As some of you know, before I started Tempest Books, I ran a recipe blog. It was fun, but I think I’ve really found my niche with book blogging. But sometimes I miss talking about food! I love to cook, try out new restaurants, and browse cookbooks, but that stuff isn’t really part of my blogging experience anymore. But today I’m going to combine my love for food AND books by reviewing a couple cookbooks 🙂
Back in December, I made some reading goals for myself. One of those goals was to read 1 cookbook each month in 2014. So, now that it’s June, I have 6 mini reviews of each of the cookbooks I’ve read this year so far! (Click on the cover image to go to the book’s Goodreads page.)
Read: January 2014
(Whoops, this one’s not so mini!)
I’d never heard of the Moosewood Restaurant before I randomly came across this cookbook a couple of months ago, but I was eager to check out this collection of their favorite recipes when I realized that it was all organic vegetarian fare. I’m not a vegetarian, but I once was at one point, and therefore can seriously appreciate the lifestyle. I now try to cook a vegetarian meal at least once a week, and am always looking for more creative recipes to add to my repertoire specifically for those nights.
While I loved the ingenuity of some of these recipes, and very much enjoyed reading about the history of the restaurant and it’s interesting set-up as a collaborative company, this didn’t become a favorite cookbook of mine. I found a few recipes that I’m eager to try out, but the whole thing seemed more geared towards beginner chefs and fans of the restaurant rather than somebody who’s genuinely interested in finding new and interesting combinations of ingredients. But they did do a good job in being geared towards that certain audience. Ideas and directions were described in-depth, with a generous glossary of particular foods and instructions on how to cook things like tofu in the back of the book. I appreciated the hard work that obviously went into this cookbook, but those things just weren’t really what I was looking for. Perhaps a different Moosewood cookbook (I’ve heard there are several) would’ve been better suited for me, I don’t know.
This cookbook includes a lot of recipes for things like salad dressings, sauces, and desserts, which isn’t really what I’m personally interested in. And a generous amount of things like “corn chowder,” for which I’ve seen a million and a half tired, old recipes for. There were definitely a few gems in there, but it took a lot of digging through this monstrous book to actually find them.
I was also disappointed with the lack of photography. I like best when most, if not all, of the recipes in cookbooks are illustrated. I have trouble envisioning what a recipe will look like without that crucial visual aid, and I end up having to spend extra time skimming each recipe in order to come up with an idea of what I think each dish will turn out like. It wastes my time and is very unhelpful. And even the recipes that were photographed weren’t done so all that well. An amateur effort, but I guess better than nothing.
All in all, I’d whole-heartedly recommend this cookbook to a beginner vegetarian home cook or somebody who’s interested in making the specific recipes from this apparently famed restaurant…but for anybody else, it’s really not worth it.
Read: February 2014
This book had a great balance between vegetarian and meat-included meals. There was also a good mix of regular recipes and some fun, new stuff that I wanted to try out. I also liked how they included a lot of helpful information and charts, like how to grill different kinds of vegetables.
I wish that there had been less of a focus on desserts and WAY more pictures. In order to save costs, the book has an insert of a few glossy recipe pictures in the middle of the book, but doesn’t have any pictures with the recipes themselves. I prefer my cookbooks to have lots and lots of pictures, so that was pretty disappointing.
Overall, I liked it a lot, though. I thought that the idea of labeling recipes to fit certain needs (i.e. high fiber, low-carb) with a clarifying chart in the back was really helpful. There were a lot of really good recipe ideas and they all seemed to be pretty good for you and well-rounded.
Read: March 2014
This book was such an eye-opener! Although I haven’t personally experienced the benefits the FastDiet achieves (yet!), I’m definitely a believer in intermittent fasting after reading this book. A couple people mentioned this type of eating to me recently, and when I saw that there was a book all about the Diet itself, I knew that I had to read it. Going in, I was pretty skeptical, but there was just so much clear evidence on the side of intermittent fasting that I couldn’t help but be swayed. And I’m really interested in trying it out for myself!
I can’t help but worry that people will use the guise of this diet to unhealthily fast and lose weight, but if you stick to the system that Dr. Mosley outlines, it’s truly more of a lifestyle change than a weight loss system (although weight loss is obviously a benefit from it as well). I can’t wait to get started and see if this works for me, too! I love the idea of how easy it would be to simply just not eat (except for 500 calories) on the fast days, and then not have to worry about dieting at all on the other days!
At first it does sound kind of crazy…but after reading this book, I’m a true believer that this can work and is something that would actually be really good for the body. It’s one of the only diets I’ve ever come across that seems sustainable, and it’s an incredibly easy way to live — no endless calorie counting and passing up brownies! Even if this diet doesn’t end up being successful for me (although I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t), it was still a surprisingly educational piece of literature that I’m glad I decided to read.
Read: April 2014
Great cookbook! Although I was disappointed by its complete lack of pictures and expected, because of that, not to like this cookbook very much…I was pleasantly surprised by how many recipes I found myself bookmarking!
Lots of great ideas and fresh new ways to cook vegetarian meals. I’m not vegetarian myself, but do try to limit my intake of meat, so I found quite a few awesome recipes that I can’t wait to try out with my slow cooker!
Read: May 2014
I have a weird reaction to Bayless’ cookbooks. They’re so cool, but I still have yet to make a single recipe from either of the two that I’ve read. I think it’s because I find the recipes more interesting and kind of educational rather than something I’d actually make — whether it be because of weird ingredients I wouldn’t know where to buy or because the difficulty level is rather high.
I love Mexican food, especially authentic Mexican food, but I’m not sure that I’m all that enticed to actually make some for myself. Isn’t it just so much better from an authentic Mexican restaurant? Where I don’t have to do any of the work? Thank God I’m lucky enough to have quite a few here in Rhode Island.
So I’m not really sure what to make of this cookbook. I really liked it…but I don’t think I’ll ever make any of the recipes. I guess I just don’t feel all that passionate about learning how to cook Mexican food — I’m more of an Asian & Italian girl. But I’d still highly recommend it to people who are interested in Mexican cuisine, learning more about the food, and who actually want to legitimately make authentic Mexican cuisine in their homes.
Read: June 2014
I will be the first person to tell you that I’m not a huge fan of Ina Garten. If she’s on the television, I will immediately change the channel. I’m not sure why her personality grates on me so much (although at least she’s not as bad as Paula Deen!), but I’ve just never really gotten into the whole “Barefoot Contessa” thing for some reason.
But…this is probably the best cookbook that I’ve read all year. I can’t quite pinpoint exactly what I loved about it — it just seemed like it was kind of made for me. I loved the beautiful, modern, playful layout; the colorful gorgeous photographs; and all of the recipes seemed like things that I would love to make. I almost kind of want to do a “Julia and Julia”-type thing and go through this, making every single recipe! What more can I say? This is exactly the type of cookbook that I’ve been looking for for months, and I can’t believe that I finally found it in Ina Garten! I was so impressed by it that I actually want to go out and get my own copy to keep!
I’m not sure why I was never interested in her before, but let me tell you — I’m definitely going to be checking out more of her cookbooks after reading this one!