Last November Richard J. Perry, the author of The Good Home Cookbook: More Than 1000 Classic American Recipescirculated a request to foodbloggers to review his new cookbook in exchange for a free copy. Being someone who loves cookbooks, as well as freebies, I merrily threw my hat into the ring.
When my copy arrived I was beyond psyched!
The Good Home Cookbook is a compilation of more than 1000 classic American recipes, and it goes above and beyond the call of duty! In the past I have been sorely disappointed by American-cuisine cookbooks that I have purchased in the past. Too many of the recipes relied on processed ingredients, or were too heavy on meat, cheese or both (for my and my family’s dietary preferences and restrictions). They also seemed to be flat, in terms of seasoning and flavour. These failures saddened me greatly because my years in the US (mostly in New England) were hardly hunger-filled, and there were many dishes that I enjoyed and came to love. Why weren’t these cookbooks reflecting my experiences?
I may never know the answer to that question, but with The Good Home Cookbook I no longer need to. In this book I not only found recipes for dishes that I came to love (and never thought about recreating), e.g. Corn Fritters, it also contained recipes for dishes that I had always wanted to try like Boston Cream Pie.
I have waited several months before writing this review because I wanted to take my time going through the cookbook and testing the recipes in as many sections as possible. I have now worked my way through main courses, sides, desserts and beverages and so far everything has come out mouthwateringly perfect. My mother has also started going through it and its recipe for Jalapeno Rice has quickly become a staple in her repertoire.
What makes this cookbook so wonderful is not that the recipes are so unique or exotic, but that the explanations and instructions are clear and direct and virtually fool-proof.
Each section contains tips for common missteps and how to solve them, and many of the recipes come with a brief history of how the dish arrived in the United States and evolved to its current state. Recipes for turn-of-the-century dishes that have fallen from favour are also included, which intrigued me no doubt and regional variations are documented and shared (gelatin salads are big in the MidWest!?!).
Eating these recipes has brought back some wonderful memories for me, and several of the new recipes that I have tried have that lovely down-home taste and feel that I can actually believe families have created and enjoyed for generations, unlike the greasy oily tasteless fare of the other cookbooks that let me down in the past.
If you are a cook who is interested in better knowing the USA, a fascinating, diverse and often misrepresented country, through its cuisine I’d say to start (and end) with The Good Home Cookbook: More Than 1000 Classic American Recipes. It won’t let you down and you’ll end up learning more than a few things that may surprise you
Hearkening back to the days before ‘low-fat’ and ‘low-carb’ took the fun out of food, The Good Home Cookbook features more than 1,000 recipes from the days when comfort food wasn’t the latest trend, but a way of life. From a massive collection of vintage cookbooks, including heirloom family recipe books, Richard J. Perry selected dishes that represent the true staples of American cuisine. Then, to see how the recipes changed over the years, they were cross-referenced with later cookbooks. Ingredients and techniques were averaged across regions and decades and finally, in a unique public testing program, sent to hundreds of home cooks in all 50 states. The recipes were tested, retested without fancy stoves or exotic equipment and meticulously evaluated until each was perfect: a wholesome, delicious American classic in keeping with today’s tastes, but never straying from its honest, blue-plate beginnings.