|Reviewers Comments: ||This functional cookbook contains an array of recipes that are designed to benefit low-income populations and people on a budget. Recipes are divided into the following chapters: appetizers, salads, soups, breads, vegetables and side dishes, main dishes, meatless main dishes, wild game, and desserts. There is an index at the end for all the recipes, and lots of hints, tips and guidelines in the first few chapters.
The beginning of the cookbook contains a page summary of simple food safety rules, including how and when to wash hands, separating foods, and handling leftovers. While it is mentioned to use a food safety thermometer, this page could benefit from a short list of cooking temperatures for food. Although this information is mentioned later on, it would be nice to include it on this page as well, or to include a reference on where to access this information. Following this is a list of Guidelines for Eating and Activity, from the Dietary Guidelines and including a reference to the guidelines and MyPyramid at the bottom of the page. While specific measurable amounts are listed for recommendations fruits and vegetables, “servings” are included for dairy and protein, which refers to old guidelines and may be confusing. In addition, recommendations say to eat 3 whole grains, which should likely read 3 ounces of whole grains.
One unique feature of this cookbook is the two, one week shopping lists and menu plans based on the Thrifty Food Plan. Both of the menus contain many items listed in the recipe section of the book. This exceptional characteristic makes it easier for SNAP participants to plan their meals and shop for food for their family. It should be noted that these shopping lists and menus are for a family of four, with two adults and two children, and may have to be adjusted for different families. The menus are very basic and contain common meals that people would be familiar with. While the meals are generally well balanced and in accordance with the dietary guidelines, there is a lack of whole grains and the dairy sources are not specified as low fat (especially in week 2).
Other tips and helpful hints in the book include how to make chicken last a week, cutting up vegetables in advance and tips to reduce sugar and how much sugar is too much, how to use leftovers, cooking foods until they are done, and how to shop less often and save. One may want to also recommend clients use coupons and look for sales to save money. Another two quality attributes of the cookbook are the measuring conversions and what’s what sections, which help people convert forms of measurements, determine yield and visualize how much a measure of something should look like (example: 1 stick of butter is ½ cup, 4 oz of cheese is 1 cup shredded, 1 medium onion is ½ cup, 7 oz of spaghetti is 4 cups cooked).
The recipes are well organized by category and contain an array of tasty food items. The book encourages child involvement and some of the recipes are labeled ‘KF’ for Kid Friendly. Recipes all include number of servings yielded, ingredients, directions and nutrition facts. Most of them also include a box for tips on how to cook the item. Scattered throughout this section is also physical activity tips and encouragements, as well as some recipe variations. Most of them also include a clip art image of the ingredients or final product. None of them include preparation time.
Overall, Gather at the Table is a terrific cookbook that would be a helpful tool to a low-income audience looking to prepare healthy and appetizing recipes.