I recently moved into my first house after college.  Now, for one of the first times in my life, I am entirely responsible for all of my own food and every single meal I eat.  I was certainly not unprepared for it, and my early months alone were full of macaroni and cheese, pasta, stir-fry over rice, scrambled eggs with salsa – dishes of that sort.  This is easy stuff, meals I learned to cook in elementary school, but they get a person through the day.  However, over time, everything just devolved into pizza rolls, off-brand microwave sandwiches, off-brand chips, and those terrible little pizzas you can buy for only one dollar.

Then I got myself a cookbook.  It was Simply Summer by Angela Tunner, and it bills itself as a book which makes gourmet meals deliciously easy.  Summer starts itself off with all sorts of helpful hints and information – how to cook while actually doing less cooking (hint – it involves using precooked items), how doing this is eco-friendly, the most common kitchen tools used in this book, tips on how to buy the best microwave, what ingredients to have as a base around the house, what to place in a picnic basket, how to set a nice table.

After that, it’s off to the recipes.  These recipes are very basic and truly easy to understand.  Every recipe has a list of the tools needed for that dish and helpful explanations of any ingredients which very likely will be our first time using them.  The directions are helpful and allow readers and cooks to arrive at a pleasing and tasty destination.

To truly test this book out, I made the dish found on page 54 – Mango Coconut Chicken.  However, I elected to not use the Coconut in the dish, because I have never eaten anything and thought, “You know, that would have been better if I had put coconut in it” – the true test of an ingredient.  Coconut fails.  Since I had to cook the chicken at the time of making the dish, it took me about three hours to make it from start to finish.  I served it the next night as a sort of chicken salad sandwich when I had my girlfriend over for supper.  It was a hit, a smash hit.  There were plenty of leftovers, which I enjoyed, and she enjoyed the couple of sandwiches I gave her.

And so, both because of the quality of food and the quality of the recipe writing, I wholeheartedly (and wholestomachedly) recommend this book.

It is available at Angela Tunner’s homepage.

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