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Stick with the author's freezer meal cookbooks
on May 3, 2012
When the "Don't Panic" series of cookbooks came out I was a huge fan. I loved the idea of cooking all of my meals in 1 or 2 days and not having to cook the rest of the month. The cookbooks were easy to use, had great tips for freezing meals and had some great recipes for every day meals. They were thematic and organized by types of meat, soups, etc.
So, when I had the opportunity to review their latest cookbook I was really excited. I really wanted to like this cookbook. I mean, who doesn't love a "quick and easy" cookbook? I own many quick and easy cookbooks that I love that have great recipes that utilize fresh and flavorful ingredients. Unfortunately, I just couldn't see how this cookbook would be useful to me. The introduction to the book says it all, "we are finally able to share some of our longtime favorite recipes with you that we left out of our previous books because they are not suitable for the freezer." That statement is true. The cookbook reads more like a group of women getting together to share their favorite recipes (i.e. a "community cookbook" or a "church cookbook)." As I read through the cookbook I came across several recipes that were already familiar to me.
I mean everyone who has been cooking for any length of time has a Chinese Chicken salad recipe with green onions, almonds and sesame seeds right? If you've ever been on the South Beach Diet then the "Beef Kabobs with Peanut Lime Dipping Sauce" will be familiar. If you watch Rachel Ray then the "Thai Chicken Wraps" will ring a bell and if you watch "Everybody Loves Raymond" then the "Lemon Chicken" recipe will make you laugh (ok, I threw that last one in for humor but you get the picture).
I took the time to make a few of the recipes (Spicy Pecans and Homestyle Mac & Cheese). Both were delicious and tasty but, again, nothing that I didn't already have in my recipe box. In fact, I wonder if the author's can take credit for these recipes as many of them can be found on the internet. This begs the question, "At what point is a recipe considered plagiarized?" Can authors just change one or two small ingredients and then call the recipe their own? This doesn't seem ethical to me but I don't understand the publishing world so it may be perfectly acceptable. I can understand how dessert recipes might be similar because of the chemistry involved, however, many of the appetizer and main dish recipes can be found on the internet in almost the exact format as shown in this cookbook.
There were a couple of dishes that were new to me but they wouldn't justify the cost of the book for me. If this were given to me then I would probably copy down a few of the recipes and then give the book away. The book just doesn't seem cohesive to me. The recipes are mismatched and there is no real common theme to them. Quick and Easy is probably not the best title for this book as several of the recipes take longer than 30 minutes from start to clean-up. Additionally, you wouldn't take 30 minutes to make an appetizer, 30 minutes to make a main meal and 30 minutes to make a dessert. That's 1.5 hours. Most "Quick and Easy" cookbooks stick to main dishes for this reason.
Still, I really enjoyed the author's first two cookbooks and use them regularly to cook my freezer meals. Their formula for freezer meals is a good one. I would recommend checking out their other cookbooks.
Available April 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group