Summer Book Pick #1

Each summer I spend a great deal of time perusing books in preparation to teach my children during the coming school year. This summer has been no different. Finally, this week I’ve wrapped up my lesson plans, and just in time, as we are leaving tomorrow for a vacation to Arizona. When we return we’ll have a short weekend before we once again send our oldest two back to Purdue for their final undergrad year and before beginning school ourselves at home.

While reading and looking over books, there have been many which I wanted to share in this space, but other duties have intervened, taking up thinking and writing time. I’m hoping over the next weeks to mention some of my new and old favorites in a few areas: poetry, boyhood, girlhood (womanhood?), art for little ones, Shakespeare for children, and, ta dah – chemistry! To start with, here’s my cookbook find of the summer.

Cheap. Fast. Good!

Do you ever feel like you are always in the kitchen? I do! Feeding my ravenous crew often takes more time than I’d like, even though over the years I’ve worked out many simplification strategies.

My basic requirements for recipes are that they be nutritious, tasty, inexpensive, and quick. So when I spied Cheap. Fast. Good! at the bookmobile a while ago, I knew it was one I had to check out. After trying it out a few days, I placed an order for my own copy of this hefty book filled with meal ideas that fit my crazy life. (Well, not entirely. These recipes feed only 4 or 6, so I have to at least double everything.)

Written by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross, authors of the Desperation Dinner books and newspaper column, this book lives up to its title. Among others, we’ve enjoyed Mexi-Chicken, Moroccan Meatballs and Couscous, a Thai peanut noodle dish, and a granola recipe better than my old stand-by. You’ll find some really fresh ideas, plus great tips in the sidebars and mini-articles. There’s a chapter on budget batch cooking, which gives instructions for pre-cooking meats and storing them in your freezer as quick starts for many meals. Even though this is the way I already cook, I was inspired with new suggestions and recipes. I’ve also greatly enjoyed the soup and salad chapters.

Cheap. Fast. Good! has 496 pages, and is available from Amazon for under $11. Kara finds it disappointing that there are not pictures of the finished products, but I think the text is highly readable and even entertaining.


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