5: Too Many Cooks: Kitchen Adventures with 1 Mom, 4 Kids and 102 Recipes

13 Jan


Too Many Cooks:  Kitchen Adventures with 1 Mom, 4 Kids and 102 Recipes
Emily Franklin
Published 2009
365 pages

I just finished reading one of “those” books.  You fellow bookwhores know exactly what I’m talking about.  One of those books that you find yourself reading so rapidly that you’re almost skimming.  Then you slow down because you love it so much that you don’t want to miss a single word.  Then you start to think that maybe you should also slow down even more so that the book never ends, which you know rationally, will happen anyway.   One of those that you want to re-read even as you’re reading for the first time, which also  rationally, you  know makes no sense since you haven’t finished reading it for the first time.  And when it is over, you simply close the cover for the last time (for now) and smile.  Exhale.  And smile some more as your brain begins to recall your favorite parts of the book.  And then you run your hands over the cover and give it one last wistful glance as you set it down.  Or maybe that’s just me….I could be totally off base here.

I’m sure it goes without saying at this point that I LOVED Too Many Cooks.  I stumbled across it on a while back, and thought that it looked like something I would enjoy.  But then seeing that Tara at Books & Cooks placed it on her list of her favorite books of the past year, I knew it needed to be moved to the top of my TBR pile.  And I’m so glad I did.

Emily Franklin is the author of two adult novels, and numerous young adult novels, as well as a very busy mother of four who loves to cook.  Along with her husband Adam, who is a pediatrician, she decides to introduce her children to a year full of new foods.  Rather than overwhelm the kids with nothing but new items every meal, she slowly implements  new ingredients in to already favorite dishes, unfamiliar fruits and numerous other regionally grown items from trips near and far.  The book is broken into portions by season, and includes recipes throughout, many of which I can’t wait to try!  Who can resist the thought of Mango Curry Chicken?  Or Lime-Coconut Soba Noodles?  (Did you just hear my stomach grumble through your computer???)

I must admit that when I first saw this book, I was a little leery. I was afraid that it was going to be one of those “supermom” books, where I end up feeling guilty for not being able to be a stay-at-home mom, for not always feeding my kids the most nutritious of foods, and for not whipping up healthy meals from scratch every night.  Thankfully– that was not the case with TMC.  Emily welcomes you in to their home, and sets a place for you at the table.  Not only are the recipes fairly straight-forward, and the stories funny yet insightful, but Emily’s writing is just spot on.  Take, for example, this passage where she is discussing the loss of her stepmother to brain cancer:

“After someone leaves you, leaves your kitchen, leaves your house or leaves this earth, what remains of them is really fragments.  Shards in the form of memories, glimpses of them from photographs, or sound bites of conversation, everything just nearly graspable- their hand on yours, their gestures, how they held their fork. “

*Sigh*  Just beautiful, I think.  If you read this book, I firmly believe that you will walk away inspired.  Inspired to cook.  Inspired to eat.  And most importantly, inspired to be the best person you can possibly be.  Welcome to the table.


Posted by on January 13, 2010 in Book Review, Books, Books read


12 responses to “5: Too Many Cooks: Kitchen Adventures with 1 Mom, 4 Kids and 102 Recipes

  1. fuzzycricket

    January 15, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Oooo! I must track down a copy. I love books like this. The Sprogs love Mango Curry chiken. I think parents are just grateful to have their kids eat *something* that they don’t get adventurous. Lucky for me, I got tired of chicken nuggets and my poor Sprogs had to try new things before they figured out they weren’t supposed to like them, LOL!

    This approach of slowly adding “weird” ingredients to familiar foods is brilliant.

    The rule is you can’t say you don’t like it until you’ve tried it. Once you’ve tried it, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it again. That way there is no fear of commitment, LOL!

    Loved the last line of your review, “Welcome to the table.” Perfect!

    • Jessica

      January 15, 2010 at 9:23 pm

      FC: I’ve declared 2010 my year of getting our of our food rut. I make the same things over and over, and it’s just so boring. I want my kids to have adventurous palates, but they will never have a chance if I don’t start exposing them to some different things. I’m determined to start planning better–I’m often so pooped by the time I get home from work that I don’t even want to cook. Maybe if I set up menus, I’ll be better prepared. My goal is to start prepping as much as I can on Sundays, and then use those items throughout the week. We’ll see how it goes: I have a lot of goals that never seem to reach fruition, LOL.

      You would love reading Emily’s “food rules”, too. They are very similar to yours:)

      And thank you for the compliment. I had such fun writing this—book reviews are easy when you adored the book!

      • fuzzycricket

        January 16, 2010 at 3:16 pm

        Good goal! The freezer if my friend for prepping ahead. You can freeze portions of cooked meats and pull them out. I do that with chicken – cook a bunch of skinless breasts, chunk them up and then freeze them in family-meal-sized portions. Same thing with ground beef. I cook up 2 or 3 pounds, season parts with Italian seasonings and part with taco/fajita seasonings. Again, freeze in individual portions.

        That way, when I need meat for enchiladas, I thaw out a bag of cooked meat. No fuss, no mess, and voila! Dinner is served.

        As far as sneaking in ingredients…a thin layer of wilted spinach in lasagna, mixed in with the cheese, is one of my favorites. Use lowfat skim ricotta cheese and it’s almost healthy, LOL! After the Sprogs got used to spinach in their lasagna I let them eat the leaves from the garden. Now, they choose spinach for their salads on their own.

        I love tricking the Sprogs into something healthy, LOL! When they think it’s their idea they’re more prone to trying it.

  2. shortmama

    January 15, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Sounds like a great book!

    • Jessica

      January 15, 2010 at 9:23 pm

      SM: It is, it is! I highly recommend tracking down a copy. I bet some of the recipes would end up featured on your blog:)

  3. kristy hall

    January 15, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    sounds good. I love when i read books like that. =) very good feeling!

    • Jessica

      January 15, 2010 at 9:25 pm

      K: These are my very favorite types of books—the ones that combine all my interests– food, parenting, travel, recipes. It’s all-in-one perfection! I got my copy from the library. I’m sure your library probably has it as well if you were interested in checking it out. The way it’s set up makes it a very fast read.

  4. Cyndi

    January 16, 2010 at 10:36 am

    No, it’s not just you. I’ve felt exactly that way about many books. You described it perfectly.

    I’ve never been interested in this book, because it’s about cooking, but now you’ve gotten me interested! Thanks Jess.

    • Jessica

      January 16, 2010 at 11:45 am

      C: Apparently, that feeling is not unusual for me, which would be WHY my bookshelves are overflowing:) But I’m not complaining….
      So glad I could add to your already huge tbr list. hehe….

  5. Tara

    January 16, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Wheee! So very glad you read this and loved it too. Makes me happy. I made her buttery apricot bars last week – yummy! I could have read this book forever, I think.

    • Jessica

      January 17, 2010 at 8:51 am

      Oh…I forgot to mention those! They sounded heavenly as well. There are a ton of recipes I want to try–like the sticky toffee pudding. Oh me. Oh my. Or the coffee custard. *drool*:)

  6. chelle

    January 20, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    wow. sounds good. I going to check if the library has it!


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