This unique graphic novel is the ultimate guide to frugal eating

The first cookbook I ever owned was Mollie Katzen’s “Moosewood Cookbook,” which taught me how to make whimsical-looking quiches, cornbread, and vegetarian soups when I was wading past college. . Truly alone for the first time, I found solace in the book’s handwritten pages and sketchy illustrations, which struck a balance between yearning for beautiful things and remaining realistic about a person’s time and budget. Since then, I haven’t found many contemporary cookbooks that spoke directly to people who are, frankly, broke – apart from vintage collections of recipes from women’s church groups and the phenomenal “Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown. (Stay tuned for an interview with Brown, coming soon on my podcast, Extra Spicy.)

Enter the “Poorcraft Cookbook”, an upcoming entry in the genre written and illustrated by Nero Villagallos O’Reilly that is shaping up to be one of the most impactful cookbooks of the year. Presented in graphic novel form, with an art style reminiscent of silent cartoons from the 1930s, the book is a collection of culinary wisdom for beginners. Want to learn how to shop smart at the dollar store? Not sure how to best clean a refrigerator? Confused about the labeling of organic and GMO products? O’Reilly’s characters, resourceful Penny and her stressed-out pal Milli, explain the things we all wish we knew when standing out on our own.

I could easily find myself gifting copies to my college-aged cousins ​​to help them complete the pancake and scrambled egg recipes in their repertoires, or sharing with friends who are overwhelmed when shopping. If you’re reading this, you’re probably interested in food, and this book is a great way to share that interest in a generous, non-judgmental way. There are over 100 recipes in this book, and O’Reilly illustrates all the kneading, grating, and stirring involved in the same cartoonish, yet clear style, with prose that aims for accessibility. The recipes are a nice balance between basic dishes and more elaborate dishes: you can learn how to prepare a grilled cheese sandwich and all its variations; thick atole made from masa harina; and French mother sauces like velouté and a Spanish beef broth.

Although the book is part of a larger series about living on a tight budget, you don’t need to have experience with previous volumes to enjoy it. According to C. Spike Trotman, who created the series for his publishing house, Iron Circus Comics, readers have been asking for a cookbook ever since the original Poorcraft came out in 2009. This edition included a fried rice recipe to clean. , but people wanted more. “All the comments I received were like, ‘That’s not enough! I want to know more about spices. I want to know more about kitchen utensils. I want to know more about shopping’ , she said.

It’s incredibly easy to get by in this country if you don’t cook. Not everyone has the chance to learn from their parents and guardians. Home economics classes, if you’re lucky enough to have them, won’t teach you more than a few basic recipes either. “But because of that convenience, a lot of people hit like 23, 24 (years old) and they can’t cook the rice,” Trotman said. (There’s a steamed rice recipe in the book, for your reference.)

“I try to convince people that you don’t have to eat garbage all your life,” Trotman said, after thinking of a more charitable way to phrase it. You don’t have to settle for eating things you don’t really like just because you’re intimidated by cooking or don’t think you have the ability to create a sumptuous lunch for yourself. “You know, quality food isn’t just the New York Strip. I understand how someone might have that idea, but you can make the most incredible plate of beans and rice, and you can sit down and savor that and have the most satisfying dining experience. You deserve good food, and good food is easier than you think.”

The Poorcraft Cookbook by Nero Villagallos O’Reilly. Now available for pre-order. (Iron Circus Comics; $15; 288 pages)

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