Recently, my boss asked our team to complete a “strengths test” to ensure we’re maximizing on our individual skills and using them to our team’s advantage. She suggested the University of Pennsylvania Strengths Test, which proved to be pretty comprehensive and accurate (I even made My Other Half do it). One my top strengths, according to the test, is loyalty. I thought this was nice (and definitely true), but when it comes to cooking, I might be taking my “loyalty” a little too far…
When I find something I like, I tend to stick with it. Since I started cooking a lot, this has been the case with my recipe hunting and cookbooks. My old Roomie introduced me to Canadian Living and it never failed me, so I came to prefer their recipes. I will always go to CanadianLiving.ca before any other website when looking for a recipe.
The same goes for Nigella Lawson. I discovered her, fell in love (seriously, it’s a girl crush and kind of a problem) and now I feel like I’m betraying her if I start to be interested in any other celebrity cooks. Not only that, but I am also defensive – “oh, but he’s no Nigella!”
So I’m pretty biased. And naturally, I’ve had a hard time warming up to the cookbooks and recipes my big cousin Denise has introduced me to since moving in with us. Loyalty is a great characteristic, but when it comes to cooking, having an open mind and trying new things is important. So I’ve had to… “broaden my horizons”, so-to-speak.
De had one cookbook in particular that she kept pushing my way – Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. Having had a really bad experience with Gordon Ramsay’s cookbooks (I love Hell’s Kitchen but his cookbooks are just not for us), I was not ready to experiment with another British TV chef. Plus… anything he can do, Nigella can do better, right?
But after De made several of his recipes (all mouth-wateringly delicious and super easy, I might add) I started to become intrigued. After half a dozen recipes, I had definitely warmed up to Jamie Oliver. And then De read the introduction to his Food Revolution cookbook to me, out loud. And I was sold.
Everyone knows that the UK and the USA are two of the most fast-food-loving, obesity-riddled countries on the planet. Jamie’s goal in writing this cookbook was to combat the “instant gratification” problem in the Western food world by creating a revolution – a cookbook with simple, delicious and quick recipes that anyone can cook. And hopefully, recipes that regular people – fat, normal and tiny alike – will choose to make instead of pizza, take-out, fast food and frozen dinners.
In the introduction, Jamie asks everyone to master just a few of the recipes in the cookbook, and the pass them on. He surmises that if everyone teaches at least three people these recipes, and they too pass it on, a food revolution will begin. It’s kind of like the movie Pay it Forward (have you seen it? It’s great, if you haven’t). Basically, Jamie Oliver thinks we can beat this terrible “I don’t have the time, patience, energy or knowledge to cook” problem just by passing along his recipes.
Has it worked? Probably not on the scale Jamie and his publishers dreamed of, but it definitely won me over. And Denise showed me the cookbook and taught me some recipes. So I guess it is working. And the cookbook has seen good sales, especially in the UK, so perhaps, even marginally, Mr. Oliver has made a difference.
Besides the whole “save the world one meal at a time” thing, the cookbook is just plain good. It has little sections and instructions I never thought of, but really appreciate and now consult on a regular basis. For example, it has a section on salads – the six parts to a salad. Two types of leaves, herbs, cheese, nuts, veggies… and there you have it, the perfect salad with only six ingredients and one of his quick homemade dressings. And he lays this all out in a chart-like format, making it crystal clear. Or, if you’re into Asian and Indians foods, he explains how to make all the common curry pastes – vindaloo, madras etc. with everyday ingredients. None of these weird things you’ve never heard of, just stuff you can get at the local grocery store.
So, there you have it – I am endorsing Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, so much so that I bought the cookbook from Chapters online for only $15. Just another one to add to my ever-growing collection!
Here are some of the recipes we’ve made from the cookbook:
- Sweet and Sour Pork
- French dressing
- Sweet Potato and Chorizo Soup
- Cauliflower Cheese Soup
- British Beef and Onion Pie
- Pork Kabobs
- Macaroni and Cauliflower Cheese Bake