The Thrifty Cookbook by Kate Colquhoun

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The Thrifty Cookbook by Kate Colquhoun

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Category: Cookery
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: 476 ways to eat well with leftovers - and you'll be eating tasty food without compromising on quality. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: April 2009
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing plc
ISBN: 978-0747597049

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Using left-over food can, as Kate Colquhoun says, become something of an obsession. I've done it for years and I do occasionally wonder if I ever eat a meal which doesn't owe something to the day before – or even the day before that. Tonight we're having chicken (from yesterday's roast) and roast vegetables (the last of the selection in the vegetable rack) followed by queen of puddings (the end of the loaf which made chicken sandwiches for lunchboxes, the last of a pot of jam and a couple of eggs). The carcass of the chicken made stock and whilst that was simmering I used the steam to make the custard for ice cream with the last of this week's eggs, the end of the weekend's cream and some milk. It's all good food, but you do need to know what you're doing and how you can make best use of what's in the kitchen. That's where The Thrifty Cookbook comes in.

It might sound strange to say that my first impression of this book is relief at what it doesn't have. There's a commendable lack of glossy pictures – plates of food artfully arranged by a food designer – whose only function is to make a book look more substantial than it really is and to increase the price. This book has a lot of text and where it's relevant you'll get some sketches which illustrate what you should be doing. No plates of food suffered in the making of this book – and you get real value - in the form of recipes and information - for your money. The subtitle – 476 ways to eat well with leftovers – says it all.

We'd better get something else out of the way, too. This isn't a book about making cheap meals. It's a book about eating well, but wasting nothing: you'll save money and make an environmental impact too. You're not going to produce artfully arranged meals to impress but cheering homely food to have as quick lunch or enjoy with a good book. You're not going to compromise on quality or taste but you are going to make a stand in a world where we seem to have got our values wrong. About a third of the food we buy is simply thrown away – much of it unopened - and this is in a society which spends more on dieting than on food aid.

This isn't just a type of cookery. It's actually a way of life. It's thinking about the food and how you're going to use it. Fresh herbs and spices can transform the mundane into the special and picking up one ingredient on the way home can make all those odds and ends that you have in the fridge into a special meal. You do need to have some knowledge to do this. Knowing what goes well together, knowing that sometimes you have to turn cooking processes on their heads when you're using leftovers puts you in charge of the kitchen.

There are simple tips about how to organise your food shopping and the basic food stuffs which you need to have to hand. These are sensible, no frills suggestions. I found that I had most of them and there were good reasons why I didn't have the others. There's also valuable, common sense advice on storing food and on quantities to serve.

The basic recipes are of the type which you would find in any all-round cookbook. My own reference book on such matters - Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course has most if not all – but the basic recipes are not the reason to buy this book. The gems are the ways in which you can use up any food which you have left over, from making soups through to whisking up a delicious pudding. After a lifetime of cooking and thinking like this I was amazed at how many of the ideas were new to me and this is certainly a book which is going to find a permanent place on my bookshelves.

The methods used are generally little more than basic and there's nothing there that I wouldn't expect even an inexperienced cook to master very quickly. The complete lack of any pretension is reassuring – you're not expected to produce an elegant meal, just a tasty one.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Thrift seems to be the new black these days and the current economic climate a lot of people are publishing books on the subject. We liked The Thrift Book: Live Well and Spend Less by India Knight which doesn't just deal with food but other areas of life where you might save money. Delia's Frugal Food gives recipes for cheap meals, as does How to Feed Your Whole Family a Healthy Balanced Diet, with Very Little Money and Hardly Any Time, Even If You Have a Tiny Kitchen, Only Three Saucepans ... - Unless You Count the Garlic Crusher... by Gill Holcombe, but we think that The Thrifty Cookbook is the best of them all.

Booklists.jpg The Thrifty Cookbook by Kate Colquhoun is in the Bookbag's Christmas Gift Recommendations 2009.

Booklists.jpg The Thrifty Cookbook by Kate Colquhoun is in the Top Ten Books To Help Down-Size And Make Ends Meet.

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Buy The Thrifty Cookbook by Kate Colquhoun at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Thrifty Cookbook by Kate Colquhoun at


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