Cookbook better than its cover

FrontcoverBy Lewis

Another instance of not judging a book by its cover. Yep. Looks silly, doesn’t it? But it’s not bad at all.

See, about a year ago (seriously! I’m ashamed), cookbook author Renee Pottle contacted me to see if I’d be interested in reviewing her cookbook,“I Want My Dinner Now: Simple Meals for Busy Cooks.”

I said, “Sure!” I was flattered that someone who had the discipline to put out a cookbook (her second or third) wanted lil’ ol’ me take a gander at it.

It’s a good book. Is it something I’m going to use? Probably not. But I’m not the target audience. That audience is the busy parent (most likely mom) who isn’t an experienced cook, who, on top of raising the kids and a job, still needs to find time to cook a meal at home. These recipes are good, quick, and avoid time-consuming prep work that many of us pretend-chefs embark on to test our culinary chops.

Nope, this stuff is about straight ahead simplicity, quick nutritious meals. When this book calls for garlic, it just might be garlic powder—all the stuff mom used when she got home from work and was throwing stuff together for the family.

From a text standpoint, Pottle is doing something that I wish would be applied to other cookbooks: bigger type (it was nice to glance at the book while I was whipping up one of her recipes and read the words without having to stoop over) and listings of possible sides. Ever want to cook up a killer entrée and are left wondering, “Well, what would be good with this?” Also handy is, at the beginning of the book, Pottle lists pantry necessities, and with each recipe in the book, there’s a labeled “pantry items” box to draw your attention.

What did I cook from the book? I followed along her recipe for a light pasta fettuccini Alfredo (I ad-libbed a bit, since I had a bunch of other stuff to use in the fridge) and “Apple Sauced Pork Chops.” Both are solid recipes with good flavor for the time put in.

She’s got a great variety of stuff, from black beans and rice, to casseroles, to tuna steaks. She also tosses in a good mix of recipes for various appliances. There’s a quick nutrition summary and a handy glossary.

Know whom else this book would be great for? The college student, post dorm. I would have appreciated a book like this back then, although not with its current cover art. But it would be great for the student who doesn’t want to eat pizza and sub sandwiches every other meal, wants to save a little money, and who ain’t afraid to cook.

What a great idea, Ms. Pottle! Repackage the book for the college-age punks! I get 10 percent for that.

Pottle also kindly sent me a copy of an earlier cookbook she wrote, titled “The Contented Heart Cookbook,” a text to help folks lower their cholesterol. The book includes a chapter on heart healthy foods, and all recipes are constructed to be low fat and low sodium. On the read through, Pottle again provides ample information for the inexperienced home cook to provide themselves healthy meals.

Check out the Wine Barrel Gourmet site  for other things she’s got going on.

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