The subject of this blog was initially inspired by reading a coworker’s work. I wanted to find books that combined two of my loves: music and cooking. So, I searched the catalog for “cookbook” and “music.” The first result was “That Sounds So Good” by Carla Lalli Music. What did I expect, right? Though it was clearly not what I was looking for, the title did interest me. Sigh, the focus of the blog changed, again. There are musicians with their own cookbooks, here is a short list with some of those titles, which includes choices ranging from Sammy Hagar to Snoop Dogg.
The cover of “That Sounds So Good” is simple yet familiar (there is also a phrase on the cover, “100 real-life recipes for every day of the week”), so I picked it up. Inside, I found beautiful photos of dishes I wanted to make and eat. The photography also reminded me of the cookbooks from the 1970s, saturated drab colors, but the subjects were crisp and clear. I warmed up to the style after a few pages. The next to catch my eye were the At Home/At the Market lists and the Spin It options.
Ok, before I go any further, I must point something out before it bothers me. On pages 22-23, there is a photo of the interior of a refrigerator. Clean photo of a variety of items, the problem is there is a bowl of clams on a shelf above strawberries. *Twitches* (insert Pauly D “what are you doing?” meme)
Food safety is important.
Now, on to the material in the book. “That Sounds So Good” has three Parts: “There’s a food for every feeling,” “The Recipes (Monday through Thursday)” and “The Recipes (Friday and the Weekend).” The first section is motivational, supportive and highlights some essential tools the author thinks are lesser-known or under-utilized. The second section, the weekday recipes are quick: for example, “stovetop suppers and dinner salads.” In the weekend section she allows herself to indulge in longer cooking times and things that need more prep time.
This section that starts on page 18: “Monday through Thursday: Your time is precious. How to get big payoff from short active times,” is simply one of the best sections of any cookbook I’ve ever read. The text talks about the timing of cooking and how a cook can use their time more efficiently. I would pull a quote, but I’d want the entire page.
I want to elaborate a bit on the At Home/At the Market and Spin It lists, as I think they are pretty important and should be utilized by more cooks, myself included. Simply put, the At Home items on her recipe page are items you should just always have on hand or be acquired in your regular shopping trip. The author also suggests smaller, more frequent shopping trips. She gives some statistics showing the frequency of food waste due to buying perishables in too-large amounts at infrequent rates. The items in the At the Market list are mostly perishable, seasonal or ingredients that would benefit from being purchased closer to the time of preparation (think: fresh herbs, avocados, seafood and the like). Also, I want to mention: the At the Market lists are rarely more than four items. Lastly, and certainly not least, is the Spin It list. These are ways to modify each recipe. You don’t have sambal oelek (or even know what that is?) for the Braised Short Rib Noodle Bowl (pg. 146)? Simply substitute sriracha or another hot sauce. Some of the substitutions are obvious, but I understand not everyone is so daring in the kitchen. I think the potential variety suggested in the Spin It sections is the secret MVP of the book.
One addition I would like to have seen is a total time needed for each recipe. It seems someone so aware of time efficiency (the subject of page 18 that I previously mentioned) would have thought to make sure her reader knows exactly what they’re getting into.
The variety of recipes is wide, with many options for the vegetarian in your life, like me. (It seems, as a new convert, I am apparently obligated to mention this in each conversation I have about food.) However, there seems to be little consideration for low-fat or low-sodium needs, so be aware. A few of the selections are complicated, Eggplant Parmigiana (pg. 240) is probably the most annoying recipe, while some are ridiculously simple, Potato Insanity (pg 234) which is steamed potato chunks fried and salted to finish.
Yes, there is a dessert section. The usual suspects are included, but one that stuck out to me is Lemon Polenta Sheet Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting (pg 256). Not an overly-complicated task, but the picture made me stop immediately and read the recipe (ha!), I will certainly be making this for a future celebration: birthday, anniversary, Tuesday, whatever.
To sum up my impression of this title; this is a definite must read. Granted, the recipes probably won’t expand your culinary palette, but it will make you more comfortable and ingredient-flexible in the kitchen and I think that is exactly the goal set by the author.