Bangor-based food writer Sarah Walker Caron’s toughest critics are her kids. They’re used to mom trying out new recipes for various meals, and they aren’t afraid to tell Caron — better known by Bangor Daily News readers as features editor for the BDN and editor of Bangor Metro Magazine — when they do or don’t like something.
The recipes in Caron’s newest cookbook, “The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook,” come directly out of those shared dinners, cooked quickly once mom and kids are all home from their busy day at school and work. The book is geared toward anyone with a limited amount of time, basic cooking skills and the desire to feed healthy, flavorful meals to their family. Most can be made in 30 minutes or less, and with just a handful of inexpensive ingredients.
“Of course I would love to eat meals that are time-consuming to make, but I just don’t have the time — and that’s not how I cook every day,” Caron said. “This is stuff that’s fast, easy and basic. It’s something that’s feasible to make when we all get home at 7:30 or 8 p.m., and we all need to eat dinner right away.”
Though “The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook” isn’t meant for total beginners, Caron said that her daughter, 10-year-old Paige, could make almost everything in the book. The recipes contained in its 160 pages also include almost all whole-food ingredients — there’s barely anything processed to be found.
“I really don’t use a lot of processed ingredients. I like to start from the raw ingredient and go from there,” Caron said. “Cooking from scratch doesn’t always have to take time.”
There are also some funky, unexpected treats, for all three meals — such as several single-serve breakfast cakes that can be made in less than five minutes, in a coffee mug in a microwave, including a Blueberry Muffin Mug Cake and a Brown Sugar Oatmeal Mug Cake. There’s a wide array of vegetarian dishes that can be made in a flash, from Angel Hair Pasta with Garlic Spinach to a Parmesan-Leek Quiche.
Caron cooks each recipe in the book at least two or three times to make sure it’s just right — and as stated before, she’s got a willing audience to test them on.
“While writing this book, I was testing multiple recipes every day. It was quite an amusing process, trying a few bites of three or four different dinners,” she said. “Some things they definitely did not like, but then sometimes we’ll get a big hit, like the caramelized onion and provolone chicken. That was one where they wanted to eat the whole thing.”
“The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook” is published by Rockridge Press, and is available in paperback wherever books are sold and locally at The Briar Patch in downtown Bangor.
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