Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn


I like to bake. I can make a killer cherry pie, thanks to my mom’s recipe, crust and everything from scratch. I’m definitely not a cook. I would love to have had cooking lessons from someone like Kathleen Flinn, author of The Kitchen Counter Cooking School.

Flinn is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. More important, she learned that so many of us lack the knowledge and basic skills to cook. Her book is subtitled, “How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks.” She took a group of nine volunteers, invaded their kitchens and pantries to discover what they had their and how they cooked (or didn’t), and then set out to teach them basic lessons.

Flinn set up her class in a caterer’s kitchen. Then, she taught her students to use a knife properly, how to hold it, the type of knife to use to chop vegetables. She and her students sampled and compared salt, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, tomatoes. Her students learned to cook chicken, make artisan bread, make vinaigrette. They learned the pleasure of cooking from scratch, not from a box.

It was fascinating to “meet” Flinn’s nine students, to peek inside their kitchens, and, then, like Flinn, to revisit them after the class and observe the changes. Kathleen Flinn’s students not only learned to prepare better and healthier food, they gained confidence in their own skills.

Kathleen Flinn includes her recipes, hints, and lessons in The Kitchen Counter Cooking School. It’s a refreshing change from cooking shows that offer fancy recipes with often obscure ingredients. Flinn teaches real people how to cook for real life. I wish I’d been in her class. (I just might have to try out those online classes she has on her website.) I can’t wait to share The Kitchen Counter Cooking School with my fellow librarians next month in the brown bag luncheon.

Kathleen Flinn’s website is www.kathleenflinn.com.

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn. Viking. ©2011. ISBN 9780670023004 (hardcover), 285p.

11 comments:

SandyG265 said...

Sounds like an interesting book. I just ordered it from my library.

Bev Stephans said...

I'm so glad to see that there is a current book to teach the basics of cooking

I was lucky. My mother let me muck about the kitchen and I learned some of the basics, but not how to use a knife or chop properly. One Christmas, my parents gave me Louis Diat's French Cooking and that is where I learned how to use a knife properly, how to chop properly and how to make stock, which is the basis for so many recipes.

My youngest son loves to cook and I passed my Louis Diat as well as my Julia Child cookbooks along to him.

Ms Flinn's book sounds like a novice would be very comfortable with it.

Lesa said...

It is interesting, Sandy. Let me know what you think afterward.

Lesa said...

I wasn't so lucky, Bev. My mother is a fantastic baker, though, and I did learn those skills. But, I don't have the knife skills. I'm going to watch Kathleen Flinn's free lesson on knife skills, and take it from there.

Liz said...

I enjoyed Peter E. Abresch's Killing Thyme, which entailed an Elder Hostel program at a culinary school, but perhaps The Kitchen Counter Cooking School would be easier on the nerves.

Lesa said...

Oh, that's interesting, Liz. Was Killing Thyme nonfiction or a mystery? It sounds like a mystery title.

Karen C said...

This sounds really interesting. I was sort of tossed into cooking when I was a kid and used cookbooks to learn the basics. I guess it's never too late to learn the right way.

Lesa said...

I don't think it is too late. I can still learn how to use a knife. (Of course, I always said I flunked scissors in kindergarten.)

Liz said...

Killing Thyme is part of a mystery series, all in Elder Hostel settings.
I've also read Abresch's Bloody Bonsai Bloody Bonsai.

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/610196.Peter_E_Abresch

Liz said...

Excuse the repetition of "Bloody Bonsai" please.

Kris Meyer said...

I'm going to see if my library has this one. Like you, I can bake and I love to bake, but man oh man I cannot cook. Husband does the cooking in our house.