The Crabby Cook Cookbook: 135 Almost Effortless Recipes Plus Survival Tips – Review and Giveaway

The Crabby Cook Cookbook: 135 Almost Effortless Recipes Plus Survival Tips, by Jessica Harper, published by Workman Press and distributed by Thomas Allen and Sons is a most entertaining and funny read, especially if you are a crabby cook yourself. With strategies, no-fail recipes and humor, Harper gets the job making dinner done.

About the Book

Upon opening the book, the pages come alive with descriptive stories before each recipe, explaining why Harper came up with this recipe or giving funny antidotes and supplying coping skills along with her recipes.

“Are You a Crabby Cook?…..Many of you (and I) can answer that question unequivocally, but some of you may be uncertain.  To determine just how crabby you are, do this simple self-check.  Read the following six statements.  If any of them sound like something you might say or think, then, I’m sorry, but most likely you do NOT qualify for crabby cook status.

  1. 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 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…..”  Jessica Harper

“The day my friends and I outed ourselves, I got the idea for The Crabby Cook Cookbook.  While it wouldn’t be my dream cookbook (that would be the one that just pops open and produces a meat loaf or a chicken dinner), its recipes and survival tips would make life easier for those of us who are kitchen-challenged.  That’s why the recipes here are not complex or glamorous.  This is every day, family friendly (and chef-friendly) food, home-tested for acceptability by very picky people (my relatives).” Harper

This book is such a pleasure to read, you will find yourself reading and trying all the recipes eventually.

My Thoughts

From the moment I opened the book, I started to laugh.  Harper’s short story at the beginning of each recipe and each chapter make this book so worth having.  I love that she has two recipes for soup, “Pain-in-the-Ass Minestrone” and an easier version “Lazy-Ass Minestrone”.  You get to decide which mood you are in before taking on this recipe.  The “Too Many-Ingredients Curry Dip” is a recipe she whittled down to what she considered the bare essentials which is absolutely fabulous for entertaining, and so easy too. Her “Green Eggs and Ham” is a frittata with fresh asparagus, leeks, herbs and cheese with no Dr. Seuss required.  You just have to try her “No Patience Coconut Cookies” which are so incredibly easy to make.  I would give this recipe book to anyone who is a no-nonsense cook, or someone who just wants to get it over with and on the table.

Book Highlight

I have picked a rather simple recipe for this week’s giveaway, because like the book, I want to make really simple things, and offer them to you, because like you I have a box of veggies just asking me to do something with them, which usually involves a lot of “choppage” and prep work, so when I find one that is simple and easy and tastes good, well I just gotta share!  I usually get brain-dead very fast when it comes to cabbage.  I like it, but only have a limited skill with it, and my family usually complains about the house smelling foul when I cook it.


“I like to think of this dish as the hot big brother of coleslaw – it’s all cabbagey, healthy, and easy as pie.  But this raises the following question:  Why do people say things are easy as pie?  If they mean easy as eating pie, then I get it. But I think they usually mean easy as making pie, which makes me wonder if the person who came up with the expression ever made a pie, because it is so NOT easy.  And this reminds me that I actually once made a cabbage pie, which was quite terrible.  Anyway, this dish is a great side for most roasts, or for Chicken Nuggets (page 218) or for Fish Stix (page 122).”

  • 1/2 head green cabbage – I prefer Napa or Savoy
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
Cut the cabbage half in half; then cut those halves in half.  Place these large chunks of cabbage in a food processor fitted with a slicing disk, and slice them.  Set the cabbage aside. Grate the carrots in the food processor, using the grating disk. Set aside carrots.  Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the cabbage, carrots, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 10 minutes.
Stir in the parsley, dill and lemon zest, and serve.

Contest Rules

The Crabby Cook Cookbook: 135 Almost Effortless Recipes Plus Survival Tips, by Jessica Harper, published by Workman Press and distributed by Thomas Allen and Sons could be your own “Go To” cookbook.  You can win this copy by leaving a comment at the end of this blog, and as well tell me your own crabby cook experiences in your family kitchen. Do you have some “quick-fixins” that are good and tasty, yet so easy to make?

