Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cookbook Watch: quick and easy but don't forget your manners!


Allt Om Mat is as I've told you many times a Swedish food mag - in fact, probably The Swedish Food Mag. I'm not a subscriber, since I started feeling stressed out about getting food mags in the mail - I never had time to read them properly, much less cook from them. However, I buy it from time to time, and I do love their compiled cookbooks. See, they have a test kitchen, and every recipe is *definitely* tested. That's particularly good for unsure cooks, and I refer to all these books as my husbands - he loves them. Their latest offering is called "Snabba & Lätta Favoriter" which translates to "Quick and light favorites", or "Quick and easy favorites". Clever, because these are both quick, light and easy. No recipe has more than 8 ingredients, 600 calories or takes more than half an hour to make. However, they do use shortcuts here and there that I personally probably wouldn't. Frozen veggie mix for a salad? Pre-cooked wheat berries from a can? Well, no. But that's not a big deal, you can always change those things. I like this book as a fast "what can we cook tonight"-alternative.


Life with kids can be very stressful, I'm sure. I don't have any, so I don't really know from experience. But I do know many parents that struggle every day to get dinner on the table, often resorting to fast food alternatives, or at least half-made frozen convenience foods. This is the book for them: Jacob's Hälsokök (Jacob's Healthy Kitchen) Jacob's last name is Wismar, and I'd never heard of him before, but apparently he's worked out his own method for feeding families. It's a little bit like building lego, perhaps. You prepare various things - sauces, starches and bases. You can freeze these, or at least keep in the fridge. When you want to cook, you start with these things, and add on small touches to make it a meal. No more than fifteen minutes, he promises. Sounds pretty good to me! What does strike me when I read the recipes however is that the quantities seem way off. They're intended for four, but... well, if two of the four are very small kids, perhaps. The portion sizes photographed are tiny, so maybe the idea is that we also should eat less?


Det Dukade Bordet av Magdalena Ribbing is not really a cookbook, but a book about proper etiquette in association with food and eating. Magdalena Ribbing is Sweden's Miss Manners, and she's been writing several books and newspaper columns for many years. This book is rather interesting to read, and it can of course be used as a quick guide as well. It has a lot of history, such as why certain glasses are used for specific drinks, and when we started eating certain things in Sweden. I like that it's so modern and updated - after all, a lot of things do change when it comes to what's good manners or not.


Anonymous said...

I just thought about books that aren't just about the cooking of food, but everything around the food tradition. There's a lot! Now there seem to be a trend about food and story-telling. It's about the history of the recipes rather than the actual making of it. I find it very interesting. It's adding something extra to the cooking!

Anne said...

I'm a bit divided on that myself, actually. I do like to read about food, and not just recipes, but.. I think I still prefer "straight" cookbooks. It seems to be a trend to include more information, and like you say, more story-telling. And many include fact-boxes, "the origins of chocolate" and stuff like that, and.. I'm not that interested in those sort of things. It can be distracting, too! I think my ideal cookbooks still remain the ones with a little bit of chattiness, but mostly recipes. (Nigella Lawson rules.)