Cheap. Fast. Good!
Beverly Mills, Alicia Ross, . . Workman, $24.95 (496pp) ISBN 978-0-7611-3176-2
The focus in this collection aimed at working parents like the loyal fans of Mills and Ross's "Desperation Dinners" syndicated newspaper column is far more on how to save money than on quality or speed. The authors offer many helpful penny-pinching ideas, such as finding bread outlet stores and getting reasonably priced salad greens. Most of the recipes are quick to assemble, even for less experienced cooks, as long as frozen or canned ingredients are used and not the optional fresh or from-scratch versions. How tasty the food is will depend on the family; almost all the dishes, such as the simple, warming A Chicken in Every Pot, have an unfussy feel to them, which is great for picky kids but may strike some as too bland. The authors make gestures to international cuisine, as with the Moroccan-style Lentil and Chickpea Soup with Cilantro, and Mary's Greek-Inspired Pasta, but to minimize costs they use few spices or special ingredients, often resulting in inauthentic takes on another country's food. But cooks who are too thrifty or frazzled (or both) to be snobbish about the sophistication of what they prepare will undoubtedly relish the authors' familiar, easygoing but expert manner and the satisfying variety of recipes.
Reviewed on: 11/14/2005