Saturday, June 6, 2009

Review by Darden North, MD

Rising Celebrity Chef Wows Both Beginner and Master of the Flame, March 3, 2009
By Darden North (Jackson, MS) - See all my reviews
Stir, Laugh, Repeat: Finding Joy While Playing in the Kitchen
Author: Martha A Cheves Publisher: Tate Publishing
Submitted by Darden North, MD

My wife has often suggested I take up cooking. In fact, one of my physician friends was recently featured in our local paper doing just that. It seems that the anesthesiologist expertly prepares gourmet meals on his grill and makes it look easy. Anyway, I have never taken my wife's suggestion about cooking and instead have started writing books. And it seems that a major aspect of being a twenty-first century author is networking with other writers as well as with readers --- lots of readers, one hopes.

This networking has lead me to author Martha A. Cheves and her culinary creations in the beautiful cookbook Stir, Laugh, Repeat: Finding Joy While Playing in the Kitchen. Frankly, this is the first time I have ever paid any attention to a cookbook, other than the time my wife Sally proofed and wrote the index for one and the dishes she has whipped up from the many other cookbooks filling the shelves in our kitchen.

However, were I to take up cooking, the unique quality of Cheves's Stir, Laugh, Repeat would be a premium start. The value of Martha's work rests in its straightforward, easy-to-follow directions that even a doctor can follow. You see, a physician's true surgical talent lies in making the correct diagnosis, counseling the ailing patient, and successfully performing the corrective surgery. While reading and chuckling through Stir, Laugh, Repeat, it quickly hit me like a flying frying pan that Martha A. Cheves is clearly the a surgeon of the kitchen. Furthermore, she emerges as a soft humorist whose talents rival her celebrity contemporaries.

Through Cheves's incorporation into her recipes of items commonly found at the neighborhood grocery, if not already found in one's pantry, she makes easy use of leftovers, turning any kitchen into the envy of a popular restaurant and any cooking-illiterate male physician into a Chef Emeril Lagasse-wannabe. Cheves links clever anecdotes and personal stories to creations. One of my favorites concerns her invitation to a restaurant meal as the guest of her significant other's ex-wife. Throughout her unexpected enjoyment of the company as well as the chicken entrée, Cheves mentally dissects the delectable preparation even as she plans to recreate the ingredients into her own personal dish.

Another plus for beginner cooks, certainly to be appreciated by busy, no non-nonsense masters of the flame as well, is the book's index, which is alphabetized by food categories: breads, desserts, fruits, meats, etc. So if I were going to take up cooking like my doctor friend, I would start with Stir, Laugh, Repeat by Martha A. Cheves. Nevertheless, for now, I'm going to hang with my laplaptop and write mystery novels in my spare time, leaving my wife to try Cheves's pecan or meatloaf muffins, maybe the tasty fried pineapple, the spicy chicken salad spread, or the freezer clean-out beef veggie soup. I'll just continue to fire up my own outdoor grill, and thrill my family and friends with the occasional juicy steak, marinated chicken breast, or thick cheeseburger. I have those recipes in my head.
--- by Darden North, MD
North practices medicine fulltime in Jackson, MS, and is the author of three mystery/suspense novels.

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