Monday, 12 August 2013

"Give Them Something Better" - A Recipe Review

I discussed this cookbook previously. Now I've had the opportunity to try a few more recipes, so I'd like to review them. 
First a comment on the pancake recipe that I previously reviewed. Not only did I use regular whole wheat flour rather than whole wheat pastry flour, but I discovered that my baking powder was outdated. So my ingredients were at fault for the dense, heavy pancakes. I haven't had a chance to retry the recipe with proper ingredients, yet.
I'd also like to comment on the stay-flat binding: while it may help the cookbook to stay open while being used, I think it makes the actual binding fragile and the whole cookbook shifts inside the cover and I have to peel the back cover off and reapply it to get it to close properly. 
Have you ever used soy curls? (See They are apparently made from the whole soybean, and non-GMO, so a much better product than TVP (textured vegetable protein). As a dry product, they have a long shelf life and are quite versatile. From this cookbook, I learned how to prepare them to make them "sort-of-like" chicken, then made the Bar-B-Q Chicken Sandwich (p. 96) and the Chicken Salad (p. 46). Both were delicious. For the Bar-B-Q Chicken Sandwich, I was lazy and used a commercial barbecue sauce, but the recipe offers a home-made version as well. Looking forward to trying it. It looks fairly straightforward. Both of these recipes I found to be a little on the salty side, so you may want to keep that in mind. 
A nice feature of this cookbook are the menu suggestions that are included with all of the recipes in the Main Meals section. With my chicken salad, I also had the Split Pea Soup (p. 46) and the All American Salad (p. 26). I found the soup to have good flavour, but it was too thick. I actually made it yesterday and it was more like stew. After sitting for a day, given split peas tendency to thicken further, it was pretty much a solid mass. One would either have to add extra liquid (though I'm not sure what pot I would use, given that this recipe calls for 12 cups of water...) or reduce the amount of split peas. Probably 3 cups instead of four. The salad recipe just gives a list of ingredients, no measurements. That's fine with me. That way I can add more of my favourites and I was quite satisfied with the results. The suggested dressing is Ranch and it gives the page number for the recipe (p. 34). This recipe requires a commercial product, Saucy Ranch Seasoning. I don't have it and I don't know where to get it. However, another cookbook, ,Seven Secrets Cookbook: Healthy Cuisine Your Family Will Love, does have a recipe for a Ranch-style dressing mix. And it tastes pretty authentic, too. So that's what I used and was pleased with the outcome. 
I might have mentioned before that this cookbook will probably not become one of my favourites, and that opinion still holds true. There are some recipes I have definitely enjoyed, but my concerns remain: not all the recipes are as healthy as they could be, too much use of convenience foods. And that annoying stay-flat binding. But this cookbook will remain in my library. As is true of any cookbook, it's not likely that I will love every recipe in it, but there are enough in this one that I do like to justify it taking up shelf-space.