Book Review with Uniflame: The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn
November 13, 2011 16 Comments
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I liked it a lot and learned something too. It certainly inspired me to try a bit harder with my own cooking. Generally, my cooking isn’t very unhealthy or bad, just a bit boring. It’s time to try some new recipes!
Uniflame read the book at the same time, so we did a short Q and A, which you can find below my review.
The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: What it is about
The author, Kathleen Flinn, is appalled when she is in a supermarket and notices one particular woman fill her trolley with only pre-processed foods. She goes up and talks to the woman and it turns out the woman hasn’t got a clue how to cook with fresh ingredients. Flinn gives her a few suggestions and the woman gratefully accepts her help.
This prompt Flinn into starting a cooking class for people like this woman. She first visits the homes of the eleven women who signed up for the class, to find out what their kitchen is like and what’s in their cupboards. She also has them cook a lunch for her.
Kathleen Flinn finds that the women
- buy in bulk because it’s cheaper, then don’t use everything before the end-date so throw away a lot of food
- buy a lot of vegetables that then wither in the fridge because they don’t know what to do with them
- buy a lot of packets without realising that they a) contain a lot of additives, and b) often are super-simple to re-create with individual ingredients
- spend time on the road to McD and in the queues there, rather than taking it easy and flinging a few ingredients in a pan at home to prepare a healthier and cheaper meal
The book then continues with descriptions of the classes she runs with these women: knife-skills, how to cook simple dishes, how to cook a chicken, what to do with left-overs, tasting sessions, etc.
At the end of the course, she goes back to their houses where she again inspects their cupboards and eats lunch. Most women have greatly improved in their cooking and use more fresh ingredients and fewer pre-processed foods.
At the end of some chapters, there are a few recipes relevant to the topic of the chapter.
The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: What I thought
I found this book very interesting, although I don’t consider myself to be quite like the students of Flinn’s cooking course. I don’t cook with packets very much and I don’t waste a lot of food because I plan meals in advance, but there certainly is room for improvement. I skimmed the chapter on chicken-cooking as I’m a vegetarian but the rest of the book was relevant for me.
The book inspired me to look at what we eat at home and try to vary our meals a bit more. My main issue is that I tend to cook common-denominator meals as not everyone in the family likes the same food. But I should be more adventurous and try some new recipes, even if only half of us will eat it.
I found some of the descriptions of the cooking classes a little tedious, although the author did a very good job at relaying the general atmosphere.
This book is especially useful for people that feel they can’t cook, don’t know what to do with the vegetables in their fridge, and want to make healthier meals that costs less, without spending a lot of extra time.
I got this book: from NetGalley/Viking publishers for review (e-book)
I read this in: English, the original language
Number of pages: 304
First published: September 2011
Genre: memoir, non-fiction, cooking
Questions from Uniflame
Uniflame of Uniflame Creates read this book at the same time as me, so we exchanged our thoughts on the book. Here are the questions she asked me.
Uniflame: After reading the book, are there certain topics you want to learn more about, or cooking skills?
Judith: I’d love to get those much coveted knife skills. I’m not bad at cutting vegetables but would love to learn to do it the official way.
Uniflame: Are there certain eating or cooking habits that you want to change?
Judith: I’m doing pretty well compared to some of the ladies in the book, but I definitely should NOT buy pizza dough mix any more. It’s ridiculously simple to make. And there are of course other silly short-cuts like that, that I should stop using.
Uniflame: While reading the book, which points struck you the most?
Judith: How much food got wasted by these ladies before they started the course! They would buy in bulk because it was cheaper and then throw a lot of food away that they hadn’t used in time.
Don’t forget to check out Uniflame‘s review of this book!