Since we moved to Malaysia I have basically stopped cooking. It’s just too damn hot. I can’t bear to stand over the flaming gas stove with sweat pouring into my eyes as I try to navigate my slightly cramped kitchen. It doesn’t really put me in the mood for a tasty dinner. Plus, eating out is so cheap and easy.
The only problem is that I really enjoy cooking. I have about 100 cookbooks that I’ve been lugging around all over the world, and I really really want to use them. One of them, Cook 1.0: A Fresh Approach to the Vegetarian Kitchen by Heidi Swanson, especially. I bought it just before we left Munich (where I cooked every day) so I have only used it a few times, but I already know I love it. I don’t cook meat at home, so I mostly own vegetarian cookbooks and this one is truly unique.
It meets my basic cookbook requirements:
- Lots of colorful pictures
- Easy, quick recipies requiring few ingredients
- A wide variety of types of receipies
- Includes everything from breakfast, to one-pot meals, to drinks
But what makes this particular cookbook so special (to me, anyway) is it’s layout (and the fact that Swanson is a professional photographer so it’s beautiful and stylishly designed). The book is set up by technique, rather than by recipe.
Instead of including one way to cook each dish, Swanson makes each dish into it’s own mini chapter and explains (using a very simple and easy to understand table set-up) how to create the same type of dish with different ingredients.
For me, this is a great way to cook. Not only do I get the opportunity to understand how to make many different recipes using the same technique, but I also find it easier to remember the different dishes when they are organized by step and process, rather than by final product. As a teacher, I know it’s easier to learn new things if you can make connections to something you already know, so this method is a very logical and effective way to approach cooking new dishes. I find it encourages me to try new things and to experiment with different ingrediates, which is exactly what I want from a cookbook!