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Small Victories

Naomi Joins the Cookbook Club

I recently discovered something new – a cookbook club run by Food52, a popular community food website.  A different cookbook is chosen each month, and during that month, members try out the recipes and post their comments and pictures to Facebook.  Even if you don’t post your creations, it’s a great way to find out what works and what doesn’t in a particular book.  This takes me to Small Victories, the book of the month for the cookbook club in May.  


I received Small Victories a while back and never tried it.  But when I saw others trying out the recipes, it inspired me to pick it up again.  Many of the recipes that sounded good to me clearly appealed to others as well.  And other recipes that I might not have noticed were popular, piquing my interest.    


The recipes are pretty simple – not difficult or time-consuming and not too many ingredients.  But author Julia Turshen knows what she’s doing.  Having tried them out, I appreciate these recipes and tips that accompany them – the “small victories” that gave the book its name.   These are recipes that you will actually make.  And I really like her “spin-offs”, where, for example, a recipe for Crispy Fish with Bacon + Chives can be spun off to Korean-Style Chicken Wings, Chicken Nuggets or Crispy Calamari.  


Now that it’s summer, Peach + Bourbon Milkshake is calling my name.  Same with Happy Wife, Happy Life Chocolate Cake, a recipe that got rave reviews in the cookbook club.  Ribs with Gochujang (Korean chili paste), Fish Sauce + Honey and Indecision Grilled Chicken, with its honey mustard and herb marinade also scream summer BBQ.  There are lots of vegetables too. My next recipe to try is Shaved Carrot + Avocado Salad with Tahini.  


My choices from this book were kind of random.  I was curious about Olive-Oil Fried Eggs with Yogurt + Lemon because everyone seemed to love it.  I liked the yogurt with the eggs, and I particularly liked Turshen’s method for frying the eggs, which turned out perfectly.  I also tried Roasted Blueberries with my own pancake recipe, which turned out to be an easy way to make a berry sauce.  I made two excellent rice dishes.  Best Rice Pilaf with Roasted Red Cabbage was a great side dish, reminiscent of Rice-a-Roni (in a good way).  Kimchi Fried Rice with Scallion Salad tasted authentically Korean and it was a delicious main course with fried eggs on top.  


So, two takeaway points.  One is to check out Food52’s cookbook club https://food52.com/blog/19749-the-books-you-need-to-pick-up-for-our-cookbook-club-this-summer#section-header-how-to-participate.  It energized me to try something new - a small victory perhaps?  The other is to have a look at Small Victories.  A book that you will actually use is a big victory indeed.  


Naomi Bussin is a lawyer, mother of three and accomplished cook. Food is her favourite subject and she reads cookbooks in her spare time.