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Relish is all about embracing life and creating your perfect environment and look. Oz notes that she wrote the book for busy people who want to eat better, be better organized, and have better relationships. At the core of it all, she relishes her kitchen and feeding her loved ones.
Thus Relish is more than a cookbook; it's also a guide to putting yourself on the path to your dream life. Besides food and recipes (which I'll get to in a minute), Oz gives us tips on how to achieve physical and mental health, how to apply makeup, how to make your home both personal and inviting, how to balance work and play, and how to be a better friend.
In the food department, she goes beyond providing recipes. Oz helps us stock our pantry, negotiate a grocery store, make sense of food politics and nutritional information, and throw a party.
Yes, there's quite a lot of information here and much of it is useful. For example, I plan to try some of her green cleaning ideas. On the other hand, I'm not likely to follow her beauty and makeup routine. Other tips are ones you've heard before, such as culling your wardrobe every season.
I picked up Relish because it contains some of Oz's favorite tried-and-true recipes. I liked that she cooks with real food and unadulterated ingredients and avoids convenience foods. One of her goals, she wrote, was to help busy people eat better on a daily basis, not just weekends.
Oz sure knows how to eat and entertain! I loved the sound of almost every dish, from blueberry sticky buns to roasted cauliflower grilled cheese with jalapeno aioli to the chile jam chicken. The food stylist and photographer deserves major applause; all the recipes look so appealing.
Unfortunately, Oz sends mixed messages, and that bothered me. For example, in the introduction she specifically states that she uses full-fat dairy, but several recipes called for 2 percent milk. Other dishes don't easily fit into a busy weekday schedule. Poached eggs and roasted asparagus on whole wheat toast (complete with bread recipe) is not going to be my Monday morning breakfast, but I'd consider it for a weekend.
In addition, I noticed a few recipes were introduced with phrases such as "ready in 10 minutes," but the first sentence in the instructions would say something like "let soak for 20 minutes to 2 hours." That 10 minutes was a little misleading. Finally, although all the recipes are easy enough for anyone with some kitchen experience, some of the instructions were not well ordered in terms of efficiency. For instance, a quiche recipe has you saute veggies and then prebake the crust; I'd put the crust in the oven and then use that time to cook the filling.
Despite those quibbles, I've flagged several recipes that I really want to try. Besides the ones I mentioned, there's a fresh corn succotash salad that uses wonderful summer vegetables and a champagne vinegar dressing. It looks beautiful, and I know we're going to love it. Another is the vegetarian enchilada recipe, which would be great for family or for a party.
I also really enjoyed reading Oz's personal stories, including her early struggle with weight. She offers great tips for getting more out of life and creating a beautiful personal environment. I loved the many photographs, some of which show Oz's home and friends and family. I think Relish would make a wonderful bridal shower or graduation gift. [Photos from The Chew website.]
Here's a video of Daphne Oz talking about Relish.
HarperCollins / William Morrow, 2013
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright 2013 cbl for www.BethFishReads.com