So I will admit it, I bought a copy of Amy's cook book Short and Simple. Hey, I'm not poor, and my thinking at the time is that my mom at least would enjoy it as she collects cook books so I figured what the hell.
And let me be up front. If you take it at face value, and ignore the Roloff aspect completely, and if you ignore a lot of the pre-release natter on the show and in facebook and even in comments here about how it's all about nutritious meals, then let me be honest. It's a nice, very basic cook book with simple recipes. Now folks, I am not against simple food. Far from it. On the other hand, raise of hands, who here actually needed to read a cook book to figure out how to make fresh fruit salad? Or tuna fish sandwiches, or roast beef sandwiches or ham and cheese and turkey panninis? Aka toasted ham and cheese and turkey sandwiches? Or hey, the recipe for super burgers and fries that involves amongst other things - a package of frozen french fries and a list of condiments. I mean there's simple and then there's explaining how to put the frozen fries in the oven. Likewise I think most of us understand the concept of making a fruit smoothie.
There was one recipe, banana chocolate pops, that I remember making in kindergarten... in part I suspect because it's so easy. Actually, I not only did this when I was six, I can remember reading about this recipe in a book called One Child by Torey Hayden. The book was written in the early 1980s, and there's one scene where Torey, who was a special education teacher, had her class of autistics, childhood schizophrenics, and profoundly disturbed kids making the banana chocolate pops successfully. My point? A lot of the recipes are really too simple. I'm just saying... most of us probably figured out how to make a sandwich without a cook book.
On a positive note, I did like the short section in the back that is, again, clearly for beginners, but nicely explains how to make "side vegetables" easily. Another nice touch was listing the household pantry items at the start. Again, not necessary but a nice touch for beginners who will find it helpful.
In fairness, if it had a different tone and was say, more focused to child and teen beginners, I think it would sit better with me. When you're teaching children and teenagers, you want a few "ringer" recipes in the mix so that they can get a success under their belts right away. In that respect, I could see this being very helpful to say, a parent teaching a kid how to cook. To an experienced cook? I'd say it's probably too simplistic. But to be fair, with title like Short and Simple, I wasn't expecting deconstructed paella with a side of bacon ice cream.
So let's talk about the Roloff aspect, shall we?
Let me tell you up front, if you're looking for amazing new content about the Roloffs, move on. Now do understand, I wasn't expecting any new content, so I wasn't disappointed. There's a forward by Amy's parents that amounts to "we're so proud of Amy". Amy does a forward as well where we basically hear the same story of how she learned to cook at 12, and how she wanted to run a bed and breakfast and was thwarted by people being touchy about her dwarfism, and blah blah blah cooking for the family is such a joy. I mean its a nice sentiment but pretty pictures in the book aside, how many times did we see the family sitting around the table for a home cooked meal?
So here's the thing. You're not going to recognize most of these recipes. I remember maybe five or six of these recipes. Chili, chicken enchiladas, that godawful shepherds pie, the potato cake, cookies, and "super burgers" andd honestly, I mostly remember Matt in regards to burgers and his slopping a lot of relish on said burgers. That means a LOT of these recipes are for things that you've never seen grace the Roloff's table. Honestly, judging by the horrified looks at smokedd salmon on the part of the Roloff kids, it's really hard to believe Amy has ever served "Simple Salmon" to the family. Likewise pretty much all of the "Starters" seemed way beyond the cuisine level of the family. Really, does anyone believe that Mushroom Goat Cheese Puffs, or Scallop Pesto Crostinis or Crab Cakes were ever offered out to a horde of teenagers for snack time?
That's not to say these aren't good recipes, they just don't seem to reflect the tastes of a woman who didn't know what veal or a cornish game hen was. I mean really, does anyone really think tilapia really is on the menu at the Roloff homestead?
What I don't believe is that this is a cook book full of healthy recipes. Lest anyone run to scream how I am "hating" - I'm not the one in at least one tv special who harped on how healthy and nutritious this cook book would be. Putting "94 percent lean ground beef" in a recipe does not make it a healthy recipe. Likewise, using kosher salt or suggesting that fat be trimmed from a beef cut, or skinless chicken breasts be used does not make it a healthy recipe. Amy uses a LOT of sour cream, heavy cream, butter, and buttermilk in her recipes. There's a lot of cheese in these recipes. Yeah she's saying use lean ground meat in the super burgers, but she's also adding egg and a half cup of parmesan cheese to the beef and then suggesting cheddar cheese and bacon as "condiments". The breakfast omelat has potates added. The breakfast smoothie has a 1/4 of a cup of honey added and there's a LOT of sugar in the recipes. The BLT salad, in the "light lunch fare" area of the book has 6-8 slices of bacon, 6 large slices of french bread for croutons, two table spoons of maple sugar, a 1/4 cup of brown sugar and a half cup of "low fat" mayo. Don't get me wrong, I like hearty, heavy food, but really, with rare exception, recipes in this book have ground beef, sour cream, buttermilk, heavy cream, potatoes, eggs, and cups of sugar. I'm not shocked in the slightest that Matt is diabetic.
My recommendation? It isn't a bad beginner cook book but don't buy it if you're expecting any new antedotes about Amy, and really don't buy it if you're looking for healthy recipes.