Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Cookbook Review & Giveaway ~ How to Cook Everything Fast by Mark Bittman

It seems that for the most part everyone is just too busy these days and in order to continue to get food on the table and eat well we need food that is nutritious and delicious but in record speed. I’m not talking about every day because there are days (weekends especially) when I like to slow down and really take my time to cook, but during the week there are definitely days when I need something delicious for dinner that doesn’t take long to prepare and cook and will keep everyone happy. I’ve tried using my slow cooker which is ultimately long slow cooking (where you do nothing) with fast and easy preparation but so far have yet to be wowed so How to Cook Everything Fast by Mark Bittman seems like the perfect solution…Good food fast.

When I received my copy of How to Cook Everything Fast by Mark Bittman it was like Christmas had come early! The doorstopper of a book (and I mean a doorstopper) has over 1000 pages and is packed with 2000 recipes and lots of invaluable advice on ingredients, cooking techniques and plenty of other information that is both important and very helpful. When you flick through the book the first obvious downfall is that there are absolutely no photographs. It’s probably just as well since it is already a monster book and photographs would just add to it but if you are someone that has to have photographs you will be disappointed. Ordinarily I am that someone but for some reason it didn’t really bother me with this book once I had gone through it…. Maybe because it seems more like a culinary encyclopaedia ….regardless, with this book I was ok without the pictures.

The book has 14 chapters devoted to recipes including Soup and Stews, Pasta and Noodles, Beans and Tofu and Meat as well as additional chapters on how to prepare your kitchen for speed, how to shop for speed and lots of others fast strategies.

So what about the recipes?! Well the downside to reviewing a book with 2000 recipes is that it is virtually impossible to narrow down that many recipes and pick only a handful to test, especially because there were so many I wanted to try. In the end however I had to pick what really appealed and I finally chose 5 recipes which admittedly doesn’t do the book much justice when there are so many other hundreds and hundreds of recipes I want to make! Still time restraints and a limit to how long this review could be was of major importance so 5 recipes it was!

Monday, January 12, 2015

A New Year and a New Direction......

Happy New Year!! Sorry it's a little late but I've been on the down low for the last month as I was back in Scotland staying with my family for Christmas and New Year. I had the most amazing time (as usual!) but unfortunately the time flew by and we're now back home in Canada. That being said I am excited to get back into things, especially where this blog is concerned.

For those of you that read Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops on a regular basis (well as regularly as I update!) you will notice that last year I didn't post nearly as much as I wanted to or had initially planned to. It was all down to time I'm afraid and a lack of it. I'm still cooking as much (and still loving it as much) it was just hard to find the time to develop new recipes, test them a few times and then photograph them and write the post. You may also have noticed that what I was posting, especially the last few posts, were book reviews which I really enjoy, and so for the time being I will be focusing on that. If I get the opportunity to post a new recipe then I absolutely will but for now I want to concentrate on reviewing and testing out cookbooks.

For me, reviewing a cookbook takes some time. To truly test and review a book I think that you have to test the recipes. It's all very well saying a cookbook looks great, is filled with mouthwatering photographs and that the recipes sound good but what if they don't work? In my opinion it's a major fail because honestly why would you want that book?! Therefore I go through each book several times, reading the introductions and initial chapters and bookmarking the recipes that appeal to me. I then test as many as I can but for the point of the review always 3-4 which are tested by following the recipe exactly. If you have read any of my reviews you will know they tend to be quite lengthy but again that is because I am really testing the book and trying to provide as much information to you as possible.

Pros and Cons I see within the book are always top of the list, whether you need Specialty Ingredients that are difficult to buy and if I have learned anything new all feature in my reviews. Basics like whether there are photographs to accompany the recipes are always included and by providing a list of recipes that I have bookmarked I try to share a range of some of the recipes included and not just the ones that I have tested.

As well as that though I am always open to suggestions of anything else you consider important when deciding whether you want to buy a book or not, so please feel free to comment on what you want to see from a cookbook review.

I hope that despite a lack of my own new recipes (all my existing recipes can still be found in the Recipes Page) and rather a concentration on reviews you will continue to read Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops and enjoy the reviews that I do. With that being said I am really excited as I am currently reviewing three cookbooks (with more on the way) and can't wait to share them with you!

Happy New Year again! Let's hope 2015 is a wonderful, happy, healthy and safe year for everyone.

Lynds x

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