Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pragmatic Cook Book Review: 400 Best-Ever Budget Recipes

If you're a working mother, student, a boss or you just find yourself multitasking between 10 different tasks a day, this book can be your life saver. Again, I can't emphasize enough how cooking is just like riding your bicycle. Yes, cooking can be scary for those who have not venture into this domain, but I honestly have to say, its like any other task, once you've set a goal and accomplishing that goal just gives you a rush of energy to try and do it again. When you choose to cook for yourself or family, it really should be just fast and simple meals. Keep the more intricate recipes for special occasions. 

This book definitely has a great list of budget recipes to select from, however the "best-ever" expression used on the cover I find to be a very subjective expressions to use in the context of the book.

The compilation of recipes in this book is very simple and cooking time usually takes between 20 - 30 minutes with an additional 10 minutes preparation time. There are choices from light dishes that are meant to be served immediately and consumed there and then, as well as dishes that are cooked in batches which are suitable for freezing. Recipes in this book caters to fuss free preparation with minimal ingredients. You can however, prepare certain ingredients ahead of time and by the time you plan to cook when you get home from work, you already shorten your preparation time by half. 

However, living in the South East Asian continent, the burst of flavours in our dishes is an important element that distinguishes our cuisine with all the other continents. Here in Malaysia, we are use to utilising almost all the spices we can have our hands on, in comparison to the flavours in the recipe of this book comes a bit mild for my Malaysian palate. But I do not discourage the use of this book as it has many good, healthy, quick and simple recipes that are pragmatic.

Using a cook book doesn't mean you have and MUST keep to the guidelines to ensure you get the correct recipe. However, it does help that you follow the exact instructions of the recipe the first time you make it. Later, when you have familiarised the technique and taste that you have achieved, it's ok to alter the dish to your own taste buds. After all, cooking is about making something that fits your palate and interest in flavours.  

This cook book is handy as it gives you a variety of economical dishes that are practical in usage of ingredients, time and cooking methods. Another important factor of this publication is that it provides you with a table that indicates all the shelf life and storage of canned, frozen and fresh ingredients. This way, you can plan out your meals in the week or days. Addition to that, it also identifies the seasonal vegetables you can grab your hands on, although this doesn't really apply to us here in Malaysia, but perhaps we can use this and find out what fruits are seasonal to our country and use that to our advantage.

If you happen to be nearby a book store - try looking for this book. I've used it as a guide line for myself and how to manage my time better. Try it out and see... but if you want to try a recipe from this book, give me a shout out and I can post an entry here to share with everyone. Then perhaps we can all  compare notes??


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