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The Crabby Cook Cookbook

Jessica Harper Cooks Up Humor and Food

Jessica Harper, author of The Crabby Cook Cookbook has my life pegged. For the most part, I love being in the kitchen and cooking, however, there are days when I have no motivation and finding something for dinner seems to be a chore. 

Harper should by now be a household name, penning a children’s book and an award-winning actress in movies: Pennies from Heaven, Stardust Memories, Minority Report and My Favorite Year! She’s one busy woman and still she steps into the kitchen, though sometimes crabby. It’s here that Jessica Harper shines. She is all of the above and doused heavily in humor. 

The name of her recipe on page 70, caught my eye, Abby’s Casserole. I have an Abi and I love to taunt her by calling her “Crabby Abi” or “CrABIGAIL”. It was here that I became so observed in the action set forth by Jessica Harper than I don’t really remember the recipe, just that I was enthralled with the “episode” where Harper plays Food Network Chef. It’s a hilarious rundown of events that are too real for my own life to admit publicly!

On pages 66-67 Harper narrates the dream of Richard Gere coming for dinner. She served him turkey pot pie and invites him back, professing she has since found an alternate for the tarragon-tasting play-dough crust!

The book is a great book in itself, filled with real-life hilarity about Jessica Harper’s life as a woman and cook. I had to go back to find the recipes. They’re in plain view…all 135 of them…however, the stories are incredibly engaging. Aside from the humor, what sets this cookbook aside from others is two things…the first is that the recipes are, as the author says, “almost-effortless”. They are simplified versions of elaborate dishes. It’s the perfect cookbook for anyone with a life…pages 25-27 take us from Pain-In-The-Ass Minestrone to a less complex Lazy-Ass Minestrone. It’s perfection as a one-dish preparation meal! 

The second item that makes this cookbook different is there are no pictures. Nope. Not one. I admit I was disappointed. Even if her cooking resembled mine I’d like to see it.

The Crabby Cook is about how to change your food-i-tude—no more garnish guilt, for example, and why “sort of homemade” is just as good as homemade (ie, knowing when to go all out with Pain-in-the-Ass Minestrone and when to settle for the almost-as-tasty Lazy-Ass Minestrone). It’s how to identify those Miracle Foods—the stuff that everyone loves, like Gobble-It-Up Turkey Chili and Tony’s Rigatoni. And even a whole survival guide—despite her HAS (hostess anxiety syndrome!!)—to entertaining, including drinks, Whore’s Doorves, Dip One and Dip Two, and My Big Fat Greek Platter.

There’s a term Harper uses for food that appeals to everyone, “Miracle Food”. Doesn’t that right there make you laugh? 

Is The Crabby Cook Cookbook for you? Take the following quiz:

1.) I can’t think of anything I’d rather do at five o’clock than cook dinner
2.) I’m always one to read a recipe thoroughly before I begin cooking. You never know when, say, a unique browning method might be called for, and you’ll need to run down to Home Depot to pick up a blowtorch.
3.) I never curse while cooking, even when the recipe requires that I chop seven vegetables and flour and sear fifty cubes of beef. I also do not curse when, in mid-recipe, I am distracted by a phone call from the PTA lady and I burn my finger with the blowtorch.
4.) When the PTA lady calls to ask me to contribute food to their annual luncheon, I love the fact that she entrusts me with making a chicken entrée for forty, instead of one of the no-brainer donations like bottled water.
5.) If a family member doesn’t care for what I’ve prepared for dinner, I thank them for their feedback and offer them an alternative entrée.
6.) After dinner, I love the solitude of kitchen cleanup, while my family scampers off to watch American Idol. It gives me precious time to consider what I’ll cook for dinner the next day, and the next…

If any of them sound like something you would never say or think, then grab a copy of The Crabby Cook Cookbook, enjoy the humor and celebrate the recipes that will soon be on your list of favorites!

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