Book Review: Well Fed

ImageAt first glance, I was annoyed by Well Fed: Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat. I’m not totally sure why, and I bought despite my reservations. I think maybe it was the perkiness of author Melissa Joulwan. Or possibly the richly detailed photographs (I often want more content, less visual pop), or the fact that there were recipes that seemed incredibly basic (as in, why did I spend money on a recipe for cooked ground beef?). Or maybe it was just me being cranky. Probably just me being cranky.

Anyway, I take it back. I love the cookbook. I own dozens of cookbooks. I have read thousands of recipes. What’s more I have cooked from scratch nearly everyday for the last 20 years (ever since I went vegetarian at the tender age of 10, but that’s another story). So, while I am not a chef, I am a damn good cook and pride myself in being able to tell if recipes will be good by glancing at them and in not really needing recipes to whip up tasty meals.

Well Fed is an excellent cookbook. Everything my family has tried from this book has been beyond good- it’s been delicious. We’ve gotten rave reviews from non-paleo friends and family who’ve been lucky enough to be standing by when we’ve prepared the Italian Sausage and Eggplant Strata, or the Bora Bora Fireballs. (Who would’ve imagined meatballs would be so good with pineapple and coconut? We substituted wild-caught elk mixed with pasture-raised  rendered lard for the ground pork… yum!) Image

While I heart all the recipes I’ve tried, I do make modifications. One, many recipes include a microwave as a tool. Lots of folks probably don’t mind saving the mess and time, but somehow, I can’t stand integrating a microwave into my cooking. I resent microwaves and only recently have conceded to reheating food in them, and only then when there is no stove option. So I adjust, and steam or saute or melt on the stovetop ingredients that are microwaved in the original recipes.

I also don’t use prepackaged broth, so where it calls for broth, I either substitute some homemade bone broth or count on the caramelizing and deglazing to build enough flavor, and it has worked beautifully so far. There are other ingredient substitutions I make , as well, usually just based on what I do or don’t have on hand.

Whether you’ve got mad kitchen skills or you are still learning to slice and dice, there is yummy and doable food in this book for you. Melissa’s formula for Hot Plates will help folks who struggle with last-minute meals. I appreciate the way she offers multiple variations on her recipes, increasing the mileage the cook can get out of the book and helping people become more imaginative and creative in the kitchen. The verdict: Totally worth the dough I spent on it. It made being paleo more fun this month! And food should be fun.