26 May 2012

Weekend Cooking: Review/Interview: The Mom 100 Cookbook by Katie Workman

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.


Welcome to a special edition of Weekend Cooking. Today I'm going to introduce you to my new favorite cookbook. I've owned Katie Workman's The Mom 100 Cookbook for only a few weeks, but I've cooked out it so often, I'm not sure it's left the kitchen.

Instead of a conventional review, I'm thrilled to tell you about the book through a short interview I did with Katie. I know she's terribly busy with her book tour, so I'm especially grateful that she took the time to talk to us about The Mom 100 Cookbook.

Before I get to the interview, I want to say a couple of things about the fresh, fun design of the cookbook. I know I've said this a million times, but I think the Workman Publishing cookbook designers are the best, and they did a fabulous job with Katie's book. The photographs are stunning, the colors are appetizing, and the sidebars and fonts catch your eye, inviting you to stop a moment to read and learn. Because I wanted to share the design with you, I scanned one of the recipes we liked instead of typing it out.

Now let's get to the heart of the post. Say hello to cookbook author Katie Workman and listen in while we chat about The Mom 100 Cookbook.

Beth Fish Reads (BFR): The Mom 100 Cookbook is full of useful information that is just perfect for the new cook or anyone who appreciates a little help in the kitchen. Almost every recipe comes with cooking tips, explanations of techniques, serving suggestions, and storage information. Timid cooks will be forever grateful for your longer boxes that talk about equipment, ethnic ingredients, terminology, and food safety. How did you know what kinds of information to provide to your readers? Did you pay attention to questions you asked yourself or were asked by your recipe testers?

Katie Workman (KW): We have so many friends over for meals, and I get asked all kinds of questions, and people always share their kitchen and cooking frustrations with me. And then if a less-confident cook is with me in the kitchen, he or she is often asking, "Why did you do that?" "What are you adding from that can?" So over the years I've gotten a feeling for what kind of information is helpful, and I try to present it in a conversational way, because that's actually how I am usually sharing it.

BFR: Your cookbook has three features that will make it a favorite with real-life families. These are the variations, vegetarian options, and "Fork in the Road." I know busy cooks will turn to your advice time and again when they want to cook a single meal that will appeal to everyone in the group. Can you explain the "Fork in the Road" idea and just how helpful this idea is to the family cook?

KW: The "Fork in the Road" concept is the idea that you can prepare a meal up to a certain point, then separate some of it out, leaving it plainer and simpler for the pickier eaters at the table. Then you continue on with the recipe, adding more flavors, spices, maybe some heat, so that the rest of the dish is more fully seasoned for the more adventurous eaters. Of course you want to encourage the kids to try some of the more flavorful version, and hopefully they'll be ready to give it a go the next time round, but this allows everyone to essentially share the same meal (which feels more like a family dinner), doesn't turn you into a short order cook, and keeps you out of the chicken nugget trap.

BFR: Another aspect of your cookbook that makes it a winner is that you use real ingredients, real food, and a variety of flavors. You don't shy away from canned beans and tomatoes or no-boil lasagna noodles, but you stress fresh veggies whenever practical. What types of dishes, cooking techniques, or flavors help kids eat their vegetables?

KW: Sautéing vegetables in a little bit of butter or olive oil, then steaming them in water to turn the bit of butter into a light glaze is a great technique. Topping tacos with veggies, letting your kids help you put together a vegetable bin soup from whatever you have on hand or picked up at the market, working some veggies into dishes like quesadillas or wraps, all of this works. Roasting is also a great method for cooking vegetables, since the high heat plus a bit of olive oil caramelizes the natural sugars in vegetables, giving them a richness and slight sweetness.

BFR: I'm a strong believer in the idea that if kids help make the food, they'll be more inclined to eat it, so I love your tips called "What the Kids Can Do." Your sense of humor and obvious experience with being in the kitchen with children really shine through. Are either of your sons turning out to be a natural chef?

