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on November 7, 2006
Lorna Sass's latest book, "Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way" is a real winner! I was privileged to test a few of Ms. Sass's recipes and was impressed with their robust flavors, aromas, and textures. Some folks are turned off by the idea that a recipe is "healthy," thinking that it means bland flavors and straw-like textures (haven't we all encountered *those* recipes?). Not so here! These recipes will find a home in any good cook's recipe collection.

As in all of her previous books, Ms. Sass has a unique, almost minimalist approach to seasoning. She pares down the lengthy ingredient lists of many ethnic recipes and uses just a few of a cuisine's defining herbs and spices to create deep, complex, and extremely satisfying flavors. Her taste buds are right on target. Some examples of her on-the-mark flavoring techniques are found in Thai Curried Chicken Soup with Brown Jasmine Rice, which has become a staple at our house, as have her Oat and Turkey Soup with Tex-Mex Flavors and her Ethiopian Chicken Stew with Teff Polenta.

Her Roasted Brown Rice Pilaf with Leeks incorporates an interesting method for making a very flavorful and versatile pilaf -- using only 4 ingredients. That's hard to beat!

Ms. Sass's delicious desserts are too numerous to mention. One our favorites is Brown Basmati Rice Pudding Custard. It is so fragrant and delicious that it satisfies diners who love custards and flans, and also those who love rice pudding at the same time. Her Biscotti were lighter than many I've had and beautifully crunchy without being teeth-shattering.

This is a book that will rise to the top of my "Favorites" in my cookbook list.
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on November 28, 2006
I love her cookbooks and own most of them. I was just surprised at the amount of meat based recipees in the cookbook. It is great for ideas to cook whole grains and incorporating into a standard diet. If you were looking for vegetarian or vegan it is not for you. Her books always make cooking sound easy and fun and I enjoy them. I have tried many of her ideas and recipees and have liked the finished product. I especially like her practical suggestions for beginners.
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I have always loved food and cooking. Recently, I've become more health conscious and have been monitoring my calorie intake as well as trying to include more healthful foods like fish, whole grains, and lots of veggies. After reading so many positive reviews I checked this out from the library to educate myself on whole grains. What I love about this cookbook is that it is far more educational on most. There is a lot of background on each variety of grain including basic cooking instructions, what it pairs well with, and history and background info. This is wonderful for those of us cooks who want to not only make something great, but to also learn in the process. The pairing advice is especially wonderful for those who want to branch beyond executing a recipe to experimenting. The book also includes quite a breadth of recipes including some with and without meat so there are a lot to try here. My only complaint, and the reason I give it 4 and not 5 stars, is that there is no nutritional information for the recipes!!! I would assume that many of us who are interested in whole grains in the first place would tend to be more health conscious, so I would appreciate things like fat, calories, fiber, vitamins & minerals, etc. I can calculate this myself using the many calculators online, but prefer to have it right there for me.
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on August 17, 2007
Finally, a whole-grain cookbook written by a real foodie! The jacket photo illustrates "Brown Rice Salad and Flank Steak With Asian Flavors," so right away you know your're going to get recipes an omnivore can love. Sure, Sass tells you all you need to know about the nutritional aspects of each grain (although "according to Mike Orlando, president of Sunnyland Mills ... the boiling process [of bulgur wheat] allows the nutrients from the outer layers of the wheat kernels to migrate to the inner core" (98) kinda sidesteps the loss from heat and oxidation--Sass's degree is in medieval lit, not chemistry), but her focus is on taste and especially texture. She emphasizes the textural contrast in "Any-Grain Scrambled Eggs With Salami" (172) and many other recipes. Sure, she has some minor procedural lapses--the grains should be added to the aforementioned recipe only after the eggs have set, but this cookbook is the best and maybe the only comprehensive whole grain guide out there.

