The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Globe Life

November 9, 2007

Book review: Titles offer mouth-watering reading

Several weeks ago, I wrote about NPR commentator Bonny Wolf’s interest in food as described in his book, “Talking With Your Mouth Full.”

The following titles are the others I promised to write about in a future column. They, too, are food related, sort of.

‘Saving Dinner Basics: How to Cook Even if You Don’t Know How’

By Leanne Ely

This is a book for those of you who are truly just starting to cook. This is an easy-to-read, easy-to-follow primer on everything from choosing the right knife, to what you should have in your pantry, to properly setting a table. Also covered is how to select meat, fruit and vegetables when you shop.

Ely, a syndicated newspaper columnist, does an excellent job defining the various cooking processes and explaining what knife is for what purpose, among other things.

A number of simple recipes are included in this chatty how-to book.

‘I’m Just Here for the Food’

By Alton Brown

While Food Network star Alton Brown includes recipes in the book, this is not a cookbook in the traditional sense. Instead, this is much of a how-to book that explains everything from how to read a recipe to an explanation of microwave cooking.

One appendix shows “blueprints” of a cow, a lamb, a chicken and a pig so the reader becomes familiar with what cuts of meat come from what part of the animal. Another talks about what goes into a basic “toolbox” of kitchen gadgetry. The information on cleaning the kitchen is very informative and useful, as is the reading list and list of places mentioned in the book.

The recipes are broken down into Software (the ingredients), Hardware (a list of pots, pans, utensils, etc.) and the Application (the directions.) There are lots of sidebars throughout, as well as additional information and definitions (e.g. “piccata is Italian for ‘sharp’ and refers to the bright snappy flavor of this classic one-pan dish,” from the recipe for Chicken Piccata, page 180.)

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