The Commonsense Kitchen: 500 Recipes + Lessons For A Hand-Crafted Life

September cookbook release

Wondering what to get a high school or college graduate ready to start a new life on their own? Tom Hudgens’ book “The Commonsense Kitchen: 500 Recipes + Lessons For A Hand-Crafted Life” out this month at bookstores near you should be one of your top gift choices for your young hungry scholar who probably didn’t get an ‘A’ in “How to survive in a kitchen 101.”

Hudgens was a former student and later chef at Deep Springs College, which is an all-male two year liberal arts school and working ranch near the Sierra Nevada that admits only 12 students per year. A copy of this ever-expanding cookbook was given to each of the graduating students every year, which became a rich tradition and thoughtful gift. For the graduates this surely was a great reminder of the many culinary memories and kitchen wisdom that Hudgens passed down to them during their stay at Deep Springs, but it has become a kitchen survival guide for any novice no matter what age they are!

The cookbook is as big as a college textbook and written in a student/teacher like manner. Right off the bat, as any good professor worth his merit would, Hudgens tells you what school supplies to get (e.g., kitchenware), gives you a solid introduction of the class (i.e., culinary basics), and provides a good syllabus to follow (i.e., Breakfast, lunch and dinner).

You may laugh at the thought that someone would need to know how to make a proper sandwich, or even how to make pasta from scratch, but even if you already know these things, you will come out of these “workshops” learning something. Amazingly, Hudgens is able to convey easy to moderately difficult visual cooking concepts to paper. He wraps up the cooking course beautifully at the end of the cookbook with a comprehensive review of what you’ve learned by teaching you how to put it together in the form of a menu, which is in itself is a very useful skill to have.

There are many little nooks and crannies in this cookbook that entice you to read further than just use it mainly as a collection of delicious recipes. You’ll find short stories about life at Deep Springs, Hudgens’ childhood memories , poetry and even how to take care of laundry stains! Hudgens has thought of everything a novice would need to know to survive in the kitchen, enjoy the art of cooking, and much more.

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