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Desperation Dinners Paperback – Bargain Price, January 10, 1997
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The authors' technique, which calls for using convenience foods (canned, frozen, boxed, bagged, or jarred), is based on the idea that the time saved justifies extra cost and sacrificed quality. Their Desperation Pantry includes staples such as canned beans and broth, along with onion powder, frozen lemon juice, pre-shredded cheeses, and produce that is ready to use, such as chopped garlic and sections of citrus fruit. This is not great cooking, but the meals will rescue families from a surfeit of fast food and boxed-pasta dinners.
Top Customer Reviews
While the book does take advantage of convenience foods -- pre-chopped veggies, frozen chopped onions, etc. -- it uses mostly fresh vegetables, meats, and readily available herbs, spices, and condiments. I've made several recipes from this book and haven't had a problem yet. My first was the cream of wild mushroom soup -- a heavenly silky concoction made with several varieties of mushrooms that reminded me a soup I'd eaten in an excellent Swedish restaurant some years ago. Outstanding!
And the authors are true to their word -- if you follow the directions, you'll complete each dish in 20 minutes or less. You'll keep busy for those 20 minutes, but you WILL finish. Each recipe is marked to let you know if you need to pre-heat the oven, boil water, etc. -- which aren't usually included in the 20 minutes.
As a cookbook collector, I purchased Desperation Dinners as another example of "quick and easy" cuisine. It's now on my "most used" shelf!
August 2007: It's now six years later since I wrote that review above, and this is STILL my most-used cookbook. I have over 2500 books in my cookbook collection, but this is the one I reach for first. I've made probably 30-40% of the recipes in the book, but I still have my favorites (that cream of mushroom soup, for instance). If you're looking for down-to-earth recipes that use everyday ingredients, but use them in creative ways, this is the book for you. Seriously. It's worth the investment.
While I kinda like to think of myself as a "gourmet" cook, many nights I just don't have the energy, motivation, ingredients, etc. to even THINK about dinner, much less make it. That's where this book is indispensible. In 20 minutes or less -- no lie-- I can make a very tasty, filling meal, using pretty much what I've got in the cupboards (maybe with a short trip to the grocery to pick up a couple of fresh ingredients).
Now, I agree with one of the reviewers who said that these recipes are kinda bland. Many of them are. Mills and Ross certainly don't impress us with their cultured palate, and in some instances (for example, their Fiery Chinese Beef, or should I say, Fiery Chinese "Blech!") their use of spices is just plain wrong. But fortunately, they don't go astray too often and if you have a rudimentary grasp of salt, pepper & semi-exotic seasonings like curry powder, dijon mustard, "fresh" (bottled) ginger, etc. you can easily flavor these dishes to your taste w/ wonderful success.
Many of the recipes keep you moving, but some of them are so amazingly simple I wonder why the heck I didn't think of them on my own (the Shrimp Dijon and Honey Mustard Porkchops come to mind here: just slather & cook; served over rice these dishes are delicious). There are great recipes for gazpacho, shepherd's pie, chicken fingers parmesan, spaghetti w/ clam sauce, golden fried fish fillets and an interesting bunch of recipes for the grill, too. Along with the meals, Mills & Ross provide lots of simple recipes for delicious sauces, salsas, vinaigrettes, you name it.Read more ›
Using readily available ingredients, these recepies take only 20 minutes. (If you're using a mandoline slicer or food processor, you can assemble many of the recipes in a mere 15.)
While I do love to cook, I am often left with tons of leftovers, as I am a single twentysomething. The recipes in _Desperation Dinners_ are not only quick-cooking, but incredibly easy to scale. Therefore, I can enjoy good, fast home cooking without leaving tons of leftovers. Also, the side dishes make excellent one-person meals.
Additionally, this cookbook is great to have handy if you (like me) frequently have friends and family stop by unexpectedly. I just grab my copy of _Desperation Dinners_, go to one of my Post-It-Note-marked pages, and make something great. Guests always comment on my Martha Stewart-like way of whipping up something delightful whenever they knock on the door. (Little do they know that _Desperation Dinners_ is my secret weapon.)
Despite my words of praise, I have a few words of caution: 1.) Don't buy this book if you only like using fresh ingredients, as many of the recipies rely on bottled sauces and condiments. 2.) This is not the best cookbook choice if you're on a low-carb diet, as the meat and veggie-only options are minimal.
Regardless, this is a great cookbook! I highly recommend it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is the only recipe book I own that is actually tattered from use. I am buying a second copy!!!Published 4 months ago by Book Mom
This is, by far, my most used cookbook in my kitchen. I got my original copy sometime in 1999. I had to purchase another copy about 4 years ago, because mine was falling apart... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Sarah
I am a busy working mom and my husband travels for work. If it weren't for this book, we'd never eat anything except fast food or Hamburger Helper. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Fredwina Sassington
I like the idea of this book, because I often feel desperate around dinner time.! I also like the idea of dinners that can be made faster than getting a pizza delivered. Read morePublished 15 months ago by F. Trembath
I will be using these recipes a lot. I can say this with certainty because they are a crowd pleaser when my friend cooks them for us.Published 15 months ago by Marilyn from Portland oregon