The Starving Students' Cookbook, by Dede Hall

203 pages; Black and white,  kitchen art on each page.  Paperback

Warner Books, An AOL Time Warner Company, New York, New York, 2002

Reviewed for Good Cooking by Bess R. Emanuel 12/02


Okay, it's a while since I was a student, and I wasn't exactly ever a starving one, but maybe that makes me a good candidate to review this book since I held it to a very high standard. And to my surprise, it delivered---I tried recipes that I didn't think could possibly work, but they did.

In addition to simple easy-to-follow recipes, this book contains many helpful ideas for the beginning cook, including nutritional information, shopping suggestions, and lists of basic supplies to have in your kitchen. With each recipe, no matter how simple, is a list of equipment you'll need and what kind of cooking is involved, for example, "Skillet with lid, Top of Stove, medium low heat" or "Large Bowl, No Cooking". These facts, along with the usual time involved in preparation and number of servings, would give a feeling of confidence to someone starting out. Additionally, "Handy Hints" are scattered throughout the book, giving even more information on topics from food safety ("Always wash counter surface with hot soapy water and rinse well both before and after preparing poultry. This helps to prevent salmonella bacteria from forming or being transferred to other foods.") to using leftovers ("Recrisp 'soggy' refrigerated fried chicken, uncovered in a hot 400 oven.") to common sense procedures which might not occur to a novice cook ("Don't use too much salt when cooking. You can always add more, but once it is in, you can't take it back.").

Since this book is aimed at students, it attempts to present low-cost dishes, so a section called "Using Leftovers" is particularly helpful. This is an index which lists all of the recipes which use leftovers of particular foods, such as bread, vegetables, chicken or turkey, etc.

"The Starving Students' Cookbook" would be a great gift for anyone you know who is starting out on their own and wanting to have more eating options than the school cafeteria or McDonald's.

This simple recipe makes a tasty French dressing which reminded me of bottled dressings I have tried.

"Sweet and Sour French Dressing"
5 minutes Makes 1 cup
Need: Jar with Tight-Fitting Lid; No Cooking

Need:
cup Vegetable Oil
cup Wine Vinegar
2 Teaspoons Sugar
Teaspoon Salt
cup Catsup

Step 1: Dump all ingredients into jar with lid.
Step 2: Shake to mix well.
Step 3: Chill in refrigerator until ready to use. Keeps 1-2 weeks.

I tried this next recipe because I just didn't believe it could work! I took it to a potluck supper and everyone raved about it so much that I would up divulging my secret! You could probably substitute other fruits, or add different ingredients such as raisins, but it's quite good just as is. My only suggestion would be to bake it for one hour; after the recommended 45 minutes, my cobbler wasn't set or golden yet.

No-Mix Peach Cobbler

45 minutes Several servings
Need: 13" x 9" oven baking dish, 350 oven

Need:
2 16-ounce cans sliced Peaches with juice
1 package Yellow Cake Mix
1 stick Margarine (or cup)
1 cup chopped Nuts

Step 1: Spread peaches and juice in bottom of baking dish.
Step 2: Sprinkle dry cake mix on top of peaches. Dot with margarine. Sprinkle nuts on top.
Step 3: Bake 45 minutes in 350 oven or till cobbler is golden.

Serve warm with ice cream.
Good Cooking was at first skeptical about the recipes, not any longer, they really work! There are many good ideas, so buy it for your student! This book would greatly benefit the non-cook's kitchen as well, they would  learn something too! 

Below is a scanned recipe for Baked Chicken Reuben from the book. Good Cooking hasn't tried it yet, but if it's like the recipes that were tested above it will be very tasty, especially with a slice of rye bread to soak up the juices.