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Book Review:

As a self-admitted failure in the kitchen, I’ve spent the better part of my life (and paychecks/Citi Assist loans) resigned to eating what others cook for me. Running a few numbers (natch) prior to my arrival at HBS, I realized the financial impact of my “restauranting” and vowed to improve my culinary prowess.

Consequently, I purchased the finest in kitchen technology (read: The George Forman Grill) and assumed I was home-free, food bills reduced to a shadow of their former selves. Sadly, however, the promise of the George Foreman lost its luster after the second week of RC, and my food expenses soared to an all-time high. (Amazing how a cheeseburger dinner at Shay’s kept costing me $45.)

Despite this seeming conundrum, I have since had a second revelation after discovering the wonders of a cookbook for folks like me (and maybe some of you), “A Man, A Can, A Plan,” by David Joachim.

Basically, this is cooking on training wheels, as the collection pulls together fifty quick, easy, and cheap recipes that produce tasty meals from about 5 ingredients, most of which can be found in the canned food section of your local grocer. What’s more, the book is printed on thickly laminated pages (which facilitated the clean-up of my frequent ingredient spills) in large, bold type (which facilitated my ability to follow directions after one of those $45 appetizers at Shay’s).

The recipe list is extensive, divided between ham, chicken, fish, chili, beans, veggies, fruit, and, of course, beer and SpaghettiO’s. With an average preparation time of less than 30 minutes, I was able to enjoy the wonders of such dishes as “50s-Style Creamed Chicken,” “Mexi Can Pie,” and “Cluck Finn on a Raft.”

While the world of processed, preserved, and pasteurized food isn’t for everyone, this little gem of a book is perfect for the anti-gourmet everywhere. Bon appetite!

September 3, 2002
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