Tag Archive for 'cooking memoir'

Book Review: Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Relish cover imageLucy Knisley is a graphic artist who also writes about food, travel and life in general. She grew up with parents who not only loved to eat good food, but who gave it to their daughter from the beginning. Knisley combines her artistic ability with the story of her childhood and early adult adventures with eating and cooking in her graphic novel, Relish: My Life in the Kitchen.

Knisley’s stories of her early life in Manhattan and her days spent on a farm in upstate New York are interesting. She’s got a sense of humor and a down to earth writing style that’s endearing. For instance, she talks about the gourmet food her parents cooked for her, but she also talks about her cravings for junk foods and McDonald’s fries. Her story of being on her own in Mexico with her good friend while their moms were sick is really funny, and so is her story of trying to make the perfect croissants like the ones she remembers eating in Venice.

Each chapter ends with a recipe relevant to the story that came before it. My favorite was “Tough Cookie,” where Knisley tells of learning how to bake chocolate chip cookies as a way to make friends every time she moved to a new school. The recipe that follows is called, “The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies,” and since I tried it out myself I can say that’s no exaggeration. There are a couple of “secret ingredients” that deviate from my normal cookie recipe, and that made the finished product so yummy.

There are other recipes I plan to try, like those for sautéed mushrooms, huevos rancheros and spaghetti carbonara. I can recommend Relish as a light-hearted, interesting memoir that’s fun to read and keep for the recipes.

The publisher provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School cover image

I already like to cook, and most of the time I think I do a pretty good job whipping up things in the kitchen. So when I started to read The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks by Kathleen Flinn, I thought I would enjoy her story but not find much to learn about cooking. From the first chapter, I knew I was wrong.

Flinn’s narrative about working with 10 women who didn’t feel comfortable in the kitchen is fascinating on many fronts. It all started with Flinn’s encounter with a woman in a grocery store who was buying mostly boxed foods to prepare at home, because she didn’t feel she could cook anything that would taste as good. From there she recruited 10 volunteers who opened up their pantries and fridges to Flinn, then prepared her something they would often cook. The lessons that followed were geared toward novices, but they hold something worthwhile for experienced cooks as well.

The volunteers learned everything from how to hold a knife and chop vegetables, to how to cut up a chicken, use leftovers, make soup and more. Each chapter of the book recounts the lesson and comes with recipes at the end. Flinn’s style is conversational, and she includes little bits of fascinating information about cooking and food throughout the story.

I found myself reading passages out loud to my husband and checking my own cupboards each time Flinn went through a new lesson. And I was inspired to make several of the recipes even while I was reading the book. Things I previously thought were too much trouble to make, like chicken stock and homemade bread from scratch, Flinn demystifies and makes easy. I really enjoyed taking the opportunity of getting out of my rut in the kitchen and learning new things that I believe will serve me for a long time to come.

I’m keeping my copy of The Kitchen Counter Cooking School right alongside my Joy of Cooking and my Cajun cookbooks. I’m also planning to give this as a gift to several friends who have commiserated with me over their lack of skills at the stove.

The publisher provided me with a copy of this book for review.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...