Cook the Books: an actual class at U of T


The best cookbook ever

This is an actual assignment for an actual half-credit class at U of T. Be jealous of my course load. 

This cookbook was given to me by my mother at the age of fourteen, incidentally the year I learned how to boil water. Its wit, along with its good advice on all areas of kitchen activity, convinced me that even I could eventually learn how to heat tinned soup without cutting myself or add pasta to that boiling water for a more filling meal. The recipes are simple and direct, easily understood, and easily undertaken by somebody with my primitive cooking knowledge.

What makes this book really important to me, other than the sarcasm with which it was given to me by dear old mum, is that it manages to instruct without patronizing and gives sound advice. The author, Evelyn Raab, wrote this book as a means of instructing her two then-teenaged sons on how not to starve to death. It’s helped me do much the same, though usually because of the first instructions in the book: throw everything in the fridge into a stir-fry. 

Eight years after I received this book, it is still my go-to for simple, everyday meals that still manage to take me an hour and a half to put together. Effective tips on managing food waste, storage, portioning, ingredient substitutes, and shopping list efficiency throughout the book provide a good grounding and general arsenal for the culinarily challenged. There are a few basic recipes as well that can be used as the foundation for more complex recipes – pie crusts, different kinds of crumbles, and bread, for example – so that the beginner cook can advance to novice and begin to take on more complex recipes in the future. The title of this book is extremely apt.

The day I burned myself and dropped half a frozen pizza through the oven rack was the day my mom decided that enough was enough, and bought me the first cookbook she found in the children’s section that didn’t involve an Easy Bake oven. From that day forward I’ve been burning myself on pot handles, casserole dishes, baking pans, Pyrex and all sorts of other cooking accoutrements! While my ability to cook hasn’t hit the pinnacles of fine cuisine, I am now able to not starve to death due to techniques learned in this book. Raab’s goal of educating her teenaged sons on the basics of kitchen abilities has been successfully achieved in Clueless in the Kitchen.

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  3. Awesome post! I will keep an on eye on your blog.


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