The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks by Kathleen Flinn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I was captivated by the book's beginning in which Kathleen Flinn tells about becoming interested in a woman and daughter grocery shopping. Fascinated by the prepackaged and "mix" foods in her cart, she began stalking them and eventually wound up helping them replace all the highly processed meals with the ingredients for homemade. Key to this was scribbling recipes and simple instructions.
This encounter led to Flinn's epiphany that there is a generation of women (and people in general, actually) who don't have the first idea of how to cook. Never taught to cook by their parents, they are equally ignorant of nutrition. Flinn selected 10 worthy candidates and began her Kitchen Counter Cooking School to educate not only them as cooks but also herself in the ways of how to communicate simple kitchen knowledge.
I would find the beginning hokey except that I know one young woman who is in exactly these straits, never having been taught to cook and now having a family to feed. After getting over my own surprise, I have begun showing her a few techniques and recipes. This book is for those who have no one to do the same for them.
I didn't really care about the chapters where Flinn broke away from the school to tell about a stint cooking for a cruise or putting on a series of dinners to raise money for the school. They distracted from the point of the book for me. I'm glad that she has a good marriage and I suppose it is nice that her husband finds it sexy that she bounces up and down in her chair when the black truffle risotto is served. I don't care. These chapters seemed as if they belonged in a different book. However, they are easy to skim and others, perhaps, may have enjoyed them much more than I did. They cost the book a star through.
Overall, The Kitchen Counter Cooking School is well written and enjoyable, as well as carrying strands of information about food processing and eating habits in the U.S. today. It is also thought provoking, no matter your level of ability in the kitchen. None of us is above reproach. The author herself is prompted to do self-examination of her own habits and realizes that she wastes a lot of food. Likewise, I was reminded of the same thing (we know and then we forget, such is the pattern of life, non?). I will be examining my cupboards for aged supplies and my refrigerator for items that can be used before I wind up following my pattern of tossing them out in a week, withered and soft.