Book Review with Uniflame: The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn

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The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen FlinnI saw this book on a few blogs and it sounded really interesting. So, although I don’t like to read e-books very much, I downloaded this book from NetGalley to see for myself.

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.

Rating: 4/5

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!


About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

16 Responses to Book Review with Uniflame: The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn

  1. Uniflame says:

    I really enjoyed reading this book 🙂 I am glad you did too and I had fun reviewing it together 🙂

  2. Beth F says:

    I was surprised by these women too. And I too found some of the book a bit tedious

  3. I love the Q&A format and hope to do more of this going forward. So much fun!

    I’m not all that interested in cooking but I am interested in organic healthy food (I also prefer raw… which is crazy to most). I prefer it rather than choosing it.

    We buy parmasian cheese in a shaker (in bulk), once this jar is gone… we will no longer buy it. I’m switching the family to brick form. Who knew the shaker had 75% more sodium!

    Half of the women in my book club have read my copy, we talked and talked about this book last week.

  4. TheBookGirl says:

    I’m not sure I would make it all the way through this one, but I do appreciate ideas for new ways to prepare vegetables.

  5. Sounds interesting. Happy cooking!

  6. Patti Smith says:

    I’m gonna give this one a go…I think you ladies are probably more seasoned cooks than I am so it will be interesting to see if I even notice the tediousness 🙂

  7. Interesting book, Lee! This reminds me of when, visiting my parents last Christmas, I watched my mum throw out heaps of food because there wasn’t enough room in the food for it! What a waste!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Always a pity when so much food gets wasted, Stephanie. I think Christmas may be the worst time because people always overestimate how much their guests will eat.

  8. Christine says:

    This was a great idea to do a duo-review and Q&A with Uniflame. I like getting both of your perspectives. And you know… your reviews and discussions are making me want to set up a kitchen school course like this for some of my friends!!! I think they could use it, if I say so myself. LOL!

    The only item I ever buy in bulk is toilet paper!!!! ; )

    Lovely blog.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Thanks, Christine. I think a lot of us could do with a kitchen counter cooking school. There are so many simple things people don’t know.

      I think I’m like you with bulk items. Oh, and toiletries like tooth paste or shower gel. But I never bulk buy items that can go off.

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