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did I use regular whole wheat flour rather than whole wheat pastry flour, but I discovered that my baking powder was outdated.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 http://www.butlerfoods.com/). 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.