Kitchen Sense: Not a Picture Book
Kitchen Sense doesn't know what kind of book it wants to be. Either that, or it wants to be something that the editors just couldn't do. Is it a collection of recipes? Is it an instructional book? What it wants to be and what the reader gets are two really different things. I should really write a book called "Cookbook Sense," and dissect Davis' book sentence by rambling sentence.
I'm not a smart man, but I know what a run-on sentence is -- something that Davis and his editors do not. I mean, good gravy! The use of commas in the instructions is astounding.
I feel like this book isn't being honest with itself and me. It states, "More Than 600 Recipes to Make You a Great Home Cook."
I appreciate that sentiment in the highest. Afterall, it is the whole point of Men in Aprons. But there is one thing I've learned since the inception of Men in Aprons, and that is recipes themselves do not inherently make one a better cook. It's what one does with the recipes and the knowledge one gains from said recipes that make one a better cook. Not only that, but time, research, reading, watching, and repeating are the things that make one better.
Littered throughout this hardcover book of recipes are instructionals that Davis provides, and for that it sets Kitchen Sense apart from other hardcover monstrosities full of grandma's collection of desserts. But I feel like the instructionals are just footnote on an massive volume of recipes that gets overwhelming trying to thumb through.
Kitchen Sense includes a wide range in types of recipes from basic dishes like chicken fried steak and cheese grits to the more complex potato foccacia. Mixed in there are some great desserts, scrumptious vegetables and even a class on making jams and preserves. Overall the 600+ recipes keep a balance of decadance, health, and classic dishes.
I wouldn't usually argue with a cookbook that includes a recipe for lard. That's right, lard. It actually teaches you how to make lard. I love this book so much because of that, it is now my favorite bathroom reading companion. You do know that lard is the goo that makes the world go 'round? It's true, and it would seem that Mitchell Davis has at least a small grasp of this concept when it comes to Southern cooking.
Not only does Davis include a recipe for lard, he suggests that you cook chicken fried steak ther proper way ... in lard. Gosh darnit, if that just doesn't bring a smile to my face. Someone finally got it right, and they also wrote the proper way to make a pan gravy after the chicken fried steak had been fried.
But one of the biggest glaring problems with a book called Kitchen Sense is the lack of pictures, any pictures. There is not one full color photo to demonstrate the beauty of the food, nor are there any illustrations to go with the instructionals. No pictures. Not one. And for that, I can't give this book a good review. My wife said that she really wanted an illustration to go with Davis' instructions on how to peel and section oranges and different fruits.
The recipes are good and they work, provided you can sift through the run-on sentences. But without pictures, it's just a collection of recipes. It's bathroom reading.