The author of The Sharper Your Knife tells the inspiring story of how she helped nine others find their inner cook.I am very pleased this week to have teamed up with Candace from Bethfishreads.com to bring you a discussion about The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks by Kathleen Flinn. In addition, I share a glimpse into my last shopping trip and my pantry, and there is also a giveaway at the end of the post!
After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, writer Kathleen Flinn returned with no idea what to do next, until one day at a supermarket she watched a woman loading her cart with ultraprocessed foods. Flinn's "chefternal" instinct kicked in: she persuaded the stranger to reload with fresh foods, offering her simple recipes for healthy, easy meals.
The Kitchen Counter Cooking School includes practical, healthy tips that boost readers' culinary self-confidence, and strategies to get the most from their grocery dollar, and simple recipes that get readers cooking.
Lots going on this post, so lets get started! Candace's thoughts are in purple and mine in black! Also, don't forget to head over to Bethfishreads to read the second half of the discussion! Enjoy!
The idea for this book came when Kathleen Flinn started chatting to a woman in the supermarket after watching what she loaded into her shopping trolley. I must say that I would be totally mortified either if a stranger did that to me, or if I was thinking about doing it for myself. We briefly contemplated taking photos of our own shopping trolleys and that was even mortifying!
Definitely. No way I was going to start spying on people. Flinn was gutsy.
During the course of the book we are introduced to nine different cooks. Could you relate to any of them?
Not really. Not even the cooks who were close to my age. I think the main difference is that I grew up in a family of cooks and helped out from a young age. I also took home ec in junior high and high school so I was baking and cooking simple dishes by the time I was 12. The students in the book didn’t really know anything.
I could relate to a degree. My mother is, and always has been, a terrible and unimaginative cook so we never really grew up enjoying the cooking process. We did some home ec at school for one year but it didn’t really stick with me!
I am a lazy cook. I can cook but I prefer the find a new recipe, go to the shops and make it kind of weekend cooking - not Monday to Friday cooking! I often get home from work and think oh, I am far too tired to make something from scratch, and that’s assuming that we didn’t stop for takeaway on the way home. I do have some of those packets of pasta side dishes etc in my cupboard but I am tempted to at least to give a couple of the pasta suggestions a go.
Oddly enough, I’m a lazy cook too. But for me that means I don’t make recipes that require a lot of clean up or all-day fussing. Once you get a few skills, however, there are quite a lot of dinners you can make in under an hour from scratch.
|Brave enough to photograph the pantry, not|
shopping trolleys though!
I took a photograph of my bounty from the farmers’ market and a few things I filled in with that weren’t fresh. In my refrigerator one would find unsalted butter, various hot sauces and condiments, cheese, orange juice, rice milk, dried fruit, and sometimes yogurt. My freezer has frozen vegetables, shrimp, lamb, nuts, chocolate chips, and maybe some chicken, pork, or beef.
My shopping this week is actually pretty good for me! There are probably two reasons for this - firstly, because I knew that we were going to take photos and secondly, I took a list and actually stuck to it!
My son watched the videos that are available and he was definitely ready to try a couple of the recipes - Pomodoro in particular (see below). Not too long ago we tried to make a recipe from a four ingredients type cookbook which was similar but it was bland, bland, bland. It will be interesting to see how much of a difference those extra couple of ingredients make.
One of the really interesting things in the book was the passage about recipes that appear in magazines and how they sometimes cut ingredients because there isn’t enough room to print them in full or because the recipe is going to appear in a certain month or season. I am almost always disappointed by recipes that use only 4 or 5 ingredients.
I watched a few of Flinn’s videos and have to say I was more excited about them than I was about the book. I think anyone could learn some basic dishes by watching her videos.
|Relatively good trip to the shops this week!|
I think this book suffers a little bit from a lack of direction and therefore my reaction to it varied quite broadly. For example, there is a chapter about where she goes on a cruise to teach. The first part focuses on a romantic dinner with husband which I didn’t think needed to be there. A bit later there was a small section which talked about the meals they had and I wanted to be there with them. Such different reactions even within just one chapter.
I totally agree. If you truly wanted to learn to cook, you would have a difficult time working your way through this book. It’s really more like a memoir than a guide. I was often left wondering who the audience was. I found a tidbit here and there interesting or new but as an experienced cook, I didn’t find much new. Some of the advice was definitely solid -- like learning cooking techniques and learning to taste.
Other aspects were good in theory but even someone like me (works from home, experienced cook) wouldn’t do. For example, I’m happy to buy low-sodium organic chicken broth rather than make my own. And although I am perfectly capable of cutting up a chicken (and so is my husband) and I know it’s cheaper, I’m just as happy buying only the parts we really like -- despite the cost.
I think the cutting up a chicken chapter really needs to be a visual explanation rather than a written explanation. I would like to see a video of that one!
I only have a small freezer and so the idea of making stock and storing it, or even just bags and bags of bones is impractical. I think that there is nothing wrong with using short cuts like bought stock if that is what works for you and your lifestyle.
Don't forget to head over to read the second part of our discussion at Bethfishreads, and while you are there check out the links to lots of other fabulous Weekend Cooking posts.
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- the contest closes on 3 October at Midnight Australian Eastern Standard Time. (one week from today)
Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.