Review: Urban Pantry: Tips and Recipies for a Thrifty, Sustainable and Seasonal Kitchen by Amy Pennington

 This was one of the first books I bought for my Kindle (and by bought I mean actually paid for, as there were a number of other titles I was able to snag on a pretty bitching gift card I was given for Christmas). I bought it for two reasons: 1.) I like to consider myself a budding foodie and, while I’m currently setting for ramen and instant mased potatoes due to budget restrictions, I’m excited for the day when real cooking with real ingredients becomes an actual option and 2.) Knowing that I’ve got a number of years of apartment/townhome living, I loved the idea of a book on tips and tricks for those of us working with limited space. Going in to it with those two expectations in mind, I was surprised to find more than that offered.

In all honesty, if you’re looking for just a good ole’ fashioned cook book, I’d suggest looking elsewhere. While each chapter has it’s own recipies attached, I consider this book better as a general tips-and-tricks kind of guide. The book is divided up in to two kinds of chapters: “urban pantry” chapters on organizing what you’ve got, stocking your kitchen with staples and, I was really happy to see, advice on being a thrifty kitchen-ista, getting the most out of your purchases. There are also chapters on canning and preserving/jellying your own food, but they were a bit cursory and I found myself having to do a lot more research on these subjects before I really felt comfortable with the topics. The other chapter types are “food” chapters, with a chapter each being given to grains, fruits and veggies, dairy, meat, and even spices. Within the chapters, she outlines what she believes “every kitchen should have”, as well as properly picking out the best of each, storing it and, then, recipies involving those items. It should probably be said now that this book is definitely targeting a certain kind of shopper/eater, speaking frequently about buying organic, picking up hard-to-find products (for a grain example, I found bulgar wheat and quinoa with no problem at Whole Foods, but didn’t see hide nor hair of them when I looked at Wal-Mart/Target), and eating meals that definately require time and attention to prepare. It’s not one of those “cook it in five minutes or less in one pot and without even using a stove!” kind of books, but there was a lot more information than I was expecting to come across, and definately serves as a kind of inspirational “how I want to eat one day” guide.

It should be said that I LOVE cookbooks. Like, seriously. I read them like novels. I love pouring over recipie ingredients, imagining myself cooking, and oogling all the pretty food pictures. While I don’t do as much cooking as I’d like in my real life, in my imaginary existance I may as well be Julia Child. This book read rather seamlessly on the Kindle – I was surprised how much I enjoyed reading it, actually, because so much of what I love about cookbooks is the physicality of them – but there were some lag-time issues when it came to loading some of the pictures throughout the book. All in all, I’d say this book is right up your alley if you’re looking for a book on being a foodie in this day and age, looking for advice on what “kitchen staples” to have, and how to make your dollar stretch in the kitchen.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. confuzzledbooks
    May 04, 2011 @ 12:20:37

    I never thought of having one of the ebook readers for cookbooks. Hmm… may have to rethink about getting one.


  2. SandySays1
    May 04, 2011 @ 12:45:52

    Sounds like a great book and that you captured the heart of it. I’ll pass it on to my human. He’d benefit from reading Urban Pantry.
    PS – Since you’re a new Kindle owner, a helpful hint. Never leave it on a table at MacDonalds when you get a napkin. My human “lost” one that way.


  3. Jeane
    May 04, 2011 @ 15:12:42

    This sounds like the kind of kitchen book I’d really like to read. I’m working on stocking my shelves better, so we can eat more fresh, local food (especially straight from the backyard!) Last year I did a bit of canning for the first time, but have much bigger plans for the future!


    • Chelsea
      May 04, 2011 @ 15:29:30

      I’ve yet to try my hand at canning, but my boyfriend and I recently bought a vacuum sealer to keep our food fresher for longer and I’ve become OBSESSED with making jellies/pickled things (he’s especially fond of pickled asparagus) and this book helped with both of those tasks!


  4. Yvonne
    Jun 01, 2011 @ 20:49:39

    It sounds like a good idea to make a kind of modern kitchenbook. As time has changed so must we.


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