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If you are thinking about setting up your kitchen for the very first time, I highly recommend picking up a copy of “Cooking Bouquet”. All aspects of equipping a kitchen properly are included here. This book would make an excellent gift for a bride-to-be or for a newlywed couple’s wedding gift.
Brown Books Publishing Group (2006)
Reviewed by for Reader Views (7/06)
Reader Views is talking with Arlene Stolley, author of “Cooking Bouquet: Feeling at Home in the Kitchen.” Arlene is talking with Juanita Watson, Assistant Editor of Reader Views.
Juanita: Thanks for talking with us today Arlene. Please tell us what readers can expect with your new book, “Cooking Bouquet: Feeling at Home in the Kitchen.”
Arlene: Cooking Bouquet is not only a cookbook, but a resource guide. It includes pantry setup, product guides, party ideas and menus. It’s geared toward newlyweds or anyone setting up a kitchen for the first time. It teaches the necessary skills and techniques to help you feel successful in the kitchen and beyond. It can be a great resource for someone that is getting back into kitchen after retirement. Whether you never learned the skills or you just need a refresher, this book is a great tool.
Juanita: It sounds like “Cooking Bouquet” is a great resource for anyone wanting to brush up on their experience in the kitchen. Can you tell us some of the skills and techniques that you elaborate on in your book?
Arlene: I begin the book with a guide to the proper tools and kitchen set up. I let you know everything you need to begin cooking from the proper saucepans to the best ingredients. Each chapter in the book is filled with tips and techniques relative to that month’s recipes. Here is a sample tip from the July chapter-Star-Spangled Supper: Citrus Zest: Small but mighty! Just a bit of citrus zest – the peel of a lemon , lime, orange or grapefruit just on the surface of the fruit – adds a real punch of flavor to a dish. Use a very fine grater, like a Microplane, to grate the top layer of peel. The white pith below the skin is bitter, so grate with caution.
Juanita: This is your first book Arlene, what inspired you to write “Cooking Bouquet”?
Arlene: My kitchen experience goes back twenty-five years. Cooking is my passion, a passion shared with me by my grandmother who taught me that preparing food with and for others shows how much you care. My desire is to encourage families to come up with their own food traditions to share with future generations.
Juanita: Where did your interest in cooking begin?
Arlene: As a young child, I was inspired in my Grandmother’s kitchen. As my children began to grow up and leave home, I wanted to take my passion to the next level. I love cooking for people whether it be my family at home or in a professional kitchen.
Juanita: Did you go to culinary school? What have been your educational pursuits?
Arlene: I am finishing my degree at El Centro Culinary Arts program. I also attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, for continuing education classes.
Juanita: What is the layout, and emphasis of “Cooking Bouquet”? Is it the standard format – Appetizers, Entrees, Meats, Vegetables, Desserts, etc.?
Arlene: In addition the kitchen and pantry setup, the book emphasizes seasonal recipes, going through each month of the year, paring recipes with wine.
Juanita: What a great idea to add wine options to the menu. Do you find most people are intimidated with selecting the proper wine to compliment a meal?
Arlene: Yes. My best advice in that department is to get to know the wine steward at your local wine store. Also, become familiar with the food section of your local newspaper. They often have suggestions about food and wine pairings. This is a good place to gain more familiarity with the subject.
Juanita: Are all the recipes in your book originals? How long did it take to formulate the recipes included in “Cooking Bouquet”?
Arlene: YES! It took two years to develop and write this book.
Juanita: What is the process you went through to develop a book full of new recipes?
Arlene: I always begin in my home kitchen. I start off with an idea, putting together flavors and amounts that I think will work. I make adjustments as needed and use family and friends as taste-testers to provide feedback.
Juanita: Are there any particular recipes that you are especially fond of? Can you give us an idea of some of the recipes readers can expect by reading “Cooking Bouquet”?
Arlene: Being a southern girl, I enjoyed developing cornbread recipe. It’s a new spin that incorporates dried fruit and nuts. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention my Grandmothers chocolate cake or my award-winning butterscotch brownies.
Juanita: Why do you think so many people find cooking in the kitchen an intimidating and overwhelming experience?
Arlene: Many people lack the basic knowledge that would allow them to feel successful in the kitchen. Just a few basic skills will equip them with the confidence to further pursue cooking at home.
Juanita: Arlene, why do you think it is important to develop a strong connection with the food we eat and the environment we prepare our meals in?
Arlene: It’s important for young couples (or anyone) to develop family traditions to pass on to future generations. Food and cooking are at the heart of most great family traditions. Food should always be prepared with love.
Juanita: Who did you have in mind when you wrote “Cooking Bouquet”? Do you have a particular reading audience?
Arlene: The initial audience was young couples starting out in their first homes, developing their own cooking skills and traditions. It can also be a great book for anyone that wants to improve their skills in the kitchen, be it a single person starting out or a recent retiree.
Juanita: Are the tips and recipes offered in “Cooking Bouquet,” geared to everyday life in a family kitchen, or designed for a more refined culinary experience?
Arlene: They are absolutely geared toward “everyday life.”
Juanita: Are your recipes easily prepared, with ingredients typically found in one’s kitchen cupboard?
Arlene: Yes. I wanted to develop a book that used high quality, convenience items that are easily available. A well stocked pantry would have most items, with just a few additional fresh items needed. I devote a chapter to setting up a proper pantry.
Juanita: Arlene, what do you think is the biggest misconception people have regarding kitchen set-up, preparing food in their own kitchens, etc.?
Arlene: I think the biggest misconceptions are that people believe that cooking and pantry setup are complicated processes. Simplicity and efficiency are the key components to make one feel successful in their cooking endeavors.
Juanita: Arlene, your book “Cooking Bouquet” is not the typical cookbook. What would you like your reader to ultimately understand about cooking through reading your book?
Arlene: No matter what stage you are in life, it’s never to late to learn to cook and feel successful in the kitchen.
Juanita: Arlene, congratulations on the release of your new book “Cooking Bouquet.” What are your other culinary pursuits at this time? Are you offering any classes?
Arlene: I offer private, in home, classes. I also offer shopping tours, pantry setup, kitchen organization, and party planning, including menu development and table settings.
Juanita: How can readers find out more about you and your endeavors?
Arlene: Please see my website: www.cookingbouquet.com
Juanita: Thanks for talking with us today Arlene. “Cooking Bouquet” sounds like a great cookbook/resource guide for anyone wanting to enrich their kitchen experience and develop confidence in cooking. We hope much success for you and your fantastic new book. Do you have any last thoughts for your readers?
Arlene: Thank you for taking the time and interest to speak with me about Cooking Bouquet. I hope that everyone will use this book to the point that it is well worn. It is not intended to be a coffee table book! It is meant to be a resource and a friend.