I realized this week that I haven’t yet gotten around to sharing the cookbooks I got for Christmas. You guys know me – I’m a sucker for cookbooks, so there are always several on my holiday wish list. A couple of the John Besh cookbooks I got this year are so gorgeous that I haven’t actually cooked from them yet because I’m too wrapped up in the pictures and the stories!
However, I have been cooking quite a bit from another cookbook I got: Good and Cheap – Eat Well on $4 a Day. I tend to spend too much on groceries and have a lot of cookbooks that call for fancier ingredients, but put this on my wish list to get some ideas for getting things back to basics a bit and it has definitely served that purpose well! I actually enjoy the premise of this book. It’s designed with foods and budgets that you could make work with the US Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka food stamps), so that families could make healthier meals on limited budgets. It also started as a Kickstarter campaign and has a cool buy one/give model, in which one is donated to a lower income family for every one that is purchased. Such a great way to give back AND the food is actually good and practical! Win, win!
The recipes included range from breakfast and dinner to snacks and desserts and are all very approachable. Even a beginner cook could follow these instructions and I think this would actually be a particularly good cook book for poor college students just starting out as cooks. 🙂 There are a variety of flavor profiles and ethnic cuisines included as well, which demonstrates that you can get a lot bang for your buck with food if you’re thoughtful in your approach!
We made PB&J bars from the books, which were quick and simple (but crumbly, which she warned in the recipe description!). Oliver loved the taste and I loved how easy they were!
One of my favorite recipes, which I’ve made at least four times now, is a deceptively simple combination of flavors that I’m really loving: Brussel sprouts with eggs. Weird, right? It totally works though and takes less than 10 minutes to throw together! The original recipe calls for black olives, which I swapped out for roasted red peppers because I prefer the flavor. Saute shredded brussel sprouts with the roasted red peppers and a little olive oil, with salt and pepper to taste. When the brussel sprouts have started to soften, crack a couple of eggs in the dish on top of them and put a lid on to catch the steam. Let it set for a couple of minutes but not too long – you want the egg yolks to be a little runny. Top it with a little lemon juice (crucial!) and serve. So simple, but delicious! The combination of flavors really works. This has become my go-to healthy dinner when Darrell and Oliver are eating pizza or something similar.
In addition to the recipes, there are loads of tips about smart shopping in the grocery store, basic equipment you need in the kitchen to do these and other recipes, (and it truly is a basic list! No uni-taskers!), a chart of seasonal produce and tips for using leftovers creatively. Mixed among the recipes are also sections about techniques that can be used for broader purposes than just a single recipe, like making your own croutons or cooking dried beans or putting together “bubble and squeak.”
I’m definitely going to keep this on my gift idea list for anyone interested in getting into cooking, as it was really accessible and had some great ideas inside!
What’s your favorite unexpected flavor combination?
As always, all opinions are my own. This was a Christmas gift, so no perks to me or affiliate links or anything for telling you about it!