The Crabby Cook Cookbook Review

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Introducing a very funny, slightly edgy, winning new kind of cookbook Jessica Harper—that Jessica Harper, star of Minority Report, Stardust Memories, Love and Death, Pennies from Heaven, and more—is a working mother of two who faces the same problems of every other woman who’s the designated home cook: How do you feed a family of picky eaters when you’re not crazy about being in the kitchen in the first place? A natural-born storyteller and terrifically engaging writer, she does what she’s done all her life—entertain us—while at the same time offering 100 not just easy but really easy-to-make, really tasty recipes.

Her stories are filled with charming crabbiness—of cooking early in the day for the two kids who eat only six things, then later for the husband who eats only about eight things, none of which share common ground with those first six; of inviting her mother-in-law for dinner and handing her an apron; of suffering HAS—Hostess Anxiety Syndrome—having the book club over and picking The Good Earth because it matches the neighborhood’s great new Chinese take-out, so no cooking involved! She wants to give a Nobel Prize to the person who invented bagged salad, and she recounts a wonderful story of making homemade turkey pot pie for the very first time—its crust tasted like rosemary-scented Play-Doh—to serve to Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford.

But crabby or not, she’s found a way to make it work, and work brilliantly. The Crabby Cook is about how to change your food-i-tude—no more garnish guilt, for example, and why “sort of homemade” is just as good as homemade (ie, knowing when to go all out with Pain-in-the-Ass Minestrone and when to settle for the almost-as-tasty Lazy-Ass Minestrone). It’s how to identify those Miracle Foods—the stuff that everyone loves, like Gobble-It-Up Turkey Chili and Tony’s Rigatoni. And even a whole survival guide—despite her HAS—to entertaining, including drinks, Whore’s Doorves, Dip One and Dip Two, and My Big Fat Greek Platter.

The Crabby Cook even has her own cooking show, except it might not be exactly what you think!

I made a New Year’s Resolution not to be so crabby. But the damn butternut squash soup is challenging my resolve…


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For a long time I thought I was the only crabby cook in town. While I bitched my way through daily cooking for my picky family, I envied my friends who seemed so Martha Stewart-y, all rushing around recipe swapping and table decorating, merrily searing tuna.

I’m probably not a crabby cook, although I do have my moments.  Nonetheless I do love The Crabby Cook Cookbook.  Jessica Harper might consider herself a crabby cook, but I would label her a relatable cook.  Her story of screaming at her children in the morning to get out the door to school on time seemed very familiar to me.  I have been known to freak out at the possibility of being late for school.  Breakfast definitely comes in second to being tardy at my house too.

I was amazed at the stories of Jessica’s own mother.  Two sets of twins plus two more children!   That is horrendous!  And yet she never heard her mother complain about cooking.  My own grandmother had eleven children and I don’t think it would even occur to many women from that generation to complain.  You just did what you needed to be done.  Enough said.

I also enjoyed her stories of her mother-in-law who would simply forget she was in the process of cooking something.  It is Jessica’s life and the stories she tells that make this book so funny.  Her humorous insights on people and situations are very enjoyable.  She has a natural wit and self-deprecation.

While this book was an enjoyable read I did need to make some recipes to test it properly.  The first recipe I made was Tom’s Oatmeal.  I thought it was a unique recipe because it had sunflower seeds.  The recipe was easy to make.  My kids were not fans of this concoction as I’m sure the Crabby Cook can sympathize.  The adults however found it quite enjoyable.  The classic two meal scenario.  That’s the way it goes I guess.

Here are some pictures of Tom’s Oatmeal.

Here it is cooking.

The finished product!

My second meal of choice was the Mini-Thanksgiving Roast Turkey.  Ironically we had this feat on Valentine’s Day.  This would not be so surprising if you knew my husband.  He loves Thanksgiving and he loves it mainly for the turkey.  Turkey sandwiches are one of his favorite foods.  So I decided to prepare this turkey breast just for him.  Right away I was faced with some technical difficulties in this recipe.  The Crabby Cook’s recipe calls for a 4 to 5 pound turkey breast and the one I had purchased about two months earlier and had defrosted for this meal was almost 7 pounds.  Another problem was that Jessica’s recipe cooks the turkey at 425′ and 375′.  This is very different compared to how I normally cook a turkey.  I have normally cooked my Thanksgiving turkey at 325′ or at most 350′.  I consulted Nana for a tweaking of the recipe.  We decided to use The Crabby Cook’s temperatures and to up the cooking time by 15 minutes.  Unfortunately this didn’t quite do the trick.  As you can see from the picture below the breast looks wonderful, however it was just slightly undercooked on the inside.  Of course a few seconds in the old radiation zapper (microwave) fixed that problem!

I don’t feel that the recipes are The Crabby Cook’s crowing glory, rather it is her wonderful comic writing.  Her sassy tell it like it is attitude is hilarious and I laughed throughout the book.  I would have rather have had more writing than recipes actually and that is an odd statement from me.  I would definitely recommend this book to any mom.  It made me realize that other moms go through similar food troubles at their houses.  It left me with an upbeat and positive feel about cooking.

I received this book to review, however all opinions are my own.

Comments

  1. Thanks so much for your review! Great praise from a kindred spirit!
    Yours in crabbiness,
    Jessica Harper

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