52 Weeks of Recipes for Students, Missionaries and Nervous Cooks
Kathryn H. Kidd, Clark L. Kidd
Deseret Book, 2007
I remember more than once hearing my mother make the comment that some people were so clueless in the kitchen that they “didn’t even know how to boil water.” Well, according to page 123 of 52 weeks of Recipes: “put a big pot of water on the burner…water is boiling when big bubbles come up from the bottom and break the surface of the water.” If that sounds too basic to be useful to you then you never knew any of my missionary companions or fraternity brothers.
When it comes to helping new and clueless chefs the greatest strength of 52 Weeks, in my opinion, is its indexes. It has three:
A. “Common Cooking Procedures”
B. “Cooking Terms and Ingredients”
C. “Basic Cooking Equipment”
Some of the topics in “Common Cooking Procedures,” include how to: bake potatoes, boil eggs, boil water/cook noodles, brown ground beef, cook bacon, cook rice, make roux (and pronounce it), mince garlic, and how to mix ingredients for baking.
Some of the definitions in “Cooking Terms and Ingredients” include baguette, bake, baking soda, baste, beat, boil, butter, cake mix, capers, chicken breast, chili oil, cilantro, cookie sheet, cream cheese, dash, dice, feta cheese, fold, roast, simmer, vanilla, and zest.
The recipes are mostly simple; many have only three or four ingredients while others have eight to ten. My wife and daughters (8 and 10) and I all tried some of the recipes and found them easy to make and tasty to eat. Any beginning chef could easily follow the recipes.
While I feel that 52 Weeks would be a great resource for those who want to cook and have absolutely no experience, I feel that its title is misleading and that it has missed part of its stated goal.
The recipes in the book are organized into “weeks,” starting with Week/Chapter 1 and on through Week 52. The title led me to believe that there would be enough recipes in the book to cover every day of every week for a year. However, each “Week” has a maximum of three recipes in it and many of these combined would only make up one meal and its dessert. For example: the recipes for “Week 32” are “Oriental Foil Dinners” and “Condensed Milk Fudge.” “Week 36” is “Broccoli Cheese Soup,” “Citrus Salad,” and “Pineapple Pie.”
I also question its usefulness for missionaries. The appendixes do include a lot of good information for beginning cooks, and these instructions would help out many young men and women (especially the young men) who are preparing for missions. The recipes, however, are not in my opinion geared for the dynamics involved in the average missionary’s lifestyle. The biggest problem with them is time. The Church rule for missionaries is one hour for lunch and one hour for dinner. Most of these recipes require too much time for a missionary to be able to cook and eat them in the time allotted.
Second, while most of the recipes are simpler than those in an average cookbook, they still include a lot of spices and ingredients that aren’t going to be easily available on the average missionary budget.
Finally, while some missions may put several sets of Elders in one apartment, most missions that I am familiar with generally have one, maybe two sets of missionaries in an apartment and most of the recipes are for 6 or more, a few even serve 12 or more. In my opinion the authors would have served the "missionary" part of their target audience better if they would have included more “quick fix” recipes that served two. It is generally easier for beginning cooks to multiply recipes than it is to halve or fourth them.
Despite the weakness for missionaries, this is a fun, easy to follow little cookbook. Its size, 5” x 7” x ¼ of an inch thick, make it great for traveling or for those with limited space. I would recommend it to students, beginning cooks, newlyweds and those at home learning how to cook.