KW: Both my kids have an interest in the kitchen, and both have been mostly intrigued when I shove my control-mom impulses to one side and let them be inventive. Jack once made pear muffins that were truly delicious, and Charlie has created a house dish called Charlie's Olive Percenter, which are eggs scrambled with sliced pimento-stuffed olives, topped with slices of cucumber. Delicious. The baking soda muffins were less successful.

BFR: Despite your tricks and tips, what types of foods or flavors are still a hard sell for your children?

KW: Fish is the albatross of most parents. Charlie used to really like fish, and Jack was not interested . . . then Jack started to like it and I thought we were almost in the clear, and Charlie started to be pickier about it. Now it's better, but still very much hit or miss, completely mercurial. And Charlie hates scallops--I was making them recently and he asked me if from now on I would only make them when he was out at a sleepover so he wouldn't have to smell them.

BFR: Although the title of your book is The Mom 100 Cookbook, it could just as easily be called the "Working Person's Cookbook." I don't cook for children, but I find myself turning to your recipes time and again. Most of my readers struggle with putting a meal on the table after a very busy day. Which two recipes from the book are your go-to meals when you're too tired to fuss?

KW: First, of all, thanks. And yes, absolutely, some nights it's about speed more than anything else. The Fresh Mozzarella Pasta casserole is the simplest and fastest recipe in the book, I think. And I almost always have the ingredients for the Mexican Tortilla Casserole in the pantry, and it comes together in a snap.

BFR: Finally, I have to ask: What's on the menu for tonight's dinner?

KW: Last night was pork ribs and chicken noodle matzoh ball soup. Possibly one of the few times these two foods have appeared at the same meal. Tonight we are going to DC to visit my sister's family, and we are taking our kids on a long ago-promised trip to Dave and Buster's so I'm quite sure there will be nachos and fries involved.

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us, Katie. I was so pleased to see that the Mexican Tortilla Casserole was one of your go-to recipes for a couple of reasons. First, that's one I've made a couple of times already, and it's a big hit. Second, that's the recipe I planned to share with my readers.

Before I get to the scans, I wanted to let all of you know that Katie Workman is the founding editor-in-chief of the site Cookstr.com, where you can find wonderful cookbook recipes. And don't miss visiting Katie's The Mom 100 Cookbook site. There you'll find videos, tips, and other great information about the book.

Now onto the recipe. To read the recipe, click the images to enlarge (you may have to click a second time to read them clearly), and you'll see just how quickly you'll fall in love with this cookbook. Here's an additional tip for the Mexican Tortilla Casserole. I used 10-inch tortillas because they fit my springform pan better than the 8-inch tortillas. I made the recipe exactly as directed. The only difference was that my stack was a little shorter. Enjoy!

Vegetarian/Vegan alert: Vegetarians will find many recipes to try, including the one I scanned. Vegans should look through the cookbook before buying.

Buy The Mom 100 Cookbook at an Indie, at Powell's, at Book Depository, or at bookstore near you. These links lead to affiliate programs
Published by Workman Publishing, 2012
ISBN-13: 9780761166030
Rating: A
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Marg 5/26/12, 6:09 AM  

Sounds like an excellent cookbook! I enjoyed your review with the author!

Uniflame 5/26/12, 6:31 AM  

This sounds great! I am always looking for quick but healthy meals. And it is great that the book as good vegetarian options. I will have to check this out :)

caite 5/26/12, 7:17 AM  

nice interview...sounds like a very well thought out cookbook.

Cecelia 5/26/12, 7:45 AM  

And now I'm intrigued by that cookbook. I haven't heard of the website she runs, but I do like the various different features that 'come along with' each recipe. I'll have to see if my library has a copy. Thanks for sharing the interview!

Lisa@ButteryBooks 5/26/12, 7:58 AM  

Mexican Tortilla Casserole sounds awesome. I think this is a cookbook I need on my shelf.

Carol @ Always Thyme to Cook 5/26/12, 8:02 AM  

I love your enthusiasm about this cookbook. Have to check this one out, sounds like a great book to add to my cookbook collection.

