A Book to Teach Open-Ended Cooking

by Sherry on December 8, 2014 in Dinner Table, Food, Homemaking

I usually reserve my library books online and then drop by to pick them up.

But recently I had a little bit of time on my hands and decided to browse the shelves. The recipe book section is one of my favorites, so I meandered over and began to scan the spines for something interesting. Immediately I was drawn to the title of the book I am reviewing today; The No Recipe Cookbook.

You see, I have been looking for a book like this for many years, both for myself and for the eleven girls I have been growing up.

I was taught to cook in a classroom in junior high, and the teacher was very strict about having us follow recipes with exactness. We learned the general principles of leavening agents, heat, and the like, but we were taught to keep ourselves confined to the list of ingredients in precise amounts if we wanted our food to turn out “right.”

As a wedding gift my own dear mother had bought me the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, and this has been my standard “go to” for 32 years, but as I and my daughters have been preparing meal after meal, we have been discovering things that are outside of the recipe box, mostly by accident, but still certain principles that have helped us to adapt and experiment.

Since I have been homeschooling these past 26 years or so, I have realized that almost every discipline is based on basic underlying principles, but what we are mostly being taught in schools are the complicated, fringe details that are not only confusing, but keep us from moving forward with new, fresh creativity.

The No Recipe Cookbook is one of those resources that teaches the underlying principles of food preparation. With this book a young person, or an old person, for that matter, can plan, cook, and bake without ever having to crack a cookbook or look up a recipe online.

Besides teaching how food works together, the author teaches some of the secrets that only chefs know; such as mise en place–meaning “putting in place”–which every cook should practice!

And the book is not complicated or hefty; its beauty is in its simplicity. I can see my girls taking a chapter at a time and heading into the “laboratory” (our kitchen) to try out what they will be learning.

I might even fire up the old computer and put out a few notebooking pages to be filled out, you never can tell!

*I was not given a book to review for this post, nor will I receive any favors or remuneration for writing it–I simply discovered something good and wanted to share!


Sherry K. Hayes loves the Lord Jesus Christ, her husband, and all of their 15 children, 11 of whom are homemakers and future homemakers! She has been homeschooling for more than 25 years, has seen the “graduation” of eight of her children, and continues to enjoy the remaining 7 as they live and love together at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in scenic Colorado. You can read more about her family and her children on her blog, Large Family Mothering.

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Jennifer A December 8, 2014

I’ve always dreamed of a book like this! I hate following recipes, but I need instructions on how to cook. I’ve been wondering if I would have to write it myself one day. Thank you for pointing me to this book, I can’t wait to check it out!

Sherry December 15, 2014

You’re welcome, Jennifer, it was the same for me–I was searching for a resource that would have all that I needed in one place.

Suanna December 8, 2014

It sounds like a great book! I often look at a recipe to see what the basic ingredients are and go from there adding whatever sounds good. Many of the recipes I make aren’t written down, but are made up as I go. I’ve written down a few favorites and the basic steps I take, because sometimes someone asks for a recipe and they don’t care for oral recipes of a little of this and a lot of that 🙂

Sherry December 15, 2014

I’m the same way, Susanna! I hope you can at least find the book at your local library.

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