I don't review books often but Mary Jo Rulnick's book The Frantic Woman's Guide to Feeding Family and Friends caught my eye and it's just what it claims to be--a practical handbook of tips, ideas, recipes and techniques for getting you through a year's worth of meals.
One year. That's right--I was skeptical too but let me break things down for you:
The first part of the book is about organization--how to streamline your cooking and your kitchen by modeling the professional kitchens. You'll find lists of basic equipment, pantry staples and freezer staples you should have on hand. You'll find tips for economic and productive shopping as well as bonus tips tucked away in corners, tips such as a list of common kitchen mistakes and uses for plastic shopping bags. Sound good so far?
But wait, there's more, the next sections parts are the meat of the book and give instructions on how to carry out meals for a year: Part Two outlines a seasonal schedule, with meals according to the weather and seasonal produce. For example in the section for fall it lists produce typically available that time of year then outlines 28 days of meals using those ingredients and how to prepare them in 30 minutes or less.
Part Three outlines specialty weeks such as Turkey Week where leftover turkey is put to good use or Vacay (vacation) Week where things slow down a bit to give the cook a break. Throughout the bookn are more tips and shortcuts for cooking with the minimum amount of time and energy as Rulnick's main purpose is to make feeding a family easier and faster so that a healthy family meal around the table occurs more frequently.
The book concludes with ideas for side dishes, a cooking glossary, tables on herbs, wines and stain removal--lots of extras that make life around the kitchen more organized.
How are the recipes? As you would expect, they're simple and straightforward, recipes that can be made using normal ingredients and don't need to be re-read three times before comprehension hits. Nothing terribly fancy but yet there's still a healthy variety and plenty of suggestions for ways to dress meals up for company or dress meals down for picky eaters. The strength of The Frantic Woman's Guide is not in its gourmet offerings but how it takes the "What's for dinner?" stress out of life. If you use Rulnick's ideas you'll be able to know exactly what's for dinner weeks in advance. That has a certain appeal to me.
Thanks to Ms. Rulnick I have a copy to give away today to a lucky random reader. Simply fill out the information on the entry form here before Monday morning 12 am and I'll post the winner Tuesday morning. Anyone can enter--the book is too good not to make available to all. If you don't win but would still like more information visit her website at www.MaryJoRulnick.com.
In addition, I've got another copy of The Rolling Stones Biggest Bang 4-DVD boxed set to give away which I will award separately. Anyone who fills out the form once will be automatically entered for both drawings. The first name drawn will get the book, the second will get the DVDs. However, if you only want to be considered for one or the other please make note on the entry form message field and I'll give out prizes accordingly.
Have you entered this month's Write-Away Contest? The deadline is June 18th and the theme is Adventure.
Technorati tags: product reviews, giveaways, books, entertaining