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An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace Paperback – June 19, 2012
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In this meditation on cooking and eating, Tamar Adler weaves philosophy and instruction into approachable lessons on feeding ourselves well. An Everlasting Meal demonstrates the implicit frugality in cooking. In essays on forgotten skills such as boiling, suggestions for what to do when cooking seems like a chore, and strategies for preparing, storing, and transforming ingredients for a weekâs worth of satisfying, delicious meals, Tamar reminds us of the practical pleasures of eating. She explains what cooks in the worldâs great kitchens know: that the best meals rely on the ends of the meals that came before them. With that in mind, she shows how we often throw away the bones, skins, and peels we need to make our food both more affordable and better. She also reminds readers that almost all kitchen mistakes can be remedied. Summoning respectable meals from the humblest ingredients, Tamar breathes life into the belief that we can start cooking from wherever we are, with whatever we have.
An empowering, indispensable work, An Everlasting Meal is an elegant testimony to the value of cooking.
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Tonight I had a few (lovely, organic) chicken breasts in the fridge that were getting perilously close to the date. As it is the end of the weekend, I haven't shopped in days and I don't have the ingredients to make any of my glossy paged cookbook recipes. There was some stuff in the fridge, yet I would have thought "nothing to make". Thanks to Tamar Adler, I pulled out my trusty pot, boiled some very salty water and starting by boiling the chicken (who does that???) with a handful of Tuscan spice blend. Then I sauteed a diced onion with some leftover mushrooms (that also would have gone bad), chopped celery ends my kids didn't eat from their Ants on a Log, then made a little roux. I created a sauce with a couple of cups of the broth from the chicken breasts and a cup of milk and random cheese bits. Then I tossed some random leftover cooked veggies and the diced chicken breasts in my lovely mushroom sauce. I also found some too-stale-for-salad croutons in the pantry, so I threw them in the rest of my seasoned broth, making a kind of stuffing, and put it on top of my mushroom saucey chicken concoction and baked for a few minutes. My family declared this makeshift casserole the best thing ever. And there was enough to put another one in the freezer, so I have solved "what's for dinner" twice, never having touched a single recipe. Everything except the chicken, onion, and cup of milk was what Tamar calls "ends", most of which would likely have been in the garbage.
If this sounds like the sort of thing that regularly happens at your house, then you probably don't need this book. If kitchen economy and/or grace are sorely lacking in your home, you will probably save the price of this book in one meal.
I did read the Kindle version, which I normally wouldn't do with a cookbook. However, this book is prose, not glossy photos, and meant to be read in order, so Kindle works great.
That's when (luckily) I came across this book. Tamar Adler first and foremost is a beautiful writer and honestly I got so much more from this book than learning how to cook. I feel like this book gave me permission to make simple meals, to trust time honored traditions from around the world, to salvage food scraps and turn them into feasts and most of all to trust my instincts when it comes to flavors and experimentation. I feel closer to being a real chef rather than just a recipe follower. I think this book also made me feel like a few vegetables and some leftover rice can be a perfectly acceptable meal when done well, whereas before if I didn't have meat or fish I felt l wasn't serving something worthwhile to my family.
Because of this book I've started going to my weekly farmers market for my veggies and fruit, I bought a good bike from Craigslist that I now ride everyday (weather permitting), my grocery bill is literally HALF as expensive as it used to be, and when I look in my cupboards (or freezer, or fridge) I can't believe how much food I have just waiting to be turned into simple, but tasty meals! Suddenly a bag of rice or a few sweet potatoes looks like I could be fed well for days. I waste so much less food, odds and ends from cooking, that I completely understand why she calls this book an everlasting meal, it truly does feel like that! The author reminded me and taught me that people have been well fed for centuries and they weren't running to a specialty grocery store for weird ingredients or eating animal protein at every meal. They were feeding themselves, simply, humbly and well.
Another thing about this book is that every time I pick it up I feel better after having read it. It reminds me of reading poetry or listening to "This American Life". There are certain activities that when we do them we feel elevated and simultaneously closer to ourselves and being human. This book reminds me of what is real and important in life. It's the simple things. I can't recommend this book highly enough. It has changed my life and I am forever grateful.
I enjoy a book that, no matter what I feel about it, makes me want to know more about the author as this one does.
This would be a wonderful book for someone starting their cooking life, but who never had a grandmother to cook alongside. It is grounding, and removes fear from the equation. My grandmother and mother lived and cooked like this; I have been blessed to have them.
I love the index at the end, since many great ideas are mentioned in passing and I will want to go back to them at some point. Though I don't agree with all of Adler's conclusions, she doesn't ask me to. She only asks me to consider them. Like any friend or mentor would.
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This is a good read for people who know how to cook or who simply love food.Read more