Review: RECIPES OF A DUMB HOUSEWIFE by Lorina Stephens

A very nice glossy trade paperback, Recipes of a Dumb Housewife by Lorina Stephens is filled with cost-efficient, nutritious recipes accompanied by short descriptions of the origins or other comments pertaining to ingredients. The classics are covered in various categories such as supper and brunch dishes (beef stroganoff, chicken pie), pasta (mac and cheese, tomato sauce), soups (potato and chicken), salads, breads, sweets and condiments. Happily, most of the ingredients can be found in the average kitchen cupboard. But there are a few recipes thrown in that have a more exotic flair (spicy spinach and golden beet soup, barm bread) that may lead to a fair amount of ingredient substitution – which is fine as it’s well within the spirit of this cookbook. There are other recipes that were obviously born in the author’s kitchen, and she encourages the use of whatever you happen to have on hand too. I would question though whether it’s the wisest thing to name a dish ‘Green Goo Pasta’. That kind of whimsy might work within the family but may fall flat with the buying public. The photo of this dish on the author’s website thankfully shows a dish much more appetizing than the name implies. So far I’ve made three of the recipes (starving student salad, chick pea salad as well as the guacamole), adding my own variations and they all turned out nicely. I’m looking forward to trying the mushroom tarts.

There is a page devoted to use of herbs, barm (apparently something leftover after brewing homemade beer) and equipping ones’ kitchen. Here the author suggests that a bread machine is a kitchen must-have. Hmmm, I’m not sure I agree. It’s convenient, certainly, but a necessity? Cutlery is necessary, plates yes, but a bread machine?

An introduction of the author’s background starts the book off, with an explanation of the title. When taken in context, the title doesn’t seem so offensive, quite the opposite actually. She also covers the measurements used in the recipes, saying some are imperial and some metric, rather oddly likening it to bilingual labeling on Canadian food products as being in “French and Canadian”.

All in all this is a very nice cookbook with a mix of classic and new recipes.



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