How to Be a BAD Cook

The Ultimate Quick Guide (Home Guide)

Non-Fiction - Self Help
102 Pages
Reviewed on 05/21/2024
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

Ever since humans discovered fire, cooking has been an intrinsic part of humanity, with different cultures having distinct palates that have turned cooking into an art form. However, modern living doesn't provide everyone with the time and resources to delve into the art of cooking. With How to Be a BAD Cook, Ruth H. Finnegan offers readers a practical cooking guide to help those who lack the know-how to prepare a meal. The book contains the knowledge to create some of the most accessible dishes with ingredients widely available to most of the general populace. After finishing the book, you will have learned to cook potatoes, make soup, roast chicken with a slice of apple or orange, casseroles, fish and other seafood, traditional hot family puddings, the various ways to use eggs, cheese, sauces, spices, seasonings, and more.

How to Be a BAD Cook is a must-read for anyone who has never cooked or is a beginner cook wanting to learn the fundamentals of cooking. This book is an absolute godsend for someone like me, who is usually intimidated by the recipes for most dishes. Ruth H. Finnegan forgoes the recipes of time and resource-consuming exotic dishes. Instead, the author focuses on healthy and easy-to-make homecooked meals whose ingredients can be found almost anywhere in the world. Every item and dish is complemented by a brief snippet about its origins and history. The cartoon illustrations by Jose Sépi add a light-hearted tone, which I found very amusing. With hectic schedules and the rising costs of dining out, cookbooks like these have become more relevant than ever. Highly recommended.

Courtnee Turner Hoyle

Ruth H Finnegan covers basic recipes and cooking tips in her book, How to Be a BAD Cook: The Ultimate Quick Guide. With a dash of humor, Finnegan provides a brief history of certain ingredients and condenses recipes to focus on preparation. The author covers potatoes and other root vegetables, oats, eggs, poultry, and meats. Finnegan gives additional ideas for sweets, like puddings and pies, and outlines some cultural favorites, like Toad in the Hole. She offers a variety of sauces and kinds of butter to complement dishes and touches on spices. Finnegan suggests ways to salvage meals if you over- or under-cook them and encourages her readers who may have experienced more trouble in the kitchen with a pep talk.

Ruth H Finnegan didn't write a book to rival the glossy cookbooks intimidating you on the shelf next to the stove. She created a book of information and recipes that invite you to sample new ideas or gain practical hints from her misadventures and successes. Some people may be surprised that the author didn't include measurements, but I understood the rationale. I have a seven-person household, but at times I prepare one recipe for three people and another for the other four. People who have been cooking for a long time tend to know how much of an ingredient it takes to satisfy particular parts of a recipe, and Finnegan acknowledges it here. Read How to Be a BAD Cook if you're ready to gain new knowledge about food, learn a few tips and tricks for dishes, try a few of the recipes right away, and laugh at the author's well-timed sarcasm.

Jamie Michele

In Ruth H. Finnegan's book How to Be a BAD Cook, she speaks on the historical and cultural significance of cooking, tracing its origins and its transformative impact on human evolution. Her approach is one of simplicity and efficiency, leaning into creativity and adaptability in the kitchen over customary cookbook conventions. Finnegan discusses staple foods like potatoes, oats, and eggs, providing various cooking methods and recipes while discussing their nutritional value. She also teaches the import of soup, meat, and beans in global cuisines with recipes that reflect their social and nutritional significance. In the realm of desserts, Finnegan presents several recipes alongside a little lesson on dessert ingredients. Accompaniments, sauces, marinades, spices, and kitchen equipment essentials are also covered, providing comprehensive guidance for novice cooks.

Poached eggs have always been a mystery to me. I've tried and tried, but when Ruth H. Finnegan taught me in How to Be a BAD Cook that there was such a thing as a specially designed poaching container, my egg game was elevated exponentially. This is a simple book that mixes history and contemporary cooking methods, and dots pictures of herbs and sketches by Jose Sépi along the way. The intent is to make cooking accessible to those who do not know how to cook or struggle with its technicalities, and Finnegan does well in accomplishing this. The most interesting lesson for me is on the use of seaweed beyond Japanese food as Irish dulce and as a gelling agent for jams and yogurts. Overall, this is a good little resource that I have no doubt will be useful to many.

Luwi Nyakansaila

How to be a BAD Cook is a humorous cookbook by Ruth H. Finnegan with illustrations by Jose Sépi. It aims to educate readers about different foods and teach them basic cooking skills for daily use. From ground vegetables and fruits to fish and land animals, the author discusses the history, nutritional values, and variations of dishes. The book takes readers on a culinary journey through time, exploring the flavors and ingredients of ancient civilizations such as those mentioned in the Bible and Greek mythology. The author shares simple recipes for preparing these dishes and tips on enhancing their taste with various additives. The book covers a wide range of topics, including exploring different types of potatoes, soups, and seasonings, as well as creative ways to incorporate alcohol into cooking and how to handle mishaps in the kitchen.

How to be a BAD Cook is not for those who take pride in their culinary skills or are looking for detailed recipes, but rather for those who consider themselves bad cooks and want to improve their cooking. It provides a fun and approachable guide to cooking, with quirky illustrations and anthropological tidbits that will help readers prepare enjoyable and nutritious meals without getting too caught up in the details. Ruth H. Finnegan pokes fun at common cooking mistakes and provides entertaining information and stories, making it a lighthearted read for those who enjoy cooking or food humor. The ingredients are basic and easy to find, and the instructions are simple to follow. I enjoyed reading this book, and I believe anyone who wants to improve their cooking without getting bogged down in complexity will love it too.

Constance Stadler

In the wake of a wealth of cookbooks claiming the simplicity of creating an elegant dinner party with recipes akin to culinary rocket science, How to Be a BAD Cook is a breath of fresh air. Born in Ireland, Ruth Finnegan describes a happy childhood fed primarily on oatmeal and potatoes—two staples she cannot praise enough. There are chapters devoted to every major food group, from two and four-leg meat dishes to celebrating the glories of eggs, the solace of soups, the worth of a dash of off-the-cuff seasonings, and what to do when the main dish is seemingly irremediably scorched. As for variety, it includes a surprising number of ingenious uses for each food type, along with very doable ways to create the perfect Coq au Vin and a meringue that doesn’t droop. The cartoons by José Sépi complement the lilt of the book.

Each chapter begins with a brief history of each food group and some fascinating asides. Who would not be interested to know that Queen Elizabeth I is credited with creating the Christmas gingerbread man or moved by the story of a Vietnamese boat refugee who opened a takeout restaurant soon after arrival, communicating just how much cooking defines a culture? While a boon for those who can’t make head or tail of using a whisk, the book has widespread appeal for those who are good cooks but can’t be bothered with the demands of meticulous instructions and microscopically precise measurements. When the author says that through cooking you are taking part in a tradition that has been important for millennia, she is saying much of what makes How to Be a BAD Cook as uplifting as it is enjoyable and useful. In this tidbit of a read, Ruth Finnegan guides aspiring new and fairly seasoned cooks to broaden their meal-preparing repertoire, grow in confidence, and value what they’re learning. It will likely be read more than once when not in the kitchen because it is a delectable delight.