Monday, November 22, 2010

Book Nook - Mad Hungry

Well, it's Fall and I've been cooking up a storm (one thing I love to do when the cold weather hits).  Cooking for a family of 5 can seem like a rather hum drum task at times, so I'm always looking for new recipes to please the crowd - and the cook.

Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn is a great cookbook to have on hand.  There are tons of great recipes here, many of which I've tried.  Want to hear about them?

First, the lentil vegetable soup is just delicious.  I was worried that it would be bland & boring, but the recipe has just the right amount of salt & seasonings.  The croutons are a nice addition too.  Definitely recommend this one!  Last night, I made the creamed spinach.  I really liked how the author coaches you on how to steam spinach properly - her advice was very helpful & the recipe turned out great.  I also made the cheddar corn bread.  I thought this one was just so-so, but the kids liked it!  I also made the apple crisp, which was good.  The busy day chocolate cake was good & really easy to make.  As it's a vegan cake, you can't help but think, there's something amuck with this cake (anyone seen the movie Two Weeks Off with the Hugh Grant character asking that about the cheesecake?  Anyhoo....).  The cake does stay very moist for a couple of days & is a great recipe not only for those who are vegans, but also those that are short on basic baking ingredients!  The final recipe from the book I've tried is the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  These are soooo yummy!  Just the right combination of sweet & salty.  This recipe just might replace my usual go-to chocolate chip recipe.

While I've made several recipes from the book, there are a bunch that I'd like to try: the Italian fries look really tasty; I'd like to try the fat girl red rice (I love sun-dried tomatoes); the Chinese celery salad looks good, although I don't think I could get the kids to go for that one.  And the author gushes about pies so much that I just have to try one!  Many of the recipes seem like solid recipes to have on hand for feeding a hungry family.  There are lots of basics like hot chocolate (which is also on my to-try list), but none seem boring.

One thing I love about this cookbook is the photography (of course)!  The photographer uses what is known as an "action" to finish his photos in a uniform style, with muted colors.  The plates are styled on gauze & linen fabrics, or well-worn wood.  I love the look of it all!  Plus, I really appreciate when a recipe comes with a photo, and most of the recipes in the book do.  Also, most of the recipes (in fact, I think all of them) have their own devoted page, so that you don't have to flip back and forth among pages when you're following the instructions.  I'm so glad, because I hate "flipping" when I'm trying to be cooking!  I also appreciate all of Lucinda Scala Quinn's intro's to each recipe, her advice on cooking in general that is scattered throughout and the personal stories she tells about her family.  All that adds up to the feeling that you have a friend in the kitchen with you!

I must admit, there is one thing I dislike about this cookbook: I don't like the marketing schtick about cooking for men & boys.  Honestly, this cookbook would be perfect for anyone, not just Moms cooking for boys.  I think they should have just marketed the book for what it is: great, solid recipes that you'll go to again and again for delicious, homemade meals. 


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