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The Kitchen Counter Cooking School

by Marissa on March 28, 2012

“For most people, the only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking, you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude” – Julia Child

I’m a self-proclaimed bookworm and David likes to joke that I always  have my nose stuck in a book.

My favorite books are usually the ones that have been recommended to me. But I stumbled on this one on a chance trip to Barnes & Noble. It stared up at me from the non-fiction table and based on the title alone, I knew it had to be mine.

The author, Kathleen Flinn, is a graduate of French cooking school, Le Cordon Bleu, and the book was born out of a volunteer project she undertook to teach a group of nine women, with little to no previous experience, how to cook.

“Sounds a lot like what I do,” I thought. I was ready to be inspired.

Each of the classes represented by chapters tackles a different topic from soup, to spices to meat. I enjoyed the useful and practical tips and recipes included throughout the book. As a reader, I almost felt as if I was in the classes myself. You truly feel the highs and lows experienced not only by the author, but also by the students.

I bookmarked so many of the simple tips Flinn shares and debuted them in my own kitchen. Some of my favorites, include:

  • A basic formula for vinaigrette = 1 part acid + 3 parts oil
  • Simple tips for creating good flavor
  • Using leftovers
  • What to do when you get to the bottom of a jar of mustard (add some lemon and olive oil for vinaigrette)
  • Why you don’t have to buy ingredients for soup (i.e. how to make soup using what you already have in your fridge)
  • Flavor profiles (an easy way to make veggies taste even better!)

Other useful nuggets from the book:

  • Basic technique for preparing a whole chicken
  • 10 ways to flavor roast a chicken
  • 5 ingredient cake frosting
  • How to create a chicken stock from bones

By the end, each woman had undergone a transformation and was armed with new tips and techniques to take back to her own kitchen. Many continued to use what they learned. Several lost weight and all had a renewed sense of confidence in the kitchen that kept them going back in to cook more and away from pre-packaged foods.

When you love what you do, teaching becomes more about inspiring and less about showing.

What books inspire you?



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erin @WELL in L.A.
erin @WELL in L.A.

That is an inspiring cookbook! I love seeing all of the tabs and sticky notes you've added to the cookbook already, Marissa! Giving someone the gift of how to cook, how to make healthy meals and how to care for themselves is one of the greatest things we can offer to one another. ... MWAH!!! :)

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