Joy's Reviews > The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn
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Nov 11, 11

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Read from November 04 to 07, 2011

I heard of this book via a short review in People last week, and was so intrigued that I went ahead and bought it that same day. We've all heard the exhortations and encouragements to cook healthy and avoid processed foods, but what if you were never taught to cook? What if your husband was a chef and was so critical of how you held the knife that you never tried to cut up an onion? What if you wanted to cook better meals for your family, but you were so terrified of messing it up that you stayed safe with boxed freezer meals? The author, a Cordon Bleu trained chef, discovered this fear one day when meeting a stranger in a grocery store who had no idea how to cut up a chicken or what to do with the non-breast-meat parts, and her project was born. With the help of a radio show, she collected volunteers who wanted to learn how to cook and then she taught them, hands-on and with simple skill-building exercises each week. This book is the story of that project, from her first interviews with her students where she peeked into their pantries and they made her one of their normal meals, through the cooking classes where she taught them how to chop vegetables and use flavoring, through to the closing interviews months after the classes where she saw what they had learned and retained. This book and concept really resonated with me, as I've been working to cook more and use more whole foods while cutting out premade meals nearly entirely from our kitchen, and while I've had a bit of teaching here and there and am pretty good at figuring things out, I can easily see where someone who wasn't taught would have a hard time. There used to be many ways for people to learn how to cook - their mothers, Home Ec classes, church potlucks, etc. - but many people are now two generations removed or more from family members who cooked with whole foods and not out of boxes or cans, and cooking classes in school are a thing of the past. If nothing else, this book will remind you that if you screw up dinner, so what? There will be another chance tomorrow, and you can always call out for pizza if it ends up that badly.
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