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on April 19, 2006
Aviva Goldfarb has focused on a time when craziness and chaos plague many households with children -- dinnertime on weeknights -- and she has offered a method to tame the madness. Organized in a manner that complements and reflects her highly sucessful on-line recipe service,[...], her new book offers recipes organized in a way that makes weekly meal planning, cooking, and grocery shopping easier and less time-consuming. Our family has used the on-line service for at least two years. As a result, we are healthier, our kids try many more foods than they would otherwise (even dishes with vegetables in them!), and cooking is interesting and engaging (because of the variety of recipes) and easy (because of the limited number of ingredients for most recipes and clear instructions). The book, like the on-line service, offers recipes organized by week, and grocery lists are available online. The book's menus loosely follow the seasons of a year, and include many vegetarian options along with more standard fare, as well as soups and salmon recipes more than fancy enough for the occasional dinner guest. Helpful indices included at the back of the book offer both creative and practical approaches to meal planning as well. The Category Index allows you to quickly scan scramble favorites, crowd pleasers, kids' favorites, potluck and picnic dishes, 20 minutes and under dishes, and meals that can be made a day ahead, just to name a few. Nutritional information is provided for each recipe. I have not simply read this book, I have used the recipe service, featuring many of the recipes included in this book, since the service began. I wholeheartedly recommend this book for anyone who ever thought they could not cook, for anyone who wants to cook a little healthier, and for everyone who wants to make their evenings with their kids a little calmer. The Six O'Clock Scramble -- it's not just a book, it's a way of life!
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on May 24, 2007
I bought this when I returned to work when my daughter was 10 months old. I initially bought it for the downloadable shopping lists, but instead of going by week, I go by seasons, flip through to find 2-3 recipes that jump out at me, and buy the ingredients for those. The next week, I pick up where I left off. The meals have simple ingredients, interesting flavors, and are easy to prepare. 2 minor things: the meals are 30 minutes to prepare, but may take longer to cook, so keep an eye on that. Also, some of the recommended dish sizes are on the small side, so I sometimes size up (9x13 instead of 8x11, for instance) to make sure that it fits well without bubbling over.
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on August 4, 2008
This cookbook is great if you're looking for fast meals you can whip together without a lot of fuss. There are probably 200+ recipes in this book so in there you'll find at least a few things you like! Having found just one or two meals we'll add to our list of favorites makes it worth buying.

Having said that though, I didn't find the meals terribly interesting or incredibly tasty. Some don't even appear all that healthy, but I suppose 'healthy' can mean different things to different people. Some recipes were pretty good, like Goddess Chicken - but how can it be bad with a bottle of delicious dressing dumped in with artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes! Other things seemed more like cookbook space fillers, such as 'taco night' (brown ground meat, serve with standard fixins'). There were a few recipes we tried that made me say, 'where's the flavor?' (like pasta with beans). And looking at the ingredients, it just wasn't in there, nothing magical happened upon cooking.

I didn't find the weekly menus all that helpful since I wasn't interested in a good number of the recipes, but overall it was worth the purchase. It's a little hard to navigate sometimes, as it's arranged by season and not by type of protein/pasta/cuisine, so I spend a little time just flipping through pages each week and picking out recipes to try that week. It won't replace my other favorite cookbooks (like my favorite from Cooking Light), but it's nice to have on hand for some quick & easy dinners.
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on October 27, 2009
[...]

Cookbook Review: The Six O'Clock Scramble by Aviva Goldfarb

Title: The Six O'Clock Scramble: Quick, Healthy, and Delicious Dinner Recipes for Busy Families
Author: Aviva Goldfarb
Copyright: 2006
Publisher: St. Martin's Press, New York, NY
Pages: 321, including a brief author bio, an index and dozens of yummy-sounding recipes!

One of my favorite things about going to the library is being in a... "culinary" mood and picking out a cookbook. I put culinary in quotes because that does NOT describe me, nor does it describe my family. I have a very picky clan and somehow I can't envision them eating something exotic like... couscous and savory vegetable casserole with feta (p. 64). It's not just that... the price of some of these one-use recipe fillers scares me away. And with this example, I have to admit I'm not crazy about couscous, but that's beside the point!

That disclaimer of bias aside, I loved looking through Ms. Goldfarb's book. The first thing that caught my attention was that she organized the meals by season. I'm terrible at cooking for the season! If spaghetti sounds good in summer, I make it. I know it's a little heavy for summer, but I can't quite keep my seasons straight when it comes to cooking! Having recipes sorted for me is quite the revelation!

The next thing I noticed (and liked) is that the recipe titles are sorted by weeks. Fall has 13 weeks of recipes, and all of them look amazing! The rest of the seasons have 13 weeks, too, making a year-total of 52 weeks. A sample week? I thought you'd never ask!

Winter, Week 4
Easy Baked Ziti (it looks good, but I already have a delicious baked ziti recipe)
Pumpkin Black Bean Soup
Mediterranean Chicken with Tomatoes and Olives
Baked Sausage and Egg Casserole
Southwestern Bulgur Pilaf

Here's a week six months later from

Summer, Week 4
Grilled Sausage Kabobs with Summer Vegetables
Lime-Garlic Shrimp with Black Bean and Corn Salad
Rigatoni with Asparagus and Lemon
Celia's Honey Chicken
Japanese Eggplant and Green Beans in Garlic Sauce

Believe it or not, but each of these meals is simple, taking about 30 minutes per dish!

