovitz's Ready for Dessert, primarily because I need to stop thinking about dessert so much. With this book on my mind, it's very difficult not to bake constantly, because everything looks delicious. The recipes are pretty flawless. I loved 11, I liked 14, and only 3 were just okay. I hated 1. Those are amazing results. I want to try plenty of more recipes in this book, but I'm too preoccupied with their deliciousness and need to shelve it. There's an entire ice cream section that I couldn't test out, because I don't own an ice cream machine. They look gooood, though.

If you like to bake, you need this book. If you know someone who likes to bake, you need to buy them this book. Without doubt, a keeper.

So, moving on.

This month, I'll focus on Nigella Lawson's How to Eat.

I love Nigella's easy attitude and her philosophy that cooking and good eating shouldn't be stressful. This particular book--her first--is a very annoying format. There's no organization, and huge chunks of text. I like a bit of personality in my cookbooks, but I don't want to scour chunks of text to find the recipe I want. Real recipes are titled in pink, but there are other recipes within pages of chatty essays that are identified by gray headings out in the margin. This book is hard on my eyes. It doesn't make me want to cook.

This book features a lot of stews and roasts. Cold weather food, in other words. I kept putting this book off because it's so hot here, but I've decided to explore it now, because I'm pretty sure this is as cold as it's going to get this winter. It's going to be 78 degrees tomorrow. Oy.

Also, I'm replacing Ready for Dessert in my long term projects with Jennifer Reese's Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn't Cook From Scratch.

Jennifer writes the wonderful blog The Tipsy Baker. I love her, and I mentally refer to her as "Tipsy." I'll try to refrain from calling her that here. In her book, she set out to determine what foods are worth making instead of buying, in terms of cost and difficulty. I've made it a long term project, because most of the recipes are for components, rather than whole meals. So, it's food like breads and cheeses and cured meats (I'm not sure I'm that brave. We'll see.), etc. There are some full recipes, but not many. Her book is funny, with essays about her adventures trying to raise chickens and goats and ducks. As opposed to Nigella's book, I don't mind the essays here, because everything is clearly sectioned out and labeled.

I'm excited to start. Yahoo!


  1. Oooh, you can send the recipe for fish tacos and chipotle cream my way! I'm excited to see what you decide to make from Nigella. I love all her books, except maybe her Christmas one because it uses way too many dried fruits.

  2. Yay, should be an interesting month. I am a huge Nigella fan and have made millions of her recipes, but I've never checked out this particular book. I will agree with you that her cookbooks could use a bit more organization, but I find that I really like her introductions. As with Dorie's introductions, they kind of set the tone for the recipe and give you a few helpful tips. I just love how non-Martha Stewart she is about cooking, the point being to get good food on the table and not worry overly about perfection.

    And, funnily enough I have had Make the Bread, Buy the Butter on my Amazon wishlist for a while now. I too love her blog. Happy cooking!

  3. Santa brought me Nigella Kitchen for Christmas, which I can't seem to stop flipping through. I like the intros in that book. How to Eat just makes my eyes hurt to look at it. Maybe it's b/c I have a paperback version.