Overly simple to read, but works
Lorena Harito/Metro Toronto
Our writer served this successful meal following the recipes from cookbook Starting Out, perhaps an overly simple read.
Starting Out: The Essential Guide To Cooking On Your Own
Author: Julie Van Rosendaal
Price: $16.47 (Amazon.ca)
*** (out of five)
As a student, I can barely tell the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon, but I managed, with Julie Van Rosendaal’s cookbook, Starting Out: The Essential Guide To Cooking On Your Own, to cook an entire meal.
It’s a book aimed directly at the youth demographic between the age of 16-21 who, has either moved out on their own, or just wants to learn how to cook. This book divides everything into sections such as “soups,” “breakfast,” “chicken” and “rice and grains,” each with caricatures, like the one on the cover (shown right).
I chose what to cook for some of my closest friends: a basic Greek salad and its dressing; sticky oven-roasted chicken pieces (appetizers), and the main meal was peanut noodles with chicken and veggies. For dessert, a basic lemon cheesecake.
All turned out surprisingly well. However, the end result of this little adventure was a two-hour cleanup — plates and cutlery everywhere, with peanut butter and egg in all corners of the kitchen. Needless to say, the book does not give tips on how to be efficient in using cooking utensils, or cleaning up. My best advice is to clean as you cook.
Yes, I may just be starting out, but this book makes it seem like youths have never even heard of the word cook before. It completely dumbs down everything, such as telling you how to read labels on packages like the “best before date,” and what a single serving means.
It takes you by the hand all the way to the “planning your meals” section. But the most humorous part for me, was a recipe on how to boil an egg. It goes into a lengthy explanation, on not only how to boil, but poach, bake and fry it. Three pages later, and you know exactly what temperature will make the egg soft, medium or hard.
But Starting Out proves it’s more than just a cookbook, with an odd and unexpected “how to do your laundry” section at the very back. Confusing. Here I was thinking it was just a cookbook, but now I’m being told how to do laundry. Helpful motherly advice, I guess.
And if you are confused and bewildered by some of the terms, the glossary of cooking terms clears it all up. So if “boil” and “roast” have never been in your vocabulary before, they might be now.
Admittedly, the book is handy for a new generation that is increasingly being brought up on fast food. It gives all the tidbits of cooking facts that you need to become an expert. I can’t say that it has made me want to be a master chef, and cook all the time, but it has made me less afraid of stepping in the kitchen, and preparing a meal. The overall experience was fun for me, and definitely something I don't normally do.
But I’m afraid most of the book’s readers will opt for the easier way out: canned foods.
Lorena Harito for Metro Toronto
Easy Greek Salad
1/2 small head romaine lettuce
2 ripe tomatoes, diced or 1 pint (500 mL) cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 long English cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced
1/2 cup (125 mL) black olives, whole or sliced
1/4 lb. (125g) feta cheese, crumbled
Basic Vinaigrette, made with red wine or balsamic vinegar, to taste
Squeeze of lemon
Shake of oregano
Cut up veggies. Add the cheese. Pour vinaigrette. Squeeze lemon. Serve.