Title: The Kitchen Counter Cooking School
Author: Kathleen Flinn
Published: 2011 Pages: 274
Genre: Non-Fiction; Cooking
In Short: Struggling to find use for her culinary know-how, author and chef Kathleen Flinn gathers nine ametuer cooks and teaches them simple yet helpful lessons in the kitchen—everything from knowledge of knives to making soup to roasting a chicken.
Why I read it: I first paid attention to this one when Lisa of Lit and Life reviewed it and then Kim of Sophisticated Dorkiness read it. And then when Peppermint PhD reviewed it I immediately decided to recommend this one to my mom and sisters for our 2012 group read.
Thoughts in General: I loved this book. I think that the timing was perfectly right for me to read The Kitchen Counter Cooking School. I’ve been thinking about my own eating, especially as I’ve been really paying attention to Elle’s eating, and I started it around the same time that Scott and I started our Eat it Real challenge. I’m fairly confident in the kitchen but I don’t have a lot of skills—I’m eager to learn (thank you Ms. Beth Fish for letting me question your ear off) and am willing to make the mistakes to get the best end product. In that way I feel as though I differ from the other women in the book who didn’t have a lot of kitchen confidence and didn’t enjoy cooking. I may not be the best cook but I love cooking and experimenting.
The Kitchen Counter Cooking School is divided into chapters by different Lessons. These range everywhere from the correct way to hold and use a knife to knowing the taste of your ingredients to making use of what’s in your fridge to understanding just what’s in that box you’re using. Each chapter contains anecdotes from the individual lessons, progress reports from the various participants, a bit of history or background, and then a recipe or two. I read this book rather slowly—maybe over two months—and the individual lessons made the book easy to pick up and put down. Honestly I’m not sure that this is one you would want to read really quickly!
Even though not all of the material was new material for me, I had so many Aha! moments while reading this book. Keeping a bowl next to your chopping board for discard scraps? Duh! Different spice and oil parings for flavor inspired meals? Awesome! Hand holding while I work up the courage to roast a whole chicken for the first time? Thank you! And many many more. While very seasoned cooks might not get as much out of this book as I did, I think that there is something for everyone. My only wish is that there would be more diagrams and pictures to go along with some of the instruction. For example, I had to actually pick up a knife so I could visualize how Flinn was describing the correct way to hold.
And…I didn’t think that this review could be complete without attempting to roast a whole chicken for the first time (roasting a whole chicken is a big deal in the book). Overall it turned out great! Except, I think I need to review my chicken anatomy as I roasted it breast down with all the spices on the backbone. Oops!
Bottom Line: This is a book that I will refer to time and time again and know that I could re-read it and pick up so many more tips. While it would be impossible for my cooking methods to change overnight based on this book, I found it very eye opening and I am much more aware now of how fresh my spices are, the best way to cut that onion, how simple it is to whip up a tasty and healthy meal. I recommend this book to anyone who would love a few little lessons in the kitchen—there is something for everyone to take away. Personally I’ll keep this one right next to the rest of my cook books!
Are you confident in the kitchen? How did you learn to cook?
Every weekend, Beth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking. “Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.” Hope you’ll join the fun!