Michelle Tam

Ready or Not! – 150+ Make-Ahead, Make-Over, and Make-Now Recipes by Nom Nom Paleo by Michelle Tam, Henry Fong.

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Andrews McMeel Publishing for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

Well, I have to start by saying this is a very different cook book to the ones I am used to reading and reviewing and, for a while, I wasn’t too sure if I was finding it refreshingly different or just a little too off centre for my liking. So, yeah, mixed feelings about the layout and formatting, but we will get to that later.

What I did love about ‘Ready or Not!’ is that it is my sort of paleo. I am a whole foods, make from scratch but nobody’s perfect sort of person… In fact I am known for calling myself perfectly imperfect and sometimes just eat cereal for dinner (gluten free and in activated almond milk but still cereal)!

And I really do find the term ‘Paleo’ has been given a really bad name in recent years as it’s gone from a generic term for just plain and simple whole food eating to anti this and ban that and “it’s all meat and you must hunt it yourself or you’re not a Paleo”…. I hate labels. And so refuse to call myself paleo due to all this negativity. It’s not a cult people! It’s a suggestion on how to eat food!

Which is why I loved ‘Ready or Not!’ as it not only seems to follow a similar perfectly imperfect lifestyle, but also seems to have gone back to the old style, far more flexible approach to paleo and so I am not ashamed to say I have read it… Or now follow ‘Nom Nom Paleo – Michelle Tan’ on Facebook. What can I say? Her food looks amazing and the recipes are simple and very easy to follow.

I will state here and now that my own personal food allergies and intolerances (recapping for those who don’t know me – wheat, allium, seafood, dairy to name a few) mean that not all recipes were suitable for me… while some could be fine-tuned to suit my needs and others were perfect to just go with… I’m looking at you Pina Colada Tapioca pudding!

So another reason to have mixed emotions as not every recipe in ‘Ready or Not!’ could be made in my house. And so as much as the book tempts and excites me with its differences… I am also disappointed it is yet another cook book that is hit and miss for my diet. Won’t anyone think of the allium intolerant? 😉

Okay, back to the layout and formatting of ‘Ready or Not!’ and me stating it’s very different to the norm. I mean, my 12 year old daughter loves it, but she is really into Manga and graphic novels – as well as inheriting my cook book addiction. It is indeed rather… unique being set out like a manga book but then again I think our modern new home cooks would like it as it has the set by set pictures and instructions, it has the smiley faces and constant chatter of making it like a one on one cooking conversation and would give them that feeling instant gratification the younger generation seems to need.

But for me? And my love of 100 year old (and then some) cook books that consist of a paragraph or two and the belief the reader knows their way around a kitchen and doesn’t need to be spoon fed each ingredient… yeah, I can’t say I enjoyed the manga style that much. A little too dumbed down and babyish for me.

Oh, and it is written for an American audience so uses imperial measurements and the American names for foods – such a cilantro rather than coriander. This may be a stumbling block for some new cooks here in Australia but who knows? Do Aussie kids still say capsicum rather than peppers? Maybe I am just outdated again. 😉

However! What I did love about the layout was how the recipes were broken down into different “are you ready?” sections… Hence the name ‘Ready or Not!’ I guess.

There is the intro that tells you all about how the book is laid out, then then prep section for sauces and other basics. Then we hit the section where you have all the time in the world to cook. The section for having some time to cook and the section on having no time and just wanting a wholesome family meal ASAP. This was great as I have days like this where I either have all the time in the world, a little time or none at all and so the idea of having a go to recipe idea for each time limit was great. Again, not all the recipes in any of these sections suited my personal dietary restrictions, but I really did love that layout as I honestly feel it a great way to encourage more people to skip the instant meals and take away and try their hand at some simple but tasty whole food home cooked meals.

So, yeah, a bit of a like/ unlike relationship happening here. 😀 I love the passion, enthusiasm and talent shown by Ms Tan and her family and I do love the styles of meals as Cantonese food – via Darwin – is my childhood comfort food. And so there was some definite connection there that has made this book somewhat appealing despite my also dislike of it. Oh dear, I am getting a split personality over it! 😀

Would I recommend this book to others?

You know, I think I would. But I would be recommending it to the younger generations. I can’t see myself or my mother wanting to race out and buy it… but I can see myself buying it for my daughter to add to her slowing increasing cook book collection.
It is a good cook book, but just one meant more for the modern generation rather than an old fuddy duddy like me. 😉

Would I buy this book for myself?

Ummm, I MIGHT sneak an electronic copy onto my tablet as a “just in case” as there were some really appealing recipes in ‘Ready or Not!’ or I might buy a paper version for my daughter and pinch it from time to time. I really can’t be sure… it interests me and I love the vibe Ms Tan has created… but manga cook books just go against my grain. 😉

In summary: a great cook book for the next generation of whole food home cooks.

Until next time,

Janis.