Clueless in the Kitchen is a "Cookbook for Teens" by Evelyn Raab. Please, do not get the wrong idea; I can picture you all staring rather incredulously at your monitors, snickering to yourself. However, as a teen who considers himself at least fairly competent in the kitchen, this is still a fantastic book. Essentially, it covers the most basic ideas in cooking: the things that most cookbooks--indeed, most people--expect you to already know. If you don't cook, and suddenly find yourself in a position where this is necessary, this book will be a godsend. And yes, while it is certainly geared towards the 'young adult' market, its simplicity should make it attractive to any inexperienced chef.

The thouroughness of this book is remarkable. It truly does start at zero; hell, it starts at more like -5. There is a section on following recipes, a section on the sorts of things you need to have in a kitchen, even a section on what food to put in a cupboard, the fridge, and the freezer. (Freezer: Ice cream, Frozen foods.) It has sections on how to properly clean your fridge, freezer, stove; how to run a dishwasher, and a quick checklist for troubleshooting appliances. Seriously, we're talking basic stuff, here.

After ensuring that your kitchen is functional, it covers shopping. (Supermarket strategy: never shop hungry. buy store brands). This is then broken up into sub-categories on buying fruit, meat, freezer fare: there is even a little little side panel noting what cuts of meat are for the bbq, which are roasts, and which are for pot roast/stew. There is a similar table for cheeses: which cheeses are for sandwiches, which are for cooking/baking, which are for appetizers, and which are good in salads. (For the record: yes, these catagories do overlap. Relax.) While this may seem unbelievably basic to some (hell, myself included) however, to someone who's prior kitchen experience is limited to using a coffee grinder to chop ganj, (no one I know, honest) this stuff is great. The thoroughness of the book is deserving of praise, as well. There's a section on alternative places to do your shopping, with special mention for bulk food, ethnic grocers, and the farmers' market. Another special section deals with buying herbs and spices, and another paragraph about buying eggs. I knew something about food before I owned this book, but this stuff is great.

The cookbook proper is divided into several sections (ten, actually) covering things like breakfast, pasta, desserts, and snacks/munchies. Each section contains a brief outline of the subject matter, and then various simple recipes. Each recipe is accompanied by various icons, each representing various things of note: whether a recipe is cheap to make, whether it is vegetarian, etc. These recipes are for the most part quick and dirty, but are also easy to follow and also easy to embelish, depending on how confident you are in your ability to not screw it all up. In the end, this is still a cookbook I refer to when I want to check something basic, and don't want to have to wade through The Joy of Cooking, or if I want to find a quick, say, pancake recipe I can throw blueberrys in.

This book would make a great gift for a niece or nephew, or to anyone who is looking to learn to cook, or is moving away from home for the first time. Give it a chance, and I suspect you'll probably get something out of it.

Clueless in the Kitchen: A Cookbook for Teens
Evelyn Raab
ISBN: 1-55013-935-5
Key Porter Books Limited - Toronto, Canada
Distributed in the United States by Firefly Books

node your bookcase/node what you eat.

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