15 April 2023

In Praise of Home Cooking by Liana Krissoff (Weekend Cooking)

Yellow book cover shows a white bowl with two eggs and a whiskThe new spring cookbooks are starting to roll into the bookstores and into my kitchen. It's always fun to get the chance to cook out of new books.

This week is In Praise of Home Cooking by Liana Krissoff, which I received because I'm a member of the Abrams Dinner Party review program. Spoiler alert: I really like the mix of information in this book.

At its heart, In Praise of Home Cooking is a guide to helping you

be confident in the kitchen, to understand ingredients, to enjoy cooking and eating, and to be capable of sustaining yourself and your friends and family.
With this mission in mind, each recipe in the cookbook was picked to teach new cooks (from children to adults) basic techniques and to expand the horizons of seasoned home chefs.

Some recipes are clearly for kids or for the truly inexperienced chef, like the one for a grilled cheese sandwich. Others may seem simple on the surface, but in fact provide a lot of information. For example, Krissoff gives us two methods for cooking rice. You may wonder what you could learn from a rice recipe. Here's what: a no-measure way to cook rice on the stove top so it's perfectly cooked and fluffy every single time. I haven't tried this yet, but other members of the Abrams Dinner Party were mightily impressed.

photo of a piece of gingerbread on blue and white plate next to glass of milk and milk bottleOn another level, In Praise of Home Cooking is a kind of retro guide to homemaking--or to kitchen making, if you will. There are features on keeping your kitchen clean, on making aprons and potholders, on how to measure properly, and how to make do with what's on hand.

Krissoff may be skilled enough to plate up Instagram-ready dishes, but she's very quick to note that pretty isn't as big a goal as is nourishing yourself and your loved ones. She reminds us that home cooking is not culinary school or restaurant cooking.

So what about the recipes? Everything I made from In Praise of Home Cooking came out great. Though I don't generally use a recipe for a basic stir-fry, the Pork and Pepper Stir-Fry was delicious (see photo below). The only change I made was to cut my port a little differently and to add a few mushrooms that needed to be used up.

The Cardamom Butter Cake was dead easy and made a great snack cake, coffee or tea cake, and dessert. It's one of those recipes to keep on hand for all kinds of occasions and for no occasion at all. Two other winners are the homemade taco seasoning mix (see recipe below) and the garlic kale.

Photo of a skillet of pork and vegetable stir-fry on the stoveHere are some other recipes I have marked to try: Small Batch Sauerkraut; Smoky, Savory Pinto Beans; Spicy Gingerbread (see scan), and Kale, Clementine, and Cranberry Salad.

If I have any complaints about In Praise of Home Cooking, it'd be this. Krissoff encourages readers to use what's on hand and what can be easily found in local stores. Yet, in many of the photos we see high-end ingredients, such as imported canned tomatoes, the corner of a Penzey's spice bag, and a jar of artisan pickles. I understand, of course, that some products make for a prettier photo.

Recommendation: All in all I really liked Liana Krissoff's In Praise of Home Cooking. In fact, it may become my new pick for twenty-somethings getting their first apartment because the information is solid and the recipes are good and easy. City dwellers who rely on takeout, might be inspired to cook at home once in a while or may appreciate a few recipes to help stretch their paychecks. Experienced cooks will enjoy reading Krissoff's "Home Food Manifesto" as well as her stories and the recipe introductions. If you're unsure, see if your library has a copy.

Seventies-Style Taco Meat Mix for the Cupboard
Enough for 6 batches of taco meat

  • 5 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 4 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • ½ tablespoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

Put all ingredients in an airtight pint-size jar. Cover and shake to combine thoroughly. Store in a cool, dry, dark cupboard.

Use 2 tablespoons per 1½ to 2 pounds of ground meat.

This is a mild mix. To make it hotter, Krissoff suggests replacing some of the paprika with ancho chile powder or adding a little cayenne. [I did both!]

Note: The recipe and scan are used in the context of a review; all rights remain with the original copyright holders. The photo is my own.

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)


rhapsodyinbooks 4/15/23, 8:02 AM  

I think it's a good thing to include recipes for grilled cheese sandwiches. They can be so great or so mediocre, and obviously I prefer the former to the latter!

Tina 4/15/23, 10:15 AM  

This would make a good gift book for someone with children with an interest in cooking. Some recipes for everyone. That butter cake.....mmmmm

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! 4/15/23, 12:13 PM  

I love the philosophy of this book!

Vicki 4/15/23, 2:08 PM  

Both of the foods pictured look good but I'd leave the mushrooms out of the Pork and Pepper Stir-Fry since I don't like them.

Marg 4/17/23, 4:03 AM  

Sometimes it is good to go back to basics!

Thanks for sharing this book. It looks great!

Sue Jackson 5/8/23, 7:11 PM  

Mmmm... those all sound like wonderful recipes! My son gave me Keepers for Christmas, and I have been marking recipes to try in that. We tried Chicken Pot Pie, which was delicious (though richer than what we usually eat).


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