Are you able to delete my first link? Not sure where the Cider Apples came from but it's linked to the correct taco post. The second link turned out fine. Thanks! Enjoy your weekend and thanks for hosting each week.

Sandy Nawrot 5/26/12, 8:09 AM  

I think I've found my next library conquest. By the way, my last one, the Cook's Illustrated Cookbook (thanks to you as well) was just purchased yesterday. I couldn't live without it.

(Diane) bookchickdi 5/26/12, 8:23 AM  

As you know I reviewed Katie's book a few weeks back, so I really enjoyed your interview. You and Katie have talked me into trying Mexican Casserole tonight for dinner. I agree with about Workman; they always create beautiful cookbooks, and this one is one of their best.

Libby 5/26/12, 8:36 AM  

Great interview!

I like the Fork in the Road concept - and what a clever name for it!

Also, I think it is a great idea to use the springform pan for the tortilla casserole!

bermudaonion 5/26/12, 8:38 AM  

I love the "Fork in the Road" feature! This looks and sounds like a fantastic cookbook!

jama 5/26/12, 9:21 AM  

Enjoyed the interview! Can't wait to get my hands on this book :).

Thanks, both of you!

Joy Weese Moll 5/26/12, 11:04 AM  

What a gorgeous cookbook! It was fun getting to know the author and her process through her interview. Thanks!

Rose City Reader 5/26/12, 12:38 PM  

Great interview! Thanks for taking the time -- it makes the cookbook more interesting to know more about the author.

Margot 5/26/12, 2:31 PM  

Excellent interview. I liked all your questions, but especially the one about what she cooking for dinner tonight. Great to know those things about the person behind the cookbook.

Carole 5/26/12, 4:36 PM  

Hi Beth - I have put up links to Corned Beef and this weeks Food on Friday - Apples. Have a great week.

Kim 5/26/12, 5:43 PM  

What a great review--sadly the book is still "on order" at my library and there are already 15 holds on 12 copies, so it will be a bit before I will get to see it in person. Your posted recipe sure looks yummy--I have re-posted a recipe for iced coffee today!

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog 5/26/12, 9:16 PM  

I would love to get this cookbook!! The fast recipes sound perfect for me!

Peggy Ann 5/26/12, 9:52 PM  

This sounds great Beth I'm off to see if my library has it and check it out!

Anita 5/26/12, 10:45 PM  

I am SO making this recipe!!! I am going to have to find this cookbook, thanks so much for sharing it!!

MJ 5/26/12, 11:49 PM  

I love the recipe you chose to share. I know that it would be a big hit in my house!

Chris 5/27/12, 12:29 AM  

Hope it's ok that I left a second link! I had a lot of questions yesterday on how to make your own tea, so I did a second post :) I need to remember to do weekend cooking more often! I love this feature that you do so much!

Chris 5/27/12, 12:32 AM  

Wow!! That recipe sounds amazing too!! Saving this one :)

Peppermint Ph.D. 5/27/12, 10:50 AM  

I'd like to see more of this one...I'm so glad authors are really beginning to make their cookbooks more than just a collection of recipes :)

Sheila (Bookjourney) 5/27/12, 3:33 PM  

I love that fork in the road concept... this sounds good for the uhhhh.... cautious cook as well :) Like me.

JaneofAustralia 5/28/12, 12:10 AM  

Whoa Beth - I just saw this line: You do not have to post on the weekend....is that for me lol?
But I may have just made it by your time..I've been creative..
Love your cook book reviews.

Julie P. 5/28/12, 8:23 AM  

I absolutely need to check out this cookbook. Every time I see it featured some where I remind myself to look for it. Sounds terrific!

Daryl Edelstein 5/28/12, 8:34 AM  

Warning.... my post which has food in it is very long and also has a camera bag review ..

Zibilee 5/29/12, 9:17 AM  

Oh, I love the "Fork in the Road" concept!! It would be such a nest idea to implement in my dinners because each of us prefers different levels of spice and some don't prefer gravy and so on. This is a cookbook that I NEED to have! It looks wonderful and I am adding it to my list right now! Great post today!

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