This cookbook has a copyright of 1984. I bought this book back in 1984 though I have no idea where from (it may have been a donation to the PBS station!). I have cooked from this before.
Though I did watch most cooking shows on PBS back in the day, it was Jeff Smith who made me want to cook. I loved his show. It was so...doable. I felt I COULD cook the things he was cooking. I understood him when he explained things. I used to set my alarm on Saturday mornings (even if I had been out late on Friday) so I wouldn't miss his show. Somewhere in storage I have most of his shows on videotape. As you can see by the cover of the book, I read this cookbook over and over. This was a companion book to his PBS show and the book lists the television show numbers along with the recipes. To this day, I still remember and recite "Hot pan, cold oil, food won't stick."
Did I cook from it? Probably more than any other book from my collection, though that meant only a handful of recipes. Barbecued Shrimp and My Cousin David's Hot Szechwan Chicken are two dishes I've made more than once each because they are so good. Chinese Oven Barbeque Spareribs, Chicken Piccata and Chicken Pieces with Lime. Everything I've made from this cookbook has been good.
The cookbook has recipes of a little bit of everything. Pastas, soups, breads, low-salt, early American, international. Though Jeff Smith states his recipes are frugal, he says that doesn't mean they are 'cheap'. It just means that you are careful with your time and products. Most of the foods he uses are fresh, you won't find a ton of pre-made foods in these recipes.
His glossary (which is at the front of the book) was huge for me when I bought this book. There is a section on "practical hints" (deglazing a pan, peeling a tomato), one on "kitchen equipment" (What pots and pans to have, what certain gadgets are for), a section on "cooking terms", "ingredients and food definitions" and "herbs and spices". Back in the mid 80's there really weren't many books that were simple and easy to read that gave all this information (and weren't children's cookbooks). Yes there was Joy of Cooking, but that book was intimidating! This wasn't.
Each recipe has a little story or a bit of history on where Mr. Smith got the recipe, who he serves it to or little tips that might help you prepare the dish. The recipes are fairly easy to follow, with good little tips on what to do. There are no photos.
I can't read a recipe in this book without hearing Jeff Smiths voice. Almost every recipe in this book is something I want to try and I will forever be grateful to Jeff Smith for starting me on this little cooking adventure (even if it did take me 25 years to get going!).