Sass offers the basic preparation method for all grains, demystifying categories like "kamut" and "farro," and over a hundred specific recipes from soup/salad through main courses through dessert. Not one that I've tried is a dud and she offers alternate grains for just about every recipe. She even offers intelligent wine choices--again, referring the aforementioned recipe,"try a medium bodied, fruity chardonnay without oak" was a good starting point.

There are typos (for example, in "Anise pignoli cookies" (278) the text reads "form balls 1/2 inch in diameter." That's a mighty tiny cookie, so I tried 1 1/2 inches and it worked great. But such lapses are few. And these cookies taste great (though I live in the Great Basin and prefer the pine nuts from the local hillsides--much fresher and thus tastier than the Italian and Chinese varieties Sass considers). I also tried a friend's batch of "Whole-wheat almond biscotti"(288) and they were superb. Bakery biscotti look good but seldom have more than a faint anise/mothball flavor. Sass's version is the most almond-y cookie yet, and cutting Sass's sugar measure by 1/3--this was the only change my friend said she made--yielded biscotti that went very well with Moscato d'Asti (yeah, Sass eschews wine recommendations for dessert items though she lives in NYC and probably knows people who enjoy this combo at brunch).

I revised my earlier review to include some criticism because I didn't want it to come across as the ranting of a gushmeister. But I'm not damning with faint praise, either--Sass's cookbook is engaging. There's none of the greener-than-thou smugness that informs so many other whole-grain cookbooks. She includes a list of suppliers for some of the harder-to-find varieties (like hull-less "NuBarley"), but she isn't an organic purist and tells you out front if your local super is likely to have the grain in question. Content, format, layout--this is a model of what a cookbook should be.
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on July 6, 2009
Strengths: This book does include almost all whole grains (and similar species of food value such as amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat, although there is no mention of chia seeds). The first 113 pages of the book also give a comprehensive analysis of each grain along with the available varieties of each grain, as well as basic cooking directions for each variety, which is very helpful. An added unique and fun feature is a Grain Exchange paragraph at the end of each grain chapter, advising what other grains can be substituted for the topic grain.

Weaknesses: The majority of the book (pp. 118-300) almost completely focuses on recipes for using processed versions of whole grains, which was a major disappointment to me. Recipes for processed versions of whole grains are widely available in other books, so I felt sad that the author (Lorna Sass) opted to go the "easy way" with these recipes. Another disappointment was the recipes' extensive use of oils, dairy and meat products in cooking. Why bother to use healthy whole grains when you end up creating foods here that are as artery-clogging as what you can buy in supermarkets and "nuke" in the microwave in five minutes? There is also room for improvement even in the descriptions of whole grains in the front section of the book, since Ms. Sass does not include a column in the analysis box of varieties of each grain to make it clear right away which are actually whole grains and which have been partly milled; as a result, I had to go through the first 113 pages of the book with a pen to add that essential column of information, especially in the chapter on rice, where otherwise it really gets confusing: For example, of the 7 kinds of red rice, only 2 are 100% whole grain. Given that this book title begins with the words "whole grains" I was confused that Ms. Sass includes many partly milled or completely milled (i.e., where the bran covering is partly or completely removed) versions throughout the introductions of each grain species; be skeptical, therefore, of each individual listed variety of grain (especially in the rice section) until you can verify whether or not that particular variety is completely whole grain. See, for example, the Whole Grains Council website for clarification on these types of questions. True, in the first few pages of this book, Ms. Sass does state that she decided to include partly (or completely!) milled versions of each grain in this book 'because the cooking methods are similar.' Unfortunately, Ms. Sass, when you start dumbing down the book, you also start dumbing down the reader. A final disappointment was the 2-page section on pressure cooking of whole grains. Although Ms. Sass makes sure to promote one of her other books (on pressure-cooking), she unaccountably omits what should have been a fair warning that her recommended high pressure level of pressure-cooking destroys most of the B vitamin content of grains, as well damaging antioxidants and healthful phytochemicals, due to the above-boiling temperature created by the pressure-cooking process -- not a very satisfactory trade-off for the time savings in pressure-cooking, in my opinion (I have a masters' degree in Public Health), since the goal of whole grain cooking is to maximize the nutritional benefit. No pressure cooker for me, thank you very much.
Strangely enough, I do still recommend buying this book, and I am glad that I bought a copy, but too much of its contents have a "bait and switch" approach to the subject of human nutrition, I look forward to seeing a new edition of this book in the future, preferably co-written with another author who has nutrition credentials. Wouldn't that be wonderful? Here's hoping.
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on February 4, 2008
Nearly two years ago, I decided to stop mixing up entire bowls of sugar cookie dough and calling that breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With the support of my husband and the apprehension of my three children, I stood in the pantry and threw out all of the processed junk we owned.

