"There are two motives for reading a book; one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it." — Bertrand Russell

Friday, 6 February 2015


This is my first cookbook review, so pardon me for any mistakes. Leanne Brown is a food-studies scholar and avid homecook in NYC by way of Canada. She released this book as a free PDF and after it went viral online, raised funds for prints.  For each one sold , a second copy will be given to a person or family who cannot afford it. In the author's words, she designed the recipes to fit the people on SNAP or food stamps in America.

But, the book is not only for the people on tight budget, but also for foodies across the world who seek food that nourishes the body as well as satisfies the taste buds. At first glance, I was drawn into the book by its catchy title and the big foodie in me started poking me to see what this simple looking book has to offer. It is tastefully designed and magnificently illustrated with color photos. After few handful tips on how to eat and shop well economically and some pantry basics- what you must have in your pantry, the book goes straight to the recipes, which are split into chapters for each meal-  Breakfast, Soup and Salad, Snacks, Slides and Small Bites, Dinner, Big Batch, Pantry, Drinks and Desserts.

Each recipe mentions the total expense incurred along with the cost per serving and tries to use as less ingredients as possible without compromising on the taste. The author has separated the add-on ingredients as additions and how to use them for additional flavour and depth. I loved the oatmeal section in the Breakfast ideas, which comprises of seven oatmeal recipes, with the taste varying from milky and sweet to savoury and salty. You’ll learn how to transform ingredients, even leftovers, into miraculous meals.

Instead of just sticking to one or two cuisines as most cookbooks these days do, the author covers Asian, Oceanian along with her native American cuisines and a wide variety of European cuisines. The language is aimed at home cooks and basically new learners. Instead of mere instructions in the procedure, the author suggests what not to do and even why the step is necessary at all. She has also divided some well known recipes into fast and slow methods. So this book serves the beginners really well.

What I missed in this book is the duration of each recipe. But since the book houses really quick and simple recipes with the main limelight on how much you need to spend to get each recipe right, it can be omitted.

So readers seeking what their plating or flavour profiles or techniques say about their personal cooking style, turn away immediately. This book is simply not for the restaurant professionals and the expert. Someone like me, who has just stepped into the art of cooking, the book is the best thing that happened to me. It is like having my mum by my side. 

Many thanks to Netgalley and Workman Publishing Company for an ARC of this book. The book is going to hit the stores on July 14,2015. You can also download a free PDF version from http://www.leannebrown.com/#what-is-good-and-cheap. But remember for every copy you buy, someone not so affluent can lay their hands on the print version of this book.


SKILL LEVEL: Easy and Medium

WHO THIS BOOK IS FOR: Beginners and Intermediate

WHO THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR: Professionals and Experts

RECIPES TO TRY: Oatmeal (page 17), Yogurt Smash (32), Lightly Curried Butternut Squash Soup (40), Spicy Panzanella (51), Poutine (74), Beef Stroganoff (108), Spicy, Crunchy Creamy Polenta (124), Chana Masala (133), Deviled Eggs 8 ways (148), Pierogi (150), Tzatziki (158), Fast Melon Sorbet (148), Peach Coffee Cake (192).

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