Sunday, September 5, 2010

Everything College Cookbook: Review

Warning: This is my first negative review of a cookbook or even of anything. Why am I bothering? Because I got this book at Goodwill today, so I feel that the forces of karma are telling me to discuss this book.

So, what's the problem? First, as some Amazon reviewers point out, this isn't really a cookbook for COLLEGE STUDENTS. One points out that most of the recipes require lots of "counterspace, extensive preparation, and a large number and variety of ingredients." Another notes that the title is "offbase": the reviewer can hardly imagine a student chopping up the ingredients for a stirfry or putting together a quiche. Neither can I.

My own scientific evaluation of a cookbook involves the following: open the book at random and write down all the recipes that I want to make. Don't laugh (too much). This method has led me to some wonderful cookbooks that I never would have otherwise come upon, like this one by Ronald Johnson, who turns out to be a poet. The book is so obscure that Amazon doesn't even have a picture of the cover!

Anyway, back to the College Cookbook. Here are the recipes I randomly turned to.

Chili: Why would you saute fatty beef in butter? Why would you add sugar?

Tuna Melt: This involves first making ANOTHER recipe ("Easy Egg Noodles"), 1/4 cup onion, frozen peas, cream of mushroom soup, milk, velveeta, tuna. There are at least three things here that I'm not going to mention again.

Crab Rangoon (under date night recipes): This involves putting stuff in wonton wrappers and deep-frying. This does not seem an auspicious activity for a date.

OK. Why beat a dead horse? I did not find a single recipe I would make even after several more flips.

Meanwhile, check out the little ebook I put together with my son (a genuine college student) for my daughter (also a genuine college student, living in a stove-free dorm suite).

So what would we say for the student who wants chili? Without a stove, cooking ground beef is a pain. We would suggest Louisiana red beans instead. We wrote about this a few days ago. You can do this either with a rice cooker or with a microwave, both of which are permitted in most dorms.

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