Book Review: Keys to Good Cooking

My friends, meet Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best Foods and Recipes.  You will be the very best of friends.

I own quite a few cookbooks.   I have cookbooks for Asian, Mexican, America, vegetables, meats, breads,  kids (not to cook, but to cook FOR), and more.  I have them from fire stations, schools, some I have inherited, some I have mooched, and some, well, I’m honestly not sure where I got them!  I have Mark Bittman, America’s Test Kitchen, Emeril (I inherited it), Food Network, All Recipes, Williams Sonoma, Rick Bayless, and oh, the list goes on and on.  I think you get the idea.

None of them hold a candle to the conciseness, the helpfulness, the learning to be had from Keys to Good Cooking.  This is it my friends, the cookbook you have to have.  The cookbook you NEED to have.  This is the end all, be all, of cookbooks.  This book doesn’t give you recipes my friends, it teaches you HOW TO COOK.

And the thing that speaks the most to me about this cookbook?  This guy, this Harold McGee, I can tell he wrote this to teach us how to cook.  I don’t even feel like it was to make money, which I do know was part of it, but it also feels like a legitimate attempt to teach people how to cook and how to do it well.  It’s lines like this:

Cooking  can be one of the most satisfying things we do in life.  It’s a chance to make things with our own hands, nourish and give pleasure to people we care about, and choose exactly what we eat and make part of ourselves.  It’s also a way to explore the astounding creativity of the natural world and thousands of years of human culture, to taste foods and traditions from all over the planet at our own table.  This endlessly rewarding quality is what has kept me delving into cooking for more than thirty years.

And this:

You’ll  notice that the pages of this book have plenty of blank space.  This is because the words on them aren’t the last, just the first.  The margins and line spaces are there for you to fill with new information and ideas as they come along, and especially with notes specific to your kitchen, your tastes, and your discoveries-your own personal keys to goo cooking.

I hope that your copy of this book will quickly become well stained and marked up, and will long help you cook with insight, pleasure, and success.

This cookbook does not have any recipes in it, at least not recipes as you know them now.  It’s more of an explanation.  A why certain things happen to food, why and how and more.  Like what happens to meat when you cook it and why it tastes bad when you overcook it and why it tastes good when you cook it exactly right.  And then it tells you how to cook it exactly right.  McGee explains how to shop for fruits, vegetables, meats, all foods; he tells you want to look for, what to avoid, how to store it in your house, how to clean it and when do throw it away.   And more. So much more!  There is a wealthy of information here.  This book is like the dictionary I’ve always needed, a tourist guide to my kitchen, my grocery store and the instruction book on how to use it all.  It. Is. Amazing.

This cookbook would be the perfect gift for newlyweds, for Christmas, for birthdays, for experienced cooks or for the freshman in college.  Or for just because they can’t cook worth a lick!  I am glad my kitchen will never be without Harold McGee’s wisdom, do you really want your kitchen to go another day without it?

Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best Foods and Recipes
Author: Harold McGee
Category:
Cookbook
Published by: Penguin
Format: Hardback
On Sale: October 28, 2010
ISBN: 9781594202681

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Please see the other reviews on this TLC Book Tour.  Thank you to TLC and Penguin, for my copy of this book.


4 thoughts on “Book Review: Keys to Good Cooking

  1. I am really the lamest person in regards to cooking that you will ever meet, so this book is an absolute MUST HAVE for me. Thanks for being a part of the tour – I'm so glad you agree that this book is an essential part of every kitchen!

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