Monday, December 19, 2011

oh my, did she write this just for me?

You'd think with all the cookbooks around that it would be surprising to find one that's very much different than the others. This is not to say the others are bad, not in the least. I'm guessing I have somewhere between two and three hundred cookbooks, and I'm not ready to part with a single one. I love to look through them randomly. I get ideas for some related dish, some adaptation that I might try. I play off them, the recipes and the pictures alike. But I rarely follow a recipe, even in Paleo cookbooks. So many ingredients that I can't eat or even handle without penalty are in those books, too. Still, I love them.

I was fascinated by the idea of Melissa Joulwan's new book, Well Fed. I knew a little about her but not a lot. I'd read "The Clothes Make the Girl" and enjoyed it, though I didn't visit with regularity. I knew she had a connection to Whole9 and commented knowledgeably on the Whole30 blogs. I'm seriously in love with the Whole30, as you must know if you've been here before, so that was encouraging. Ginger Lemon Girl's review was impressive. Okay, I thought, better add this to my bookshelf. First I downloaded the preview that Ms. Joulwan offers free, at The Clothes Make the Girl. Then I ordered the book from Amazon.

I was expecting a good book. I'd seen the preview. I'd liked it. But still, I have been just a little bit blown away by how very much I like every little detail of this book. It's practical. It's beautiful. It's well organized and well written. Beyond that, it speaks to me, answers my preparation questions, and offers hints and tips I can actually use. Maybe more exciting though, at least for me, is that I can use (have used) these ideas and these recipes just as they are. For me that's monumental.

I cook, more accurately I live to cook, and yet I still am frustrated at times that if I want to stay healthy and avoid pain, I must cook virtually all my meals everyday. Sometimes I wish I could just open a can or pour a bowl of cereal, even though I have never liked cans and never did eat cereal. I'd like to be able to put something on our plates and in my mouth without having to romance the kitchen every single time. Well Fed to the rescue. From the detailed descriptions of planning weekly food purchases that include not just what but how much, to the equally detailed methods for having this food ready throughout the week by spending a bit of time prepping in advance, to just what to do with it all when mealtime approaches, this book seemed to be talking to me, personally, directly. I kept thinking, "I could do that!" I don't really need inspiration, I need organization, but she gave me both. And the best need not know on Sunday what you'll feel like eating on Thursday. The flexibility is perfect for those of us who just can't, won't maybe, plan meals and menus.

Still the best part, the the mayonnaise icing on the cauliflower cake, I can eat every ingredient in every recipe I've read so far. They're not filled with butter or cheese or sweeteners or other questionable foods. These are Paleo recipes, of course, but stick close to basics. Paleo basics that is; these recipes are far from mundane. They are also not overly complicated for the most part. I have absolutely nothing against overly complicated, just not every time I cook. The first recipe I tried was the antithesis of complicated, Caramelized Coconut Chips. They took almost 7 minutes from start to plate. Not complicated, just really good, as in not a morsel left on the plate, and GK doesn't usually touch coconut. Oh, that recipe is in her trial download, too.

The chapter on sauces could be my favorite, but...I could probably say that about each one.

I cannot wait to put more of these ideas to work in my kitchen. While I love holiday food prep and celebrations, I have a whole new plan to set in motion once these holiday meals are done. I'm excited and motivated and ready to go.

To Melissa and everyone else involved with the creation of Well Fed, thanks so much, though you really didn't have to write a whole cookbook just for me.

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