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The Old Farmer's Almanac Everyday Cookbook
ISBN: 1571984631
Publisher: Yankee Publishing
Publication date: August 2008
Format: Hardcover
List price: $24.95
Sample recipe:French Farmer's Baked Beef and Barley
Intended audience: novice advanced beginner good home cook gourmet professional
Apparent goal: stocking stuffer sampler comprehensive coffee-table Biblical stature
Competition: outclassed follower in the pack strong challenger likely champ
Variety: too little too much unusual nice mix just right
# of recipes: <50 <100 <200 <300 ≥300
Practical recipes: <20% <40% <60% <80% ≥80%
# of ingredients: ≤4 ≤7 ≤10 ≤12 >12
Ingredient hunt: 7-Eleven airfare required online pantry supermarket
Recipe complexity: too hard simple medium challenging professional
Instructions: inadequate verbose bare-bones full-figured educational
Time conscious: unconscious outright lies white lies realistic honorable
Cooking time: weekend project takes all day takes time ≥30 minutes <30 minutes
Added info: zip overwhelming scant balanced generous
Photos/drawings: none distracting decorative instructive glorious
Recipe results: ≤dorm food casual food family meals fancy food fit for royalty
Nutritional info: none overwhelming hit or miss adequate comprehensive
Tone: food police intense neutral supportive comforting
Result: guilt-inducing heavy-handed balanced encouraging inspiring
Format/Ease of Use
Layout: ugh cluttered fine considerate work of art
Legibility: unpleasant challenging tolerable clear brilliant
Production quality: cheesy dubious years of service gift quality stunning
Page numbers: non-existent hard-to-find spotty sufficient every page
Table of contents: AWOL frustrating passable useful excellent
Index quality: none tragic adequate good a treasure
Page flipping: upsetting tedious acceptable rare never
Writer: beginner food writer writing cook personality auteur
Cook: unknown self-taught chef teacher celebrity
Fulfills ambitions: falls short almost there satisfactory exceeds home run
Flavor delivered: sad inconsistent tasty delicious exceptional
Overall tone: sterile trying too hard straightforward best friend mom
Value: ouch! a little pricey worth splurging on the money a deal
Overall rating: skip it good very good excellent Ochef Top 100

Comments:There are a number of good, all-purpose cookbooks on the market. The stated goal of this one is to provide "recipes for nutritious food that isn't too fancy, doesn't take too long to prepare and put on the table, and just maybe tastes like what your parents and grandparents used to serve." It probably does a very good job of meeting that goal.

The recipes are from employees of the company that publishes the almanac, from its Web site, and from winners of various almanac cooking contests held over the years. We are not generally big fans of contest-winning recipes; the recipes often color a little too far outside the lines. But as a collection of 400 recipes, it looks like the editors have made their selections well.

There are certainly some anomalies, though the Basic Vinaigrette that contains no vinegar (using lemon juice instead), a steak is not rare at 140F and medium rare at 160F, and for the Orange-Cream Cheese Spread for the Orange Nut Bread, surely the whole peel should not go into the food processor with the seeded flesh of the orange. Who wants all that pith? Shouldn't it just be the zest, instead? Also to our understanding, Baked Ziti and American Chop Suey have never been the same thing. Finally, quite a number of the canning recipes don't specify processing times.

The biggest problem we have with this book, however, is that the recipes want you to cook your meats to death. Keeping a turkey in the oven until the breast meat reaches 180F is a recipe for nothing less than shoe leather. If that's what the preface means by dishes that possibly "taste like what your parents and grandparents used to serve," then we have a problem. But for that, we would have rated this book more highly. Keep your meats a little on the cool side, and you'll probably think that this is a wonderful book.


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