It's the little things.
How is that going to work?

A cook after my own heart.

I don't typically "read" cookbooks. (As Mr. CR could tell you, I've got a rotation of about ten meals, heavy on the casseroles, that I bore him with on a regular schedule.) But when Mark Bittman comes out with a new cookbook, I make an exception.

Bittman His new Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express: 404 Inspired Seasonal Dishes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less, is nothing short of awesome. I'm particularly happy that he beat Rachael Ray's 30-minute meal times (I dislike Rachael Ray, even though I typically love smokers, I just find her totally boring and her food the worst kind of mishmash that can be thrown together out of cans), and he did it with style. After a short intro about some basic things that you might consider having in your pantry, he gets down to the recipes, each of which are a short paragraph long, including ingredients lists:

"Zucchini and Dill Soup: Grate a couple of zucchini. Cook a chopped onion in butter until softened, then add the zucchini and stir until softened, five minutes or so. Add vegetable or chicken stock and bring to a boil; simmer for about five minutes, then puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and lots of fresh chopped dill."

And that's it! Now, as I am too lazy to measure anything, a cookbook like this (for me) is glorious. (He does say up front that the recipes are all meant to make about 3-4 servings, so I'm guessing you'd just add enough stock in the above recipe for what you think 3-4 servings might look like.) I realize that not everyone likes to cook that way. But for those of us who just like to slop it together? Yummy.

I also love Mark Bittman because he says things like this: (For the type of dairy you should have around): "For cooking, half-and-half or heavy cream is more useful than milk, but if you drink milk you already have it around*, so that's fine. Butter: unsalted, please. And sour cream and/or yogurt: At least occasionally, I prefer the full-fat kinds." (p. 13.)

I love the emphasis on using what you normally have in the house. Also, I'm touched he put in a good word for full-fat dairy (it's the only way to fly, if you ask me), even if just occasionally. Last but not least, I love that he has a tiny kitchen. Talk about doing more with less.

*IF you drink milk? As the daughter of a dairy farmer and someone who is interested in all of your bone health, I would suggest that, short of lactose intolerance problems, ALL of you drink milk. And you thought I didn't care about you.