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Good Enough: What’s Rachel Reading?

Good Enough, A Cookbook by Leanne Brown, a short book review of the new title by the author of Good and Cheap. Next up in our intermittent series: “What’s Rachel Reading?”

Good Enough cookbook by Leanne Brown

How has it been over half a year since the last What’s Rachel Reading? I guess it’s easier to read than to write, and life does tend to get in the way. This is actually kind of the point, though, of Leanne Brown’s latest book: Good Enough, a Cookbook: Embracing the Joys of Imperfection & Practicing Self-Care in the Kitchen.

Good Enough focuses not only on helping us eat well, but on fostering the belief that we deserve to eat well. Being kinder to ourselves and accepting of our own imperfections, our ups and downs, helps us nourish both ourselves and others. Recognizing that “good enough” is OK and that meals don’t have to be perfect (or complicated, or always from scratch) helps us have a more realistic relationship with cooking and food. Realizing that food can be both healing and fraught lets us come to terms with the fact that sometimes, recipes just aren’t enough.

Good Enough, a Cookbook review

I’ve been a fan of Leanne Brown for years, ever since running across her previous cookbook Good and Cheap. Available as either a free download from her site or in print, Good and Cheap is intended for those on very tight food budgets, especially those on SNAP/EBT benefits — And, one print copy is donated for every one sold. Check that one out, then come back over here and read more about Good Enough.

Part Memoir, Part Essay, Part Cookbook

I’m always a sucker for cookbooks that blend personal stories with recipes, because cooking is about so much more than simply ingredients + directions = food. Brown’s book contains the perfect mix of both. Her introduction grabbed me right from the start, as she writes:

Life is hard. Most of the time I am not my best self. I am often afraid, rushed, stubborn, jealous, caught between what I want to be and what I am. Most of my meals are unremarkable. I write cookbooks and I am an excellent home cook — yet I still struggle to feed myself every day. I almost never meal plan. My fridge is usually disorganized. There are always at least two containers of rotting leftovers in there at any time. I skip lunch and breakfast when I’m busy. I love all kinds of junk food, Doritos especially, but I feel embarrassed when I buy them. I talk about getting everyone into the kitchen, but I rarely let other people help me in my own. I often make cooking sound easier than it is.

Good Enough by Leanne Brown, page 2

How’s that for some rare honesty in our social-media-obsessed world, where we so often see only a carefully curated image rather than anything resembling real life.

Good Enough helps us let go of the concern about whether what we feed ourselves and our families is, well: Good enough. It is, and some of the simple recipes here even just require assembly rather than actual cooking. Brown’s emphasis throughout on taking care of yourself and honoring your ever-changing relationship with food truly resonates.

Building Blocks beyond recipes

While it does include traditional recipes, Good Enough also gives readers the building blocks put together food for ourselves and our families — despite our mental state at any given time, and by using what’s available. For those who like to dive right in, each recipe also includes a TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) summary at the top to help you not miss any steps. Good Enough helps us reclaim the ability to find pleasure in cooking, and encourages us to focus on food as a way to take care of both ourselves and others.

This one goes in my personal library

Some cookbooks you just glance through, while others you know you’ll return to again and again. Good Enough falls firmly into the latter category. Since I really need to return this overdue book to my local public library, I’ll be investing in a personal copy for my own bookshelf.

What are you reading lately?

What have you been reading lately? Tell us about it in comments — And, you can browse all of the What’s Rachel Reading? book reviews here.

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