Two cookbook reviews in one week? It’s no secret in my family and social circles that I love food. My family nickname is “Food” even. I love to eat, I love to scope out new restaurants, love to cook (but hate the cleanup) and naturally, because I love books, I adore cookbooks.
It’s no secret in my family and social circles that I love food. My family nickname is “Food” even. I love to eat, I love to scope out new restaurants, love to cook (but hate the cleanup) and naturally, because I love books, I adore cookbooks.
Unfortunately, I have a small house and a small budget for books, so I’ve gotten into the habit of checking out cookbooks I’m interested in from the library before I decide whether or not to take the plunge and make the purchase and commit to making space for another cookbook in my little kitchen.
I also try to participate in Food52’s Cookbook Club Facebook group, where each month the group cooks from a pre-chosen book. A few months ago, just as I joined, the club was cooking from Julia Turshen’s Small Victories. I requested it from the library right away but discovered, much to my chagrin, the waiting list was very long.
Finally, finally, finally, it landed in my hands…just as some Life Stuff happened and it wasn’t until the day before it was due back to the library that I finally, finally, finally made some time to peruse the book.
As I paged through the Small Victories, it quickly became clear to me that this was a book I had to buy.
Why? What makes this book worth making space on my tiny shelf for?
Small Victories is magical. That’s why. Small Victories is accessible, beautiful, inspirational, and beginner friendly.
Turshen’s book is beautifully and simply laid out. Definitely easy on the eyes and the photos are so gorgeous and inspirational.
But as gorgeous as it is, that’s not the magic. The magic is in Turshen’s writing and her celebration of “small victories” – the little lessons sprinkled throughout the recipes. Her recipes and stories are not only easy to follow, but she doesn’t condescend. It’s almost as if she’s standing in your kitchen with you, not holding your hand, but sitting at the bar cheering you on as you work your way through one of the recipes.
Then, once you’ve mastered the recipe, she adds another layer of magic and suggests ways to riff off the recipe you just made to make it into something new. Avocado Toast with Kimchi becomes a fancy salad with just a couple of small tweaks and some champagne on the side. (This is just the first recipe in the book, folks! She does it for every recipe in the book throughout.)
My personal favorite, which I made immediately upon reading it, is waaaay at the back of the book in her Drinks section. She amps up a gin and tonic (my favorite at-home cocktail) by adding a sprinkle of fresh-cracked pepper and a thin slice of cucumber. I’ll never make a G&T without pepper or cucumber again! The cucumber adds a new fresh brightness and the pepper adds just another layer of depth, without tasting peppery or spicy. Heaven.
5 Stars, without a doubt. Turshen’s approach makes Small Victories into a cookbook that melds inspiration with the confidence-building of a cooking for beginners book and something any cook will enjoy.