Posted: Friday, November 8, 2013, 7:30 am
This book will encourage you to take more time in your kitchen as you revel in the simplest of ingredients!
Do you ever find yourself pouring over cookbooks, only to realize that you will never cook anything in them because the recipes look too difficult? Or maybe there's an ingredient you've never heard of? Or you haven't been to the store and the ingredients list is longer than your to-do list? Or maybe you find yourself in that familiar post-work what's-for-dinner?! rush.
An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler could be the perfect read for you. It may not give you a quick meal fix, but it will allow you to step back, take a moment and think about how you approach your next meal.
An Everlasting Meal is part cookbook, part food memoir that reminds us that we should "cook like people who are hungry." As I have been learning to cook, I often find myself constantly switching between recipe and stove. With my measuring spoon clutched desperately in my hand, I'll be muttering, "Was that a teaspoon or a tablespoon? I think I put in a tablespoon. It calls for a teaspoon. Do I throw it all away now?!" But as I read Adler's book, I began to ease that grip a little bit.
What I really enjoyed about the book is that it encourages an appreciation for the most simple ingredients, and the meals that can be created from them. What separates this from your traditional cookbook is the difference between the frenetic what-do-I-make-for-dinner-tonight?! rush, and the feeling of being "a few steps closer to dinner." It encourages you to take time to just relax and trust your instincts, even if (like me) you don't think you have any!
In this excerpt from the chapter How to Boil Water, Adler says: "The pot was invented 10,000 years ago, and a simmering one has been a symbol of a well-tended hearth ever since. I don't mean to suggest that now that you have been reminded of the age and goodness of a pot of water, you start boiling everything in your kitchen, but that instead of trying to figure out what to do about dinner, you put a big pot of water on the stove, light the burner under it, and then, as soon as it's on its way to getting hot, start looking for things to put in it. Once you do, you will have dropped yourself, in a single gesture, directly into the middle of cooking a meal, jostled by your faith and will be a few steps closer to dinner…" There is a shift from "dinner" to "process," one where you cook with what you have.
Additional chapters focus on more basics like bread (How to Have Balance), beans (How to Live Well) and eggs (How to Teach an Egg to Fly). An Everlasting Meal brings the focus back to ingredients, how to prepare them, how to get as much as possible from them and how to stretch them through multiple meals. Take, for instance, the recipe for pesto made (not from the basil you never seem to have on hand) from the cores, stems and leaves of vegetables you've been chopping and roasting throughout the week! Sounds strange, tastes delicious.
With its essays on the philosophy of cooking a meal, saving a dime and sharing with friends, An Everlasting Meal has definitely helped me appreciate the power of simplicity in the kitchen! My only warning is, it won't matter which room you start reading this book in, you will soon find yourself in the kitchen, scanning your refrigerator and cupboards, maybe putting a pot on the stove and rethinking how you cook!