Food & Drink

Cookbook Review | ‘Fresh Made Simple’: excellent for beginners, unique approach for experienced cooks

If graphic novels captivate someone in your house, Fresh Made Simple, may be the key to getting that individual interested in healthy eating and into the kitchen to cook for themselves and maybe the entire family.

This slim volume with 75 easy-to-follow recipes, concentrates on the teaching approach to using fresh food in the kitchen. The book is organized, not by type of recipe or meal, but by cooking method. This unorthodox organization makes it a wonderful introduction to the kitchen for a new cook of any age. However, it is the style of “writing,” depending heavily on the graphics, which sets the Stein and Eberts collaboration apart from other recipe books for kitchen novices. I found the pair’s efforts and especially the drawings, (all in color) to be incredibly artistic as well as evocative. In other words, the drawings cleverly show the foods in process, from original state through prep and show the final product as a tempting treat. For example in one recipe, that final stage includes as showing angel hair pasta on a fork. The drawing made it appear so scrumptious, I almost tried to gobble the pasta right off that two dimensional forkful!

The recipes are indeed worthy of the art. Simplicity is the key to these recipes. What does it mean to “scramble?” If you grew up watching someone cook, you know what roasting, stacking and stuffing mean in a recipe, but if you have never stepped into a kitchen, these terms can be a foreign language. The recipes that exemplify each cooking method utilize fresh ingredients, a few herbs or spices, and with the loving, also simple, explanation of technique, novices are brought into the circle of accomplishment and their success, practically guaranteed. Within each sector, recipes are highlighted by ingredients—both potentially new (like robiola cheese) and familiar (like pecans). Ingredients are given, simple presentation/recipe preparations with art that make you want to start cooking immediately! Users of this book can build on those to create their own recipes in each technique.

If I were teaching cooking to teens, this would be my go-to book. It’s also a good bet for experienced cooks seeking a unique approach to fresh ingredients. If you are in that category, this book may also be a good choice for you. This is definitely the most original approach to using fresh, real ingredients that I have seen in a long time.

Title | Fresh Made Simple

Author | Lauren K. Stein; Illustrated by Katie Eberts

Publisher | Storey Publishing

Price | $18