Nothing Fancy has survived to the end of the month with us, and while it may have been a poor choice for this moment in time where none of us are hosting dinner parties anymore, Alison Roman remains an American powerhouse of cookbookery. We did a recipe a week, and while I did not manage to cover every section of her cookbook during my time in the kitchen, I found a lot of enjoyment in her recipes.
In her first book, Roman guided the reader carefully through each of her recipes, and this method was not forgotten. Her recipes are easier to read and follow than some that we’ve covered during our cookbook of the month process. This remains true in Nothing Fancy. Most people are not going to struggle, especially if you have some previous cooking experience.
That being said, the last recipe I did encapsulates my feelings on the cookbook pretty well. I fucking love stuffed pasta anything. Lasagna, manicotti, stuffed shells, all of it. I want noodles and cheese for all things all the time forever, so when I found a recipe for ricotta stuffed shells with burrata and mushrooms in Nothing Fancy, it was one of the first I marked for testing in the Eating Normal kitchen. The introduction to the recipe gives you the option to make it however you like, as far as stuffed pastas go. I went for the shells per the title, but as I sat down to cook, I found myself wanting more.
I opened Nothing Fancy during my third week of self isolation, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what I wanted to cook as I flipped through the pages. It’s literally a book about entertaining, AKA having people over for dinner, and neither you nor I will be having people over for dinner anytime soon. I have so many chicken recipes that I don’t want to cook another whole fucking chicken for the rest of this quarantine thing.
One of her most famous recipes from Dining In was a dessert, and Nothing Fancy has an appropriately sized dessert section for anybody looking for something different during their quarantine baking. I stumbled upon a recipe that I had every possible ingredient I needed without needing to make my husband go pick up another grocery order, and that was her Lemon Turmeric Tea Cake.
This month is the beginning of our rating system. You will find the actual ratings at the bottom of the article. Please let me know if this format works for you, or we can move them to the top.
If you told me a month ago that my favorite bread recipe of all time would come out of a cookbook that I considered at first glance to be the book for a specialist, I might have laughed at you. Here we are, a month into Japanese Home Cooking by Sonoko Sakai, and I can safely say that Milk Bread may be my favorite type of bread in the history of baking. This is, of course, not a book devoted solely to the creation of milk bread, so we have to look at the whole before we consider how to score our first rated cookbook on Eating Normal.
I’ll admit that I didn’t do a ton of actual cooking-cooking from this cookbook right out the gate. I used the milk bread and the dashi for my own concoctions rather than turning to a lot of the prepared recipes once I got past the kitchen essentials portion of the cookbook. That being said, I felt that I learned a lot from those very early portions of the book that I did not already know about Japanese cooking. This cookbook became a tome of knowledge for me instead of a recipe reference, really.
It wasn’t all that long ago that I picked up Dining in by Alison Roman and regarded it as one of my favorite cookbooks of all time. During the great cookbook release of October 2019, she dropped another cookbook on me in my most trying time: Nothing Fancy. I couldn’t get it. I waited patiently until I started a new job, and here we are, visiting Alison Roman for another cookbook of the month: Nothing Fancy. April won’t be anything fancy, that’s for sure.
A little over a year ago, I wrote an article about how the labor of cooking is an act of love when faced with the passing of my husband’s grandfather. Today, I was informed that I have been furloughed from my job indefinitely in the face of COVID-19. I got off the phone with my boss, I cried, and then I looked to the rest of the world for positivity. It’s incredible how much light is still out there in the restaurants of our communities.
Big name Chefs all over the country are going out of their way to turn their kitchens into relief sites for their own employees and others impacted by the crisis currently facing our country. Edward Lee, a chef whose cookbook we reviewed here, Smoke and Pickles, with the help of Maker’s Mark turned every restaurant he owns into relief kitchens for his employees. While he could no longer pay them, he could certainly feed them, and his example is one of many that led to the movement currently sweeping the country.
An idea born in Normal, Illinois, Eating Normal hopes to chronicle the eating Experiences of a Red bird.
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