When I started up this blog, I had the the idea that I would review the books I read on a regular basis. I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit there with that intention but in the last few weeks a book has come along that I just have to gush about a bit.
I’d seen a few reviews of The Six O’Clock Scramble by Aviva Goldfarb on blogs and most of them were very positive. I’m constantly looking for ways to make cooking dinner easier and faster. When we aren’t planning very well or even when we just get too tired after a long day, we end up making spaghetti for dinner (again!) or going out to eat. It’s not healthy, it’s expensive and it really doesn’t take much less effort or energy.
When Zach asked me if there was anything I wanted to add to his Amazon order a few weeks ago I asked him to add this book on a whim. It’s organized in a bit of an unusual way — the book has four main sections based on the seasons and within each season there are weekly menus. Each menu has a shopping list online and you can download and print the weekly menus from the book’s website. It’s a great idea in theory (and one that seems to have been borrowed from Leanne Ely’s Saving Dinner), but in practice it leads to a book that feels a bit disorganized to me. The menus are only pulled out at the beginning of each section and once you get into the recipes there is no indication of which menu you are in aside from a small piece of text down in the footer of the page. It’s a minor annoyance and one I can easily get around by dog-earing recipes that I want to try or by just going to the index, but I think I would find it easier to use if there were chapters on chicken, fish, pasta, etc.
But those are minor quibbles and I’m gushing, remember? So let’s get to the good stuff. As I’ve been reading the book, I’ve been marking the recipes I want to try. I usually mark one of every 10 or 20 recipes when I read a cookbook, but I’ve been marking one recipe for every 6 that I read. It’s only that few because I started out marking every other page and I realized I needed to stop before the whole dang book was marked up.
I also like that Goldfarb goes out of her way to make the recipes truly child friendly. I have one “family” cookbook that features recipes for fried oysters, gravlax and duck burgers. Seriously. I don’t care how evolved your child’s palette is — they would never eat that stuff. Most of the adults I know wouldn’t eat all three of those things. Goldfarb’s recipes on the other hand are tasty and interesting enough for adults, but use child-friendly ingredients. She also provides ideas for how to modify the recipes for the pickiest eaters.
Last week I made our whole dinner menu (four recipes) from this book. I didn’t use the online shopping list feature because I wanted to try recipes from all over the book but I found it pretty easy to throw a list together before I went to the store. The meals were quick to prepare — true to the 30 minutes or less of hands-on time promised in the book — and Zach and I liked every meal enough to want to have it again. Here are the recipes I made:
Recipe: Ravioli Lasagna (p. 142)
Pros: This was a shortcut lasagna where you use refrigerated ravioli instead of lasagna noodles and sauce. The first, and I think the best of all the recipes I made, it was chock full of veggies (carrots and red bell pepper) and it came together really quickly. We added the optional turkey Italian sausage which Zach really liked. We’ll absolutely be making this again and I think it will become a regular recipe in our repetoire.
Cons: Wyatt wouldn’t try it. I’m confident that if he would have he would have loved it though.
Recipe: Baked Turkey Chimichangas (p. 70)
Pros: Another big winner in the flavor department and Wyatt ate an entire chimichanga by himself.
Cons: Dang this recipe made a lot! We ate this for dinner two nights in a row and had enough left-over for 3 lunches. I guess that’s a pro in some ways but you can have too much of a good thing.
Recipe: Chicken Tikka (p. 154)
Pros: Good curried chicken recipe. It was fabulous with Trader Joe’s garlic naan.
Cons: The sauce that went with the chicken was a bit harsh for me with too much raw garlic. Zach liked it though. Wyatt wouldn’t eat this because he’s decided he doesn’t like chicken this week.
Recipe: One-Pot Chicken and Vegetable Stew (p. 37)
Pros:This was yummy and had tons of vegetables in it. It came together very quickly even with all the veggie chopping.
Cons: This was a bit too spicy for me and for Wyatt too. I think it was my fault though because I substituted chipotle chili powder for regular chili powder but I didn’t cut it back at all. It was still good though and I’ll be making it again without the chipotle modification I made.