Monday, February 21, 2011

THE GOOD NEIGHBOR COOKBOOK

The Good Neighbor Cookbook: 125 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Surprise and Satisfy the New Moms, New Neighbors, Recuperating Friends, ... Cohorts and Block Party Pals in Your Life!Reviewing a cookbook before I have tried a recipe doesn't seem quite right. But I figure if I am honest about it here at the beginning, you can decide whether you want to check out this book or not.

As many of you know, I have been working hard on balance.  I started 2011 off with Things I Am Thinking About for This Year and many of those included balance. I have also added exercise back into my life and was happy to read RUN LIKE A MOTHER and to learn that fitting exercise is hard for everyone.    From the comments I've received on these posts, it seems many of us constantly struggle with balance. It is an ongoing goal. I am also trying to be nicer--a better person. So, I was interested in THE GOOD NEIGHBOR COOKBOOK when I heard about it a few weeks ago. The book is filled with 125 recipes to cook for others--for new mothers, new neighbors and friends who are ill. It also includes recipes for social events such as block parties and book clubs.

Like the authors in the book, I have a few staple meals and items that I take to others when needed. They are fine recipes but not always quite right and a little boring for me after a while. This book is divided into sections based on events. The premise is that you might bring different things to a new mom than you would a recuperating friend. A few page intro at the beginning of each section helps explain the thinking behind the choices. For example, a few "flavorful but not overpowering" meals that are good for friends going through chemotherapy. Dishes that "travel well" for block parties, etc. These authors have really thought through things beyond just sharing recipes.

I don't often like cookbooks without photos.  I like to see what it is I am making--what it is supposed to look like.  But, this one doesn't have photos and I still like it. Here is why: the recipes seem simple enough and are explained well enough, that I don't think I need a picture. They are interesting recipes--not your same-old recipes, but they are simple, not too complicated.

I do go into phases like this. A few years ago, when I was in a balancing mood, I purchased a book at a Southern Living party called CHRISTMAS GIFTS FROM THE KITCHEN.  My friends (you know who you are...) laughed at me, at this vision I had for myself. But I must say, 2-3 of my favorite staple recipes have come from that book and they are always a hit. I feel like this new book might be the same for me. One I can go back to for years and find a recipe here and there to add to my usuals.

As of now, there are several recipes I'd like to try--of course I will try any recipe before I give it to a friend. Here are the first few I hope to try:

Creamy Tomato Baked Ravioli and Spinach
Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins
Barbecue Spiced Chicken with Southwestern Slaw
Crustless Spinach Quiche
Cold Sesame Noodle Salad
Peanut Crunch Cookies

The authors of this book also have a great blog that you'll want to check out. I read it for a few weeks before I decided that I must have this book. The blog is filled with recipes, stories and more. You can read more about the authors here too.

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