The book wraps up with a few notes and a comprehensive index. One other worthy note--Ms. Goldfarb fills the book with little sticky-note-like tips. They're for families of every age, one case in point being the example of puréeing a portion of dinner and freezing it in ice cube trays--then labeling and using thawed out for baby.

All in all, it's a lovely book! I wish I could have found more recipes suited to my family, but you may be fancier than I am!
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on May 9, 2006
The Scramble hits just the right balance between "easy to prepare" and "good for you recipes." I never feel right just opening boxes and cans of prepared meals and calling that dinner. On the other hand, I need a few shortcuts too! The Scramble seems to emphasize fresh and varied produce and a nice mix of vegetarian and meat meals, perfect for a family like us that is trying to cut down on cholesterol and fat but still needs to churn out meals that appeal to the kids. I love the all the tips and the hints and the format. It lends itself to easy browsing. I have used the shopping list that is available on-line and for most weeks now, I have cut my shopping down to once a week! A great cookbook for those who have hit the "What's for dinner?" wall once too often.
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on February 15, 2007
I cannot express how much I LOVE this book. I work full time so having time to come home and make a dinner for my family has always been a challenge. I also didn't want my son to look back on his childhood and remember dinner as hot dogs or sloppy joes over and over again. I am by no means a cook, but the recipes in this book are so easy and delicious. There are a lot of vegetarian dishes, which I wasn't sure my husband would go for, but so far so good. He has tried and liked everything.

You just go to the Scramble's website and print out each week's grocery list which is all broken down by category (produce, shelved items, etc), they are also numbered for each meal so if you don't want to make something that week it is really easy to cross all the ingredients off your shopping list. Each meal also comes with side dish ideas.

If you are looking for healthy, quick, and yummy meals buy this book right now. You will love it!
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on January 14, 2007
I just took over cooking duties for a family of 4. The most I ever cooked was hamburger helper or canned sloppy joe's. Now I feel like a chef! The recipe's are so easy to follow and very tasty. I follow the weekly menu's in the book, so that way we get well balanced meals all week. The on line shopping lists are awsome. Just print it out and head to the store!

One of the best things about this book is that it is introducing me to cooking. I am getting more comfortable to start experimenting on my own pretty soon!

We have bought 2 books as gifts and recomended to everyone we can. I can't say enough good things about this book!
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on January 2, 2008
Have tried a few of the recipes now and plan to keep making more. I love the format: the weekly/seasonal grocery lists, suggested side dishes, healthy ingredients and the mix of meat and meatless dishes. Definitely a great framework for putting together a weekly repertoire (it makes me braver about thinking up menus on my own, or just augmenting what's in this book with favorites from elsewhere).

Cons:

Based on the entrees I've made so far (e.g. fettucine with chickpeas, Mediterranean chicken), and what I've skimmed past, the recipes seem to be on the bland side. I've been enhancing as I go - sun-dried tomatoes here, black olives and salt there - but wish the flavors were a little more complex and powerful. Then again, that would probably make the cooking time longer. Will be interesting to see how the more "exotic" entrees turn out.

Have also noticed that there's a fair amount of cleanup involved - i.e., this is not one-dish cooking. In some cases it seems like you could saute all the ingredients in the same pan if the order was just switched around. Certainly there are other cookbooks for one-pot cooking, but if you're looking to streamline your nightline routine, be aware there's work on the back end here. Could be that this is a result of the recipes originating from different kitchens: I've found that the Barefoot Contessa recipes, for instance, tend to be pretty efficient, and I'm guessing that's because they were developed under commercial conditions.

Lastly, I think it would be great if the seasonal menu pages as well as the grocery lists ("Fall," "Winter," and so on) had page numbers for each recipe, so that one doesn't have to flip thru the index in back for each dish.
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on February 27, 2013
I thought this book would be recipes that are quickly prepared and cooked. I have been prepping most of the recipes the night before, mostly pre-chopping vegetables when I can. Some take 30 minutes plus to cook. Had I not chopped the night before, it would have taken even longer. Maybe I am just not reading the full recipe when I decide what to make, but I thought the point of this based on the title and book descriptions was to make weeknight cooking quick and easy.

The meals I have made so far have been tasty and nutritious.
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on February 3, 2007
This cookbook is a refreshing addition to the way I have always cooked for my family. But thanks to the Scramble I am trying things in new combinations and am reminded of foods that I forgot about. The Steak and Portobello Sandwiches have become the all-time favorite dinner in our house for all 4 of our kids as well as for my husband and myself. Another favorite is the Roasted Sweet Potato and Apple Soup. So fast, easy, and nutritious. You can't beat that! And when Aviva says a recipe takes 30 minutes - it really takes 30 minutes! Planning a week of dinners is easy with her menus and side dish suggestions. Having dinners sorted by season is refreshing as well. I also like having a cookbook that is filled with main course items. I have so many that are filled with sections of desserts, salads, and sides. What I needed was dinner staples. This is it. I also gave this book as a gift to my sister who called to tell me she is "obsessed with it". I think that means she likes it. ;-)
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