Why Should I Cook?
“This book is first about dispelling the notion that
cooking a tasty, nutritious meal must be a time-consuming
process.” –Tod Dimmick
I am “slowly” starting to enjoy “fast” cooking.
Normally I like to take my time and cook at my leisure. I’ve
learned the bliss of a bread machine and the luxury of a slow
cooker, not to mention the fun of an ice cream maker.
However, my love of reviewing has changed my life in various
ways. Now I love writing as much as cooking. What is a girl to
do? Write or Cook?
In a world filled with time challenges, I choose both. My
husband also doesn’t have a regular work schedule, so when he
arrives home “earlier or later than expected” I have to
figure out what to cook and I don’t have time to waste. By
purchasing ingredients at the start of each week and having
cookbooks like “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to 20-minute
Meals” to inspire me, cooking is more of a pleasure instead of
a stressful experience.
Cooking is always in a process of evolution. Often we look
for cookbooks to inspire us in our own creativity or we are just
looking for new recipes to satisfy our current cravings. Tod
Dimmick is known for his writing and weekly “Gourmet Cooking
on a Budget” e-mail newsletter that is read by over 75,000
Tod has written this completely wonderful book about cooking
in a day when we often feel we don’t have time to cook. He
made me feel like a pro in the kitchen. There are just some
recipes that make me feel like “more of a chef” than others.
There is a recipe for “Chicken Marsala” on page 107 which
I absolutely loved. Sure, I made a few changes because in this
type of recipe, you can actually play around a bit with how you
create the dish. I ended up using only the butter instead of the
additional olive oil and using skinless chicken tenderloins.
Also, I fried the mushrooms in the butter with the chicken and
used a chicken base mixed with water instead of just a canned
This recipe can be taken to the level of gourmet very easily.
The reason I had to change the recipe was because I only had
frozen chicken and frozen chicken doesn’t really like being
rolled about in flour and I was saving time by not defrosting
them slowly in the microwave. So, I mixed flour with water and
thickened the sauce at the end instead. Experimentation is half
the fun of cooking!
Part 1: Meals Done Quick, Done Right
This section explores the elements of the successful kitchen.
You learn everything about kitchen tools to spices, herbs and
the ingredients for the perfect pantry.
1. Why 20-minute cuisine is an important part of today’s
2. Ingredients: The basics for the pantry, the fridge and the
3. Methods: A review of cooking methods perfect for 20-minute
4. Equipment: A review of those key pots, pans, tools, and
equipment that make cooking easier.
5. Practical Secrets: Tips for a fun, tasty, and speedy meal.
Part 2: Main Courses
Here are recipes and tips for preparation of quick, tasty
entrees. Breakfast, Pizza, Pasta, Seafood, White Meats, Richer
Part 3: Make the Meal Complete: Side Dishes, Quick
Vegetable Dishes, Breads, Dessert Time.
Part 4: Theme Cuisine: Easy Timesavers, Comfort Foods,
Ethnic Magic, Healthy and Delicious, Whirlwind Romance Food,
Entertain Sane, Leftovers.
Part 5: Behind the Scenes: Internet Sources,
Inspiration, Wine-food parings, Gardening.
Tod also encourage a “love of cooking” instead of just
providing recipes. He believes attitude is the difference
between something being a hassle or a pleasure. This perspective
is built into every chapter. He actually went through a phase
where he didn’t like to cook and slowly discovered the value
of home cooked meals.
Little “Extra Morsel” sections appear throughout the book
and are helpful hints. They are just small boxes with info
related to the topic at hand. Words and phrases, tips, cuisine
content/background info and secrets are all revealed.
You will soon see that cooking a great meal doesn’t always
require a lot of time. “20-minute cuisine” becomes a
pleasurable way you can cook and still have time to spend with
Case Study 1 – Fatigued Friday
“At the end of a long week, I want
to relax and enjoy the feeling of the weekend. The last thing I
want to do is spend hours in the kitchen. On a night like this,
speed is more important than ever, yet at the same time the meal
has got to have a touch of class. After all, I want to start the
weekend off right.”
A recipe for Pasta with Chicken, Mozzarella, and Sweet Red
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves 4 to 6
The section on Kitchen Equipment is great as he also
introduces you to various “must have” items like a Pizza
Stone. Probably not something you would buy being a new cook,
but it will make you feel like a pro. In the Entertainment
section, many of the recipes serve 8. Most of the recipes seem
to serve 4-6 and I’ve made some of the recipes for two and you
can freeze the leftovers..
The Glossary also includes such entries as “ right-brain
cooking,” and “splurge.” Some ingredients may seem like an
indulgent purchase, but will make the meal. I found most of the
ingredients in this cookbook to be economical and still
interesting. I especially enjoyed the recipes where you are
cooking with wine and making quick sauces.
Recipes that look Delicious:
Feta and Black Olive Pizza
Broiled Soy Salmon
Brewpub Fried Fish
Butternut Squash Soup
Spiced Vegetable Kebabs
Sabra’s Meringue Kisses
Lightning Chicken Curry
If you feel you are often forced to make alternative choices
like fast food at the drive through or frozen meals, you will
enjoy this book. Tod’s philosophy will inspire you to enjoy
cooking again as you delve into the pleasure and creativity of
I love the way this book is written. It is as fun to make the
recipes in the kitchen as it is to read the anecdotes and
humorous quips while sitting on the couch.
~The Rebecca Review
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