Friday, November 02, 2007

It's Official...It's an Addiction

Last night, I ventured out of the house for a home party...specifically a Southern Living at Home party. Southern Living has very nice decorating stuff in their catalog, but most of it comes at a very nice price as well. There were a couple of things that really caught my eye for kitchen organization, but since I have about 3 square feet of counter space available, I regretfully had to pass. But, I got to hang out with people, eat party food, and have some scintillating conversation about a variety of "girl stuff."

Before I got to the hostess' house, I stopped by Mordors (aka Borders) for a quick time kill and to browse the new paperbacks. Like its competitor, Barnes & Chernobyl (you can figure that one out, can't you?), Borders has racks and shelves of bargain books in the entry way. I usually breeze on by these, because I've never really found anything worthwhile.

But, and you knew there was a but, this night was different. A sign caught my eye--"Take an Additional 50% Off the Sticker Price"--and it was posted over the bargain books. That "take an additional" option is a siren call...very hard to resist. So, I take a look...and what do I find hidden beneath the generic cookbooks with names like Vegetables, Appetizers, Make a Meal out of 3 Cans, are a couple of things that I just have to rescue from their bargain basement hell.

Rocco's 5 Minute Flavor--Rocco DiSpirito is so darned cute that having just the dust jacket to this book is going enliven my collection. Although, there are only a few pictures of Rocco on the inside, darn it. The blurb on the jacket promises "Fabulous meals with 5 ingredients in 5 minutes." We'll see. When giving the book a more thorough look-see, it looks like the "5 minutes" part is actual cooking time and doesn't include prep work, which is a good thing. If it were truly a "5-minute" meal, I would have been better off with the Meal out of 3 Cans cookbook.

Anthony Bourdain has bemoaned Rocco's fate on several occasions, berating him for selling out to the cult of celebrity and shilling for cat food, but he always comes back to the premise that Rocco is actually very talented and can really cook, which makes it all the more disheartening or shall we say, "dispirited?"

(And, upon even closer examination, it does not bode well for this book, when you see the following blurb on the back flap: Grab the Good Life! Get Rocco's recipes and Mama's cooking tips, as well as images and ringtones for your cell phone! Go to and click on Mobile now!" "Ringtones"? WTH? However, when you go to the site, I saw no Mobile link, which is good, but it doesn't look like the site has really been updated in awhile, which is sad. But, there's a ton of pictures of "His Cuteness," which is very good! Eating is also done with eyes, people! And, remember, I only paid 3 bucks for this book.)

The real gem of the shopping trip is the $3 find of Rick Bayless' Mexico One Plate at a Time. It's a companion to his PBS series of the same name. Bayless is pretty much the old man of Mexican cuisine in America, and seems to be fairly well thought of by his peers. (Although, Bourdain cracks on him for appearing in a Burger King ad.) He has a restaurant in Chicago, the Frontera Grill, and guess what? I have another Rick Bayless cookbook that I've never used! What are the odds of that? It's called Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico. The link is for the 20th anniversary edition, and I actually have the 20-year-old version, which I've had for at least 10+ years. (I did mention that whole packrat facet of my personality, didn't I?)

The One Plate at A Time book seems to be more than just a cookbook. Along with the recipes, it has techniques and the results of the test kitchen's trials for the series. If nothing else, it will make for interesting reading.

I think I'll try something from Rick, even though I didn't cook last night, I did buy cookbooks, and that's almost as good...isn't it?

(Ha! In looking through the One Plate book, I spotted a recipe for short ribs--Beef Short Ribs with Tomatoes, Roasted Poblanos, and Herbs, which is essentially the same thing I did night before last but with poblanos. If I decide to deal with short ribs again, I'm trying it Rick style!)


Lin said...

I have never been to a Southern Living party (I loathe home shows), but I did buy a very pretty yellow ceramic pie plate from the show catalog that I've used for a lot of pies.

Ben Taylor said...

I'd like to see that Rocco book. I don't see how I could cook anything in five minutes, that seems impossible! If you don't have time for all that prep work, Bertolli makes these Mediterranean Style Frozen Dinners that are very easy to make and taste great. They have a bunch of instructional videos with chef Rocco DiSpirito giving tips on cooking. Check out to watch him how he makes it look really easy. Enjoy! I have the inside scoop because I work with them.