Sunday, September 29, 2019

Hack Your Cupboard

Hack Your Cupboard is a tutorial guide for cooks who are learning their way around the kitchen as well as for readers who want to change up their standard 'what should I cook tonight' menus to make them a little less boring, with the ingredients available on hand.

Due out 1st Oct 2019 from Lerner on their Zest Books imprint, it's 208 pages and will be available in ebook, paperback, and library bound formats.

There were several really neat features here. First, no matter what skill level the reader has currently (including 'cereal for dinner' as they say in the book), there is usable information here. More advanced cooks can move on to relevant information for their skill level. The authors presuppose no familiarity with cooking, and whether you are learning at the beginning (scrambled eggs, tossing a salad, making vinaigrette) or more advanced, there are tips and suggestions.

I loved the suggested pantry staples lists. They're useful basic and bare bones. I remember when I moved into my first apartment alone and found a pantry list (from a library book), it included things I'd never used, like capers. I've lived decades without looking at a caper or pickled artichoke heart. This book includes no-nonsense sensible ingredients lists which are easily sourced, inexpensive (except potentially the -good- balsamic vinegar which is a staple and quality counts), and easy to use.

There are sections for dorm cooking, food safety (important!), first apartment pantry, cooking (with recipes), and a simple celebratory dinner menu, for a date night or convincing one's mother that nobody is in danger of starving to death since they moved away from home.

Each of the recipes provides serving sizes, ingredients lists, step by step simple instructions as well as sidebar graphics with alternate preparation and ingredients to add some variation. None of the recipes include nutritional information (outside the scope of the book). Most of the recipes are pictured with serving suggestions such as dips, sides, etc. There are sidebars scattered throughout with 'hacks' for things like crushing garlic, spicing up your ramen with other seasonings (sambal oelek, gochujang, or harissa, all available at a well stocked international grocery store), and more. 

This would make a superlative addition to a 'moving out' care package for newly independent youngsters/singles/newlyweds, etc. I was impressed enough with the book that I am planning on buying one for each of my kids who are moving (or have moved) out on their own.

Five stars. There's a lot to love here.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes  

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