Thursday, August 11, 2016

Book Review: Once a Month Cooking

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Once a Month Cooking

Author: Mimi Wilson

Date: 1982, 1992

Publisher: St. Martin’s (1986), Focus on the Family (1992)

ISBN: 1-56179-041-9

Length: 160 pages including 4-page index

Illustrations: many graphics and line drawings

Quote: “Cal and I are missionaries in Ecuador, where I cook by the once-a-month plan. This allows me more valuable time with my family and to work…Often people will come to our home for counsel regarding physical or spiritual concerns. I frequently invite them to stay for a meal.”

If you can rely on a freezer, you too may find that you save time and money by using a once-a-month (or once-a-week) cooking plan. You’ll still eat fresh raw food but you’ll have frozen your own homemade versions of things you would otherwise buy canned, frozen, or precooked. Precooking your own things that need a lot of time—slowly simmered soup, roasted meat, rice, bread—means getting the full use of the stove and the heated kitchen on Cooking Day; after that people can just whip out packets and reheat them in the oven or microwave.

Many a yuppie gourmet has adapted to once-a-month cooking (for large families with separate freezers) or once-a-week cooking (for those with freezer compartments in their refrigerators). Most flavors and nutrients that survive cooking also survive freezing.

Is Freeze and Save (1982), Dinner’s Ready (1984), or Once a Month Cooking (1986, 1992) the cookbook you need to launch into once-a-month cooking? (Yes, the author admits that the three different titles cover the same book.) That depends on your taste. These are mainstream recipes, not “free” from problem foods or selected to correct nutrient imbalance conditions. Since they rely on pre-packaged, commercially processed ingredients (Italian sausage, tomato paste, “1 11-1/2-ounce jar salsa,” pepperoni, condensed soup, refrigerated crescent rolls, bouilloncubes) they’re not even “free” from preservatives or monosodium glutamate, unless you take the trouble to find processed foods that are “free” from specific chemicals. They’re still home-cooked food that will have that home-cooked flavor. Some of them may become your family’s favorites.

If your family require vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, additive-free, or other special diets, you can still use this book for inspiration, but you will not be able to follow the instructions as given. You’ll be able to use only the general theory and a few of the recipes suggested for each Cooking Day. You’ll have to plan your own meals that fit into your own diet and organize your shopping and cooking day around those.
But if everybody in your family eats everything, here are precise instructions to follow—blindly, if you wish, until you get the hang of this approach to cooking: what to buy, which preparation processes to make time for or assign to family members, what needs to be started first, how to get meals for two to four weeks all packaged and tagged and stored so that all anyone has to do is reheat things for half an hour before each meal.

If you want one particular edition or cover design, please mention it; otherwise, $5 per book + $5 per package will get whichever edition is available at the best price, from either address at the bottom of the screen, and out of that total of $10 we send $1 to Wilson or a charity of her choice. (The copy I have, which is the one shown at the top of the post, is odd-shaped but there's room for a few more books in the package.)