You can of course buy your own copy from your local book store.  I want to thank Bonita at Thomas Allen & Sons for donating my copy so that I can offer this amazing giveaway!


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10 Responses to The Crabby Cook Cookbook: 135 Almost Effortless Recipes Plus Survival Tips – Review and Giveaway

  1. Fussyjo says:

    I am a crabby cook and an even crabbier cleaner upper. I want to invite Jessica over for a class of wine, while our husbands make a recipe from her cookbook.


  2. Jeannette James says:

    I am a crabby cook. Growing up I learned just the basics, how to boil an egg, peel potatoes and throw a lot of processed foods in the oven or microwave. When I met my husband 15 years ago, he was working as a chef and did most of the cooking in the house. It worked out great as I was working 12hr shifts and really didn’t have the time but it was also intimidating when I did go to cook a meal.

    Well over the years things changed. Being home all day long, cooking dinner has become my job. I’ve learned more than the basics and even come up with some of my own recipes. But as soon as my husband comes into the kitchen, I turn into a crabby cook. He gets the glare. If he dares to reach for a pot lid or a spoon, I growl at him to leave it alone. And if he decides to become really daring and tell me what I’m doing wrong, he gets evicted. I’ve even been known to throw my hands up in the air and walk out of the kitchen, leaving dinner for someone else to finish.

    So yes, I am a crabby cook.


  3. Michele Oxlade says:

    I too have the propensity to be a “crabby cook”. After a long day at work I am barely in the door when I hear “Mom, what’s for dinner?” and then “How long till it’s ready?” I very often find myself modifying my recipes into my own version of Lazy Ass Dinner, “hmm don’t have that and skip that” …. Afterall, anything tastes good with ketchup right?

    Alas I confess that Stir Fry is my quick fixin friend. Rice or quinoa into the microwave and all things veggie into the frying pan. A little seasoning depending on what’s in the cupboard and voila dinner in less than 30 minutes. If only my kids thought it was so great…..that’s why frozen mini pizzas were invented, isn’t it?


  4. Janet Tufts says:

    This is just too weird. I have had a half a green cabbage in my fridge for about 6 months and today decided it was time to cut the black edges off and make cole slaw. I haven’t made cole slaw in years and I HAD NOT read the blog. On one hand I am blown away by the coincidence and on the other hand kicking myself for not reading the blog sooner and trying this very interesting-looking recipe. Oh well, maybe I will win the book and have the recipe at my disposal for the next decade that I decide to make cole slaw. Ha ha…


  5. Karen Jacobsen says:

    Do I ever like the sound of this cookbook. I love to cook for my family and at meal time I happily search out what I think will be tasty and nutritious recipes. After shopping for all ingredients and slaving over the proverbial hot stove-I find that my husband will be working late again and I have to scream to get the kids away from the computer or Xbox, to come to the table. I have two boys, the older son will try anything but will complain that the food is too boring and the younger one will not try anything if it’s not plain! What’s a girl supposed to do call for pizza again……


  6. Okay, despite the fact that I love to cook, I also suffer from severe (usually winter-induced) depression. Until yesterday, when I had someone over to help me clean (read: do it for me), there were no more than a couple of odd-ball items that were clean, and frankly, what can you do with a pasta machine on a daily basis? Yes, it’s the end of May, and I haven’t made anything in my own kitchen except for microwave dinners in a very long time. I would really enjoy this book. Also, because people assume (sometimes mistakenly) that I’m a really creative, natural cook, they ask for advice. That’s great, unless they have no way of following it, since their idea of cooking creatively involves adding chopped parsley to the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. I would love to be able to suggest this book. I like how there’s only 135 recipes, instead of the usual 6,294,738 that you have to wade through. Sounds like a winner to me.


  7. Deb says:

    Not really crabby – but the sister-in-law is not open to new choices. Quinoa – what’s quinoa or mache – Mache what’s that. Would love more recipes to make her ask – what’s that?? Love reading cook books & this looks like a “good read”.


  8. My best friend is a crabby cook and won’t hear any advice. This would be a great gift to win for her!


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