When I was finished, we had a few cans of tomatoes and that was it. I then purchased huge bags of all kinds of grains. Different kinds of wheat, spelt, Kamut, amaranth, buckwheat, and more. But I didn't know what on earth to do with them.

For about a year, we ate a lot of brown rice, and I learned how to make bread from my freshly ground flours, but what to do with pounds upon pounds of all of those other types of grain?

I stumbled upon Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way while browsing for healthful cookbooks at a book store. I flipped through eagerly, would this help me use all of those grains and cook good-for-us, yet delicious foods for my family?

I didn't buy it immediately, but went home to read reviews on Amazon. Encouraged, I purchased it and waited for it to arrive.

This book is fast becoming my go-to Food Bible. Every recipe I've tried, my family has adored. The directions are easy to understand, the suggested substitutions allow me to get more comfortable with the many different kinds of grains, and the results have all (so far) been wonderful.

My only complaint? I wish every recipe had a full color photograph. But other than that, this book is an absolute must for anyone desiring to eat more healthfully, or use up the fabulous grains pining away in their basement food storages.
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on May 21, 2007
If you are looking for ways to make more healthful food choices for your family, as I am, this book is a wonderful resource. And, to enjoy the benefits of the many recipes, you needn't own a pressure cooker (although pressure cooking guidelines are included for those who prefer to cook their grains this way).

I have broadened my knowledge of whole grains, vastly, since purchasing this book. On my most recent trip to Whole Foods, I added quinoa, Kalijira rice, yellow corn grits and buckwheat groats to our pantry. Luckily, Whole Foods carries a lot of the rices and wheats that are discussed in the book, and I intend to try a bunch of them. The book has some beautiful full page photos that have inspired me to add to add the following to this week's menu: Shrimp, Corn, and Quinoa Soup; Wild and Brown Rice with Sesame-Soy Glazed Salmon and Masa Harina-Beef Casserole (which I think my kids will really like).

This is my fourth Lorna Sass book, and I must say that I love them all!
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on December 1, 2006
my hopes have been raised and then frustrated by 'natural' as well as 'complete' cookbooks that often don't give me the information i really want: what ARE and what do i DO with those mysterious grains and grits and flours at the health food store? (...like sorghum!) At last a book that clearly lays out basic information and nomenclature, explains all the nuances, and provides tempting interesting recipes besides. This is a must-have primer.
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on January 11, 2007
I love this book! It starts out describing each grain, where it comes from, its history and how to cook it. Then there are recipes using the grains. I have used a lot of the recipes and they are great, easy to do and very tasty. I have have been trying to improve my diet by including more grains, and this book has made it very easy to do!
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on December 30, 2006
This book allows you to REALLY use whole grains every day, in every meal. And, not only will your meals be healthy, but they'll really taste great too. The soups are easy, homey, and delicious winter fare. Some of the most interesting whole grain recipes are found in foods that I never would have thought to put certain grains in (somethimes because I was ignorant as to what they were before this book came out). The pancakes and baked goods that I tried were delicious and I got an education at the same time. Thanks, Lorna, it's another winner!
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