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An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler

This is the most amazing, inspirational food-related book I have read in years. It is not exactly a cookbook, but it contains a lot of recipes, and I have been cooking from it regularly since I read it a couple of months ago. I have found it transformative.

The book is not a series of recipes so much as a set of ideas for making delicious meals out of materials you already have on hand. It contains many ideas for concocting wonderful things to eat from scraps and leftovers, such as vegetable stalks, onion skins, leftover cooking water and stale bread. There is also a truly amazing chapter that discusses how to precook all your vegetables for the week on Sunday and then use them throughout the week for simple weeknight meals. I work full-time and have a toddler and another on the way, so I don't have time to pore over cookbooks and prepare elaborate meals in the way I used to. I really appreciate how this book has enabled me to produce better dinners in less time, and with a lot less stress. The recipes themselves are wonderful because they are so versatile. They invite substitution rather than making you feel like you will fail if you don't have a particular item on the list.

Since reading this book, I am cooking better and more often, eating more vegetables and wasting less and saving money. Just some of the things I have been able to do:

Roast vegetables for the week ahead of time and use them for quick weeknight meals, salads, risotto, pasta, whatever.
Save my vegetable scraps for stock and soup - I recently made an amazing minestrone that was comprised largely of kitchen scraps and leftover cooking liquids of various kinds (combined with beans and pasta, of course) - mostly stuff that I previously would have thrown away or composted.

Have others been reading this book? I thought it would be fun to start a little thread to talk about the techniques we have learned and enjoyed from this book.

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  1. Just saw your post - I love this book!

    I get a weekly CSA bag so nothing goes to waste anymore.

    Right now I'm working on a pot of black eyed peas - can't wait for all the things to do with them. The best is her thrown together lunch of cooked beans, greens or squash, with an egg cooked in it served over toasted stale bread rubbed with garlic... and topped with parmesan. Heavenly!

    1. I agree completely! Yesterday I did the "come home from the market and boil or roast everything" and it is so exciting. I made the core/stem/leaf pesto from my cruciferae and kale stems, and I'm gobbling it up right now as a cold soup with the croutons I made with residual oven heat. Amazing!

      1. Westminstress, I am so glad that you started the thread! I bought the book and had it shipped to my daughter's because is was much more economical (I am in Canada and my daughter is in NYC). I will be re-united with the book in a couple of weeks and will happily participate in cooking from it and discussing ideas and techniques.

        1. Thanks for posting about this book. I feel I've fallen off the cooking wagon since bringing my child home and would love to find a way to climb back on. Maybe this book is what I need?

          Thank you, herby, for pointing me to this thread!

          ~TDQ

          1. I'm very curious about this book, after having read descriptions. I'm at the end of a long hold list at the library, so it may be a while before I actually lay eyes on it.

            4 Replies
              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                My library had a ton of holds on it, too, so I broke down and bought a used copy on Amazon. It's a new book so it wasn't exceedingly cheap, but I think this book could really be helpful to me right now, so I took the plunge.

                I cannot bring any new cookbooks in, though, without getting rid of one. So, I'll need to decide which book will go.

                ~TDQ

                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  Yes - if you have a new baby, you need this book! It is so much easier to cook something simple from what you have on hand than to do anything else.

                  Meal planning helps a lot too. And by "meal planning," I mean something really simple - jotting down a few meals you plan to eat that week and shopping for them in advance so that you have the ingredients on hand. When I first got back to cooking regularly after having my son, I had a goal of cooking two-three times per week. Now it comes more naturally, and I cook most nights. But I have to say, this book has really helped me a lot!

                  1. re: Westminstress

                    Awesome. I've been doing a lot more meal planning lately because I've started having my groceries delivered. So, now we really try to buy a weeks worth of groceries at once. It's caused us to be a lot more focused... I can't wait for my book to arrive!

                    ~TDQ