Sunday, October 10, 2010

With some books you just know you're going to love them...

Last week, I wrote that America's Test Kitchen's Healthy Family Cookbook had arrived.  I was so excited to start trying recipes.  It was very interesting to peruse through it.  One of my favorite cookbooks is America's Test Kitchen's Family Cookbook (minus the healthy title).  I've had it for three or four years and have a bunch of favorite recipes in it.  Basically, that cookbook is an updated, modern version of Betty Crocker or the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.  There's more flavor and spice in America's Test Kitchen's recipes than in the two I just mentioned.  When I heard the Healthy Family version was coming out, I was very curious.  We strive to eat healthy foods, but we have our share of foods that we love that aren't so good for us, too.  Overall, though, I think we try to eat healthy foods.  I also am always on the look out for good low fat recipes because they inspire me to cook and eat better.

When I first opened this cookbook, I noticed that a few sections are different than the regular family cookbook such as stir-fries and curries and kid pleasing foods.  Though I haven't tried any of the stir fry sauce recipes yet, I am looking forward to it!

For the most part, the recipes in this cookbook are different than in the original cookbook, though a few have only minor changes.  It is a different cookbook.  I was most curious about the baking recipes.  I tried the brownie recipe and was wowed by it!  Last night, I made the oatmeal raisin cookies and when my neighbor tried them, her eyes widened.  She loved them and so did I!  I made the Butternut squash soup this week--which was very good though it didn't need the extra vegetable broth added to it.  I made several other recipes along the way including the strawberry banana smoothie and all have turned out well.  I also made the Chinese chicken salad.  I was so surprised at how they made it lowfat!  I still added 2 Tbsp of sugar because I do like it just a tad sweet, but that's a far cry from the 1/2 cup sugar in my original recipe that I've been making for 10 years.  With one recipe I did skip a couple of their steps because it simply wasn't practical for me and the recipe still did turn out okay.  But, in general, you do need to follow the recipe's directions in these two cookbooks.  They often add different quirky and unexpected steps in that make the recipes come out better work.

One big difference that I noticed in this cookbook was that the recipes are either designated Fast or they have no time identifier.  In the original cookbook, there was a prep time identified which I usually found inaccurate for me (and I am a quick cook).  So, I suppose it's probably wiser to omit the prep time estimation altogether.

I liked the philosophy that this cookbook had about food.  It was moderate, middle of the road and wasn't extreme.  I typically do choose lowfat over nonfat products.  When products go the way of nonfat, many artificial ingredients are added in.  The other bits of advice scattered throughout this cookbook about cooking equipment and ingredients is all very helpful.

I highly recommend this cookbook.  But, I have one last piece of advice.  What I did with my original cookbook is get a separate binder and take my favorite recipes and put them inside sheet protectors.  I will likely do the same with my favorite recipes from this one.  It is a large binder with thin, magazine thickness pages.  It is durable enough for looking through once in a while, but if you use it constantly, the pages just won't hold up.

If you're looking for one family cookbook, I'd recommend this one first--simply because the recipes are healthier.  But, the original family cookbook is wonderful as well.  They compliment each other!

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Boston Common Press.

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