Friday, June 27, 2008

Book Review - Cheap. Fast. Good.

In my endless quest to find the perfect cookbook I check out tons of them from the library. I love it when I find one that seems to have been written with me in mind. Such is the case with Cheap. Fast. Good! by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross. When I buy a cookbook I go through it page by page and put post-it notes on the recipes I would like to try. As you can see from the picture, there were lots in this book! However, the recipes aren't the only reason to buy this book. It is filled with tips and ideas for how to cut your food budget. There is a section in the back where the authors describe their experience trying to feed their families for under $100 a week. The post the actual menus they used and notes on their experiences. Now, for us, ahem, seasoned homemakers (read: old), some of the advice might seem like stuff we learned already. For a beginning cook the advice is invaluable. In fact, this book is my standard wedding shower gift - I've probably bought eight copies in the last two years to give to new brides at church.

However, with the rising cost of food, I find myself turning to this book and the ideas and tips more and more. It is good for even us "seasoned" cooks to be reminded of all those basics. Some of the informational sections include such topics as "How to use up a big hunk of ham," "Making school lunches reasonable," "Super potato toppers (different things to put on top of baked potatoes)," "Making your own convenience items," and a look at "what keeps you out of the kitchen" and how to overcome it!

But really, you buy a cook book for the recipes, and this book is full of good ones. Especially if you have children in your home, these are winners. My favorite recipe is "Good Ol' Beans and Rice" on pg. 173. This page is splattered and stained, a testament to how often it is used (I actually almost have it memorized). Others that I love are Mu-Shu Pork at Home, Mindless Meatball Minestrone, Onion Chopped Steak with Easy Gravy, and Winter Roasted Carrots.

I really like this cookbook and would recommend it to anyone who is trying to feed a family and keep their food budget under control.

Winter Roasted Carrots (Jill's Reader's Digest Condensed version - the the actual cookbook for a much more detailed and, I'm sure, better worded version!)

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Spray a 9x13-inch pan with cooking spray. Peel and cut 1 lb of carrots into pieces approximately 2 to 3 inches long, 1/2" wide and 1/2" thick.

Place them in the pan. Peel two small or one large onion and quarters, then cut the quarters in half crosswise and add them to the pan.

Peel several cloves of garlic and add the whole cloves to the pan.

Drizzle 1 Tbs. olive oil over the vegetables and then sprinkle them with 1/2 tsp dried thyme an 1/4 tsp salt. Stir and toss the vegetables until they are coated.

Roast, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and drizzle 1 tsp balsamic vinegar over the vegetables and toss. Serve immediately.


  • We add washed, chopped red, russet and/or sweet potatoes to this dish.
  • We have also added red peppers, broccoli, and lots of other things. Basically this recipe is a basic recipe for roasted vegetables and you can add anything that seems like it might be good roasted!
  • Don't leave off the balsamic vinegar. At first it sounded weired to me but it adds an amazing tangy flavor without overwhelming it with vinegar flavor.
  • We add more salt - it just seems to need more salt. Probably not as healthy, but it sure tastes good.
  • We love to mash the roasted garlic cloves and use the "garlic paste" to flavor the rest of the veggies. My kids fight over who gets the garlic so I put LOTS of garlic cloves in there.



1 comment:

Nancy said...

I have two cookbooks by these ladies - love 'em. I've read this one before but now you've made me want to read it again. I'll have to borrow it from the library.