"The Big Book of Backyard Cooking," Betty Rosbottom

Pros: Delicious!
Cons: A few photos might be nice
Rating: 5 out of 5

I had hoped to review this more toward the beginning of the summer for obvious reasons, but well, instead I hope you’ll consider this a review done just in time for the holiday gift-giving season. Because Betty Rosbottom’s The Big Book of Backyard Cooking would definitely make a wonderful gift for anyone who likes to do their own cookouts or picnics!

Chapters include tips & hints; grill favorites (steaks, burgers, hot dogs); other meats; “backyard classics” (fried chicken, boiled lobsters, sandwiches); vegetable sides; salads; cool drinks; pies, cakes, and fruit desserts; homemade cookies, brownies, cupcakes, and ice creams; and extras (condiments, sauces, etc.).

Obviously, these aren’t huge, complex dishes; they’re meant to be something you can whip up and serve at a picnic or outdoor barbecue, although of course many of them will work fine on your dining room table, too. Even those dishes meant to be done at a grill can be cooked on your stove for the most part.

Ms. Rosbottom set out to create something a little different in this cookbook of backyard cooking, so it wouldn’t be just another cookbook. When looking for certain favorites, like potato salad, she looked for the best potato salad recipe she could find. When looking for traditional dishes such as salads, she looked for variations on traditional recipes that present us with something new and interesting. I have to say she succeeded at this—going back to the potato dishes for a moment, there were recipes in here for simple potato dishes that normally make me shrug, but that I went wild over when done her way. She includes simple relish recipes that transform meat into something extraordinary.

Backyard Cooking is a large book with more than 250 recipes in it. It doesn’t have any photographs, but I don’t think it needs them—these are pretty simple dishes. If you want to indulge in some backyard cooking of your own that goes beyond the expected, I highly recommend Rosbottom’s cookbook!

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