Worth a Second Look – Review: The Complete Canadian Living Cookbook

The Complete Canadian Living Cookbook: 350
Inspired Recipes from Elizabeth Baird and the Kitchen Canadians Trust Most
Elizabeth Baird and the Canadian Living Test Kitchen
Random House Canada
$49.95

Pork chops are a staple food in our house. We eat a lot of pork chops and I was getting desperate for an interesting way to cook them. I was really delighted when I was given a copy of The Complete Canadian Living Cookbook: 350 Inspired Recipes from Elizabeth Baird and the Kitchen Canadians Trust Most. Produced by the Canadian Living Test Kitchen, the book “includes all the basics and incorporates fresh takes on modern classics.” I was hooked. At last, some ideas to spice up otherwise boring pork chop dinners!

The book is easy to read, and the recipes have lots of useful tips, variations and substitutions. Included throughout the book are colour photos of the finished dishes. The wide varieties of recipes, “tested until perfect” in the Canadian Living Test kitchen, are guaranteed by the authors to work in any home kitchen. The modern updates of the recipes necessitated several trips to the grocery store, so I recommend reading the recipe thoroughly before starting to cook. I was able to whip up some Corn Chowder (page 45), even though I hadn’t read the recipe ahead of time. Luckily, I had most of the ingredients on hand except some fresh-chopped coriander, basil, thyme or parsley.

A great feature of the cookbook is that the authors have created five versions of some recipes, providing simple variations on every day meals. I was able to make really great Turkey Mushroom Barley Soup (Five Turkey Soups, page 62) using left over holiday turkey, although I still had to go to the store for fresh mushrooms. Spurred on by that success, I flipped through the cookbook looking for a way to cook pork chops that didn’t involve using a can of mushroom soup. Lemon Olive Pork Chops, found on page 157, caught my eye. Luckily, I remembered to read the recipe first. This dish promised to be perfect in three steps. However, I would have to go to the store for two items – a jar of capers and a lemon so that I could grate the rind. Five Speedy Pork Chop Suppers (page 158) looked promising, but for each recipe I was missing some ingredients like zucchini, orange juice, toasted almonds, and water chestnuts. As I couldn’t face another meal of pork chops cooked in mushroom soup, I put the chops back in to the fridge and went to the store. Some time later, as my family enjoyed a great meal of Asian Chops (Five Speedy Pork Chop Suppers, page 158) with red pepper, snow peas and water chestnuts, I was pleased that I had gone to the trouble. The recipe was easy and turned out great, was economical and quick to prepare.

Priced at $49.95, the book is expensive, but worth the investment. As a student with a full-time job, time to cook is limited and our meals were verging on being dull. This book should provide some interesting alternates and will reduce my family’s dependence on mushroom soup.

More Canadian Living recipes can be found on the Internet at http://www.foodtv.ca/ or http://www.canadianliving.com/.

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