Friday, June 1, 2012

Review: The Kitchen Counter Cooking School ~ Kathleen Flinn

TITLE:  The Kitchen Counter Cooking School. How A Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks

AUTHOR: Kathleen Flinn

PUBLISHED: September 29th 2011 by Viking Adult 

PAGES: 304

WHY I READ THIS: I found this title on netgalley and I've been contemplating my eating patterns for quite awhile. Plus I can always use help in the kitchen. The whole premise of this book appealed to me

After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, writer Kathleen Flinn returned with no idea what to do next, until one day at a supermarket she watched a woman loading her cart with ultraprocessed foods. Flinn's "chefternal" instinct kicked in: she persuaded the stranger to reload with fresh foods, offering her simple recipes for healthy, easy meals.
The Kitchen Counter Cooking School includes practical, healthy tips that boost readers' culinary self-confidence, and strategies to get the most from their grocery dollar, and simple recipes that get readers cooking.

This book was right up my alley. Did you know that if you tell people you can't cook, they believe you? Even if you make something really good, fancy and yummy they will still think of you as the person who can't cook. And guess what, after a while, you begin to think of yourself that way too. It's not a defeatist attitude, it's more a morphing that you forgot you really can cook somewhat.

And that's where I am now. I can cook I suppose, but I sure don't feel like I can. I had no confidence and I was the lady loading up on frozen pizza and boxed dinners. After I read Barbara Kingsolvers book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle that really started to bug me. 

But I didn't think I actually could do much about it. Until this crazy chef went and pointed some easy stuff out to a lady in a supper market. And then gave a class to a bunch of ladies who were in the same boat. 

The first half of the book seemed a bit more like a 'foodalogue' I guess. But then I read this in two distinct sections since I started with an egalley that expired....BUT I liked the book well enough that I just had to finish it SO I bought a copy. Now hows that for and endorsement!...

anyway, after a while she really got into the cooking and the instructions and the tips that actually do make a difference! I had used whole chickens before in my life (my poorer life) but I'd gotten away from it and I never had learned how to KEEP stock (I could make it but it looked gross and I didn't know how to store it) But I learned from the book what to do. And bought a whole bird today. And guess was on sale for .88 per pound. Yup for a whole chicken! mine was less than 5.00 and I get 2 or 3 'can's of stock, and a couple meals. SWEET!

So you know I only gave this book 3.5 stars, but I may rethink that because I did enjoy it. I think I would have like MORE class time and more one on one conversations with the students and how they really did or did not adapt their lessons to their life.

I really did highlight quite a few things in the book. Like a 'lightbulb' passage on how kids metabolize processed foods get addicted to them at very young ages. It tells a chilling story of rats, processed high fat, high sugar foods, dopamine and addiction. It may not be just a bratty kid having a meltdown for fast food frys. It may be much sadder than that. 

She tried an experiment (long about page 212) where she put post it notes on food items she bought. especially produce and if they went bad and she had to throw them away, she put their post-it note inside a cupboard door and then after a week she added up how much she had thrown out. Plus just seeing the monetary value of what was in the crisper helped her avoid the toss-it guilt and prompted her to think how to use things up. (hint hint ~ Soup!)

All in all though I found this book, instructive, entertaining, interesting, and helpful. Above all I simply enjoyed it!!

Maybe enough to not worry about what anyone else thinks of my cooking and just let myself cook :)


  1. This is a recipe using a whole chicken that people are always asking me to make.
    Chinese Simmered Chicken:
    For some reason, it's not displaying correctly unless you click on the 3x5 recipe link. I usually double the sauce part of the recipe.

    1. Yum! I printed that right out and hope to try it this week yet. Always love a new recipe!