Category: Chanur (AB)
Monday, was another wonderful Spring day in the lower 60’s (about 17*C). My family went over to the park that has the lake that I have mentioned in these blogs before. This time, I didn’t exercise though.
Yes, I should have...but sometimes just sitting by my husband, in the sun (I confess, I am part feline in this respect), on a rock outcropping, in a clearing, by a waterfall is really all I want. (Our son and Don met us back at the car later). Instead, I sat and thought. Some of what I thought about was a readers blog comment that was left for me this past Sunday.
It made me think, again, about a book that I regularly use as a reference. The person who left the comment is an AB, lives in a mixed blood type household, new to the BTD, feels overwhelmed, and needs recipes. Therefore, in this blog, I would like to recommend a book called How to Cook Without a Book by Pam Anderson (no, not the actress). I have recommended it once before over on the Forums side of this site.
This book does not have anything whatsoever to do with the BTD. Like most cookbooks, the majority of the recipes in it are next to if not completely useless for the BTD (unless “tweaked”). So, why do I want to spend a whole blog recommending it?
Because in it you will find exactly what the title claims: how to cook without a book. It teaches you how to cook from scratch in an easy to understand manner so that you can successfully invent your own recipes or learn how to successfully “tweak” your current ones to fit in with the BTD.
It covers everything from appetizers to desserts. It has both fast and easy recipes and methods as well as somewhat involved ones. Among other things, it talks about how to create your own salads & dressing to go with them. How to prepare proteins and flavorful pan sauces to go with them. How to make decent tasting and relatively fast and fresh weeknight meals.
Once you “get” the concepts that this book teaches I feel I can honestly say that you will truly never ever need another cookbook. You will rarely ever look in your pantry/refridgerator/freezer again and wonder just how you are going to tie together what you have on hand into a palatable meal.
Years ago, back when I was a culinary student, in order to graduate you had to take and pass what was/is called a black box. For those of you not familiar with culinary schools, what this means is this: you are given a black box (now you understand the name) or a bus tub that has a mishmash of ingredients in it.
You have no advance notice of what will be in the box. From those items (and a few other additional pantry/staple type items you have one hour or less to choose from), you must prepare and present a three to five course meal for two people.
During the test, you cannot talk to anyone else. You cannot work with anyone else. You cannot have any notes, cookbooks, or other such aids to help you. You have a time limit in which to plan, prepare, and plate (present) the meal to a panel of chef instructors for tasting, critique, various assorted types of grading, and an overall general score. The conditions under which you prepare this meal are not ideal just as they will not always be ideal in real restaurant kitchens. You must get a cumulative passing score or you do not yet get to advance to your externship. Externship was/is the last step before graduation.
I honestly believe that if someone reads this book and give its concepts a bit of practice that they too could take and pass a real black box test. Flavor(s) would be fine. Technique (read cooking method) would be fine. Appropriate utilization of product (read ingredients) would be fine. Time management would be fine. Their lowest scores would be in the areas of portion sizes and visual eye appeal.
Not because the book teaches badly in those areas, but because those two areas are not really covered. In a restaurant, portion sizes influence pricing which eventually translates into what amount of profit can be made. That is not a consideration for a home cooked meal. BTD portions are also different from SAD portions anyway. I feel the eye appeal part is more a creative form that you get the hang of with practice than something you can be taught in a book.