Most helpful critical review
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Not what I expected
on May 10, 2013
The idea behind this book is a neat idea. I'm sure it's very useful to a lot of people. I was looking more for making my own healthy copies of commercially available mixes. There were many mix recipes that could be used instead of commercially bought mixes, however, the book doesn't really help you determine which ones would work in place of those mixes. Some are obvious like Breadmaker Mix (Duh) and Quick Mix, which is obviously a Bisquick substitute. The All-Purpose Cake Mix actually states you can use it in place of any cake mix, but other recipes aren't as straight forward. And some may not catch on to the Quick Mix being a Bisquick mix. I've seen much easier Bisquick substitutes that I've used in the past, so that was nothing new for me.
The book had an interesting set up with mix recipes in the front, and recipes using those mixes in the back. Some mixes were basicly a half finished recipe that you simply added wet or spoilable ingredients to when you were ready to use it, and not used in any other recipes in the back. I found that disappointing. Some mixes were used for a ton of recipes, others were only used in one or two similar recipes and to me it seemed like a waste of time to bother making the mix at all. The All-Purpose Ground-Meat Mix and the Chicken Mix, really seemed like more of a hassle to me. You mix the beef or chicken with herbs and spices than store in fridge or freezer until you use it in one of their many recipes. Honestly, I'd rather buy the meat fresh, add the herbs and spices as I'm making the entire recipe, and cook it. But, I DO have some picky eaters in my house who can actually taste if a meal has been frozen or sat in the fridge for a day or two before cooking. Also, when herbs and spices sit with meat for more than a few hours, the herbs can start to take over, sometimes that's good for a recipe, other times not so much, and with my picky brood... not so much.
In all it is a great concept, and a very intriquing book. It has inspired me, and I did gladly find a recipe for crescent rolls which I had been looking for seperately from the mixes. I agree all of these stored in a fridge, freezer, or pantry would be great time savers, but I'd rather do once a month cooking or follow Once-A-Month-Mom's website for ready-made meals for time savers. I am glad I got this from the library to determine if it was a worthwhile purchase. I, also, checked out The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila which I highly recommend and plan to purchase. While it's not remakes of commercially bought mixes, it is remakes of commercially bought products, and some amazing surprises that I never knew I could make at home!
A few issues I have with this book that others have mentioned, that I'd like to remention, in case others don't read those reviews, as they get older and further down the list.
First, this is supposed to be the healthier, updated version of their original mix book --with some new recipes added in--, yet they list shortening, granulated sugar, and regular flour as the some of the most used ingredients. In the beginning of the book they stress not making substitutions unless mentioned in the recipe, otherwise the recipe won't work. So, this would suggest you couldn't use something better than shortening, or a wheat flour, or sugar substitute.
Second, they stress using fresh ingredients as much as possible in the introduction, however some of their mixes call for commercial mixes or products that certainly are NOT Fresh, such as "presweetened powdered lemonade mix" for their Lemon Pie Filling Mix which is used in some recipes, "cornflake crumbs" for their Crisp Coating Mix, which is used in several dinner recipes, and cornflakes is by far the main ingredient in the mix, and "can frozen orange-juice concentrate" and "can pineapple juice" used in the Fruit Slush Mix which is used to make Fruit Slush (what?! Why don't I just use REAL fruit juices, add ice cubes, and water or ginger ale -leave out the sugar- and have a REAL fruit slush?).
My last complaint is that the mixes and recipes are all nicely laid out with plenty of space and directions, and mixes have page numbers for the recipes they are used for. This is a great reference tool. However, the idex in the back, while extensive, is in miniscule print jammed onto 4 pages, which makes it very difficult to easily find the recipes you'd like to use. Another reason I'm glad I did not purchase this book, as I am a HUGE user of indexes in my cookbooks, and even with using my reading glasses I struggled with the index.