Hack Your Cupboard: Make Great Food with What You’ve Got

Zest. Oct. 2019. 168p. chart. index. notes. photos. Tr $37.32. ISBN 9781541578548; pap. $19.99. ISBN 9781942186076.
Gr 8 Up–This colorful guide for beginning cooks emphasizes foundational knowledge alongside recipe variations that range from gourmet upgrades to spicy twists. The content moves through the “need-to-knows” of cooking during different life stages. Each section bounces from informational segments about pantry guidelines and equipment suggestions to a hodgepodge of loosely related recipes and cooking tutorials. Readers wanting to take their culinary skills to the next level will find value in the two knife skills segments as they learn to julienne, chop, and chiffonade. Authors Wiegand and Carreon are recipe and lifestyle bloggers, which may explain the ambitious contents of this work; it’s part cookbook, part kitchen guide, and part life advice. The end result, however, is a disjointed collection of ill-flowing segments within each section of the overall work. Another weak spot is the recipe photography, with many dishes slightly out of focus or unappealingly plated. The recipe “hacks” range in creativity, with some more innovative than others. The term hack feels somewhat misleading, as rebranding recipe variations doesn’t necessarily constitute an easy and fresh culinary shortcut.
VERDICT  Older teens on the cusp of collegiate life will likely get the most value out of this book, as the majority of the content focuses on early 20s living situations. An additional purchase for public libraries lacking young adult cookbooks.

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