Crack Books

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert by Crack Books

Eat, Pray, Love Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I hate reading bestsellers. Maybe this is a stupid prejudice, or maybe it proves what a snob I am, but in general, I’ve found that I’m more often disappointed when I read a book that supposedly “everyone” loves.

I am not everyone. Books should not be written for EVERYONE. That’s my opinion.

Still, I had heard good things about Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, and I was on a travel writing kick (not in the “I’m gonna read a ton of guidebooks!” way, but in the sense of reading personal travelogues that really explore a few destinations in depth), plus I had really enjoyed her TED talk on the nature of genius, so I requested a copy from the library.

I’m glad I did. She’s a really excellent writer, very funny, and tells great stories. I made it through all of Italy and most of India with her, and I’m dying to know what happened in Indonesia with the Holy Man. (Wouldn’t you know it? Someone else put a hold on the damn thing, so I had to return it before I finished reading.)

So I’m giving this book 4 outta 5 stars, because I’m glad to have discovered Gilbert’s writing, despite the fact that the hoardes have already embraced her (oh, and the whole chick-lit label didn’t really help her cause, and this is a pretty girly book, but I got past it). Check it out if you’ve ever thought “Yeah, this isn’t really what I wanted to do with my life…”

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Three “fast food” cookbooks by Crack Books

Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express: 404 Inspired Seasonal Dishes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express: 404 Inspired Seasonal Dishes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less by Mark Bittman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Love the way these recipes are broken down by season. This is a bit of a weird cookbook, though, as it’s mostly about combining the same types of ingredients over and over in different ways. Bittman is a minimalist, so it’s about having the kitchen stocked and ready to go, and then just mixing and matching flavors. So the “recipes” aren’t very involved, and it takes a bit more work to get your kitchen set up to do these in 20 minutes or less, but it’s an interesting way to do things. Plus it’ll help you start trusting your instincts more, which is always a good way to be in the kitchen. Recommended for anyone looking for interesting new recipes that can be cooked in even the crummiest, tiniest of NYC apartment kitchens.

Jacques Pepin More Fast Food My Way Jacques Pepin More Fast Food My Way by Jacques P├ępin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Pepin is, like Bittman, a bit of a minimalist, but his concentration is on “fast food” made fresh from good ingredients. This is definitely not your McDonald’s fast food! It’s healthy yet indulgent. I’m not sure what’s up with all his damn fruit-for-dessert recipes (fruit is not a dessert, in my opinion), but aside from that, he’s got lots of unique recipes that can be whipped up in about 20-30 minutes. Plus there’s plenty of food porn pix here to get you salivating. Looking forward to trying them!

Jamie's Italy Jamie’s Italy by Jamie Oliver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I like Jamie. He, like Bittman and Pepin, is also focused on fast and healthy meals, but he’s a bit sloppy when it comes to measurements. What constitutes a “small bunch”? How much is “some”? I mean, once you’ve got your bearings in the kitchen, you can probably sort it out, but if you’re a new cook you might be intimidated by this “cooking by feel” method. However, I mainly checked this one out of the library for the amazing-looking Italian pizzas, and I’m looking forward to trying some of his unusual ingredient pairings. Plus baking your own pizza is cheap yet impressive. (Just gotta find me a damn marble slab… gah!)

Oh: If you like Jamie, I would also highly recommend his iPhone/iPod Touch app. It’s only $4.99, and totally worth it for the videos that’ll teach you how to not be afraid of buying (and eating) fish, and how to work your knife skills, and that kind of thing, along with some of his fast, fresh recipes. He’ll also convince you that you MUST HAVE a mortar and pestle. Really. (P.S. You can download it here:…)

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