Must Read – In the Small Kitchen: 100 Recipes from Our Year of Cooking in the Real World

It’s not often that I get to do a book review, but when I opened Cara Eisenpress and Phoebe Lapine’s new book, In the Small Kitchen: 100 Recipes from Our Year of Cooking in the Real World, I immediately knew this was priceless real-world advice that would save my readers time and money.

If you’re a recent college grad, or even still in school, feeding yourself well can be a challenge… after all, there’s a reason that ramen noodles have become synonymous with college cuisine! And while we’ve all had our moments of dietary neglect (mac and cheese at 3am, 1 too many slices of the crappiest delivery pizza, chocolaty granola bars and instant-cappucinos for breakfast) at some point, when the sugar coma ends and fog of fullness fades, we realize we need to start eating better.

For someone that was a bit cooking-challenged upon leaving high school, it took many years of trial and error to find my groove in the kitchen. Having this book years ago would have made a huge difference!

Clearly, the authors know what it’s like to be broke and hungry, because the recipes often utilize cheap ingredients, fool-proof cooking techniques (microwave!), and cleverly re-purposed kitchen tools and appliances. These gals cover all the bases for cooking in a tiny kitchen with limited space, tools, and funds, and offer insightful tips like which must-have kitchen appliance easily takes the place of three other appliances.

And if you’re new to cooking, you’ll especially appreciate the introduction to spotting good produce and storing it appropriately. I’ll never forget the day I was preparing a Mexican fiesta for friends and learned — the hard way — that avocados need to be soft to be even remotely edible. Needless to say, my first attempt at guac was a complete disaster! If only I’d had this book back then…!

The recipes are simple, mostly healthy, and easy and affordable to prepare. As a vegetarian, I also found the meals mostly veg-friendly or easily adaptable. The authors very cleverly teach you the basics (cooking a fried egg, making a grilled cheese sandwich, flipping up some flapjacks) while introducing new and delicious flavors to the mix. It’s the perfect balance of basics and innovation, and the girls’ funny and heartfelt story interludes give each meal a backdrop that all of us can relate to.

So, toss out the Easy Mac and pick up this book. You’ll be impressing yourself and your friends in no time!

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