Cookbook Review: The First Mess

I ordered this cookbook, along with two others last week. I made myself wait until yesterday to look at them, so I could take my time and enjoy reading each recipe. I am starting with The First Mess and the first thing I noticed was that each recipe has a picture! For just under $24 and a hardcover at that, each recipe with a photo is impressive!

The book starts with the standard bits about the author, how to stock your pantry, and kitchen equipment. That’s the first 23 pages. Then it moves on to breakfast – a couple drink recipes, one for making almond milk, breakfast cookies, chickpea scramble, pancakes and waffles, a few savory recipes, and some breakfast cereals like steel-cut oats and granola. Not one smoothie recipe in this section, so if you aren’t into smoothies for breakfast, this is for you.

The next section is soups and stews. The vegetable dal and the Deep Immune Cup of Soup are my favorites from this section.

Next up is salads and dressings. There are a few dressing recipes, a couple green salads, a potato salad, and a fair number of roasted veg salads. I’m glad for the last one because I need ideas on how to eat roasted vegetables in a variety of ways now that it’s getting cooler outside. (I hate roasting anything when it’s 100 degrees outside!)

These sections all look pretty filling on their own, but the next section is main entrees. I’ll probably try the Rice and Bean Veggie Burgers from this section as it looked the most promising for everyone in the family to try.

The following section is veggies and grains, maybe a couple recipes I would eat but probably wouldn’t make for my husband and kids.

Drinks and Small Bites – here’s your smoothies! There’s one for a caramel shake, a switchel, iced tea, crackers (this actually looks doable!), granola bars, a few dips and a popcorn topping. I’ll try some of these, I’m sure.

Last up are desserts and this part of the book is pretty substantial. Fruit crumble, mousse, cookies, brownies, cheesecake, scones, breads, cupcake, ice cream (no ice cream maker required!)… if you have a sweet-tooth, you’ll enjoy this section.

I see quite a few recipes in here that I’m ready to try!

Most of the recipes are either gluten-free or can be modified with gluten-free flours. Maybe not the bread and scones though? As far as ingredients go, it’s pretty tame. I saw a few listed, like sumac, tarragon, carraway seeds, and brown rice syrup, that I don’t have. If it seems like a small deal, I’ll make a recipe without an ingredient or I google to see what I could use instead.

Laura Wright has helpfully labeled each recipe with serving sizes and what each recipe is “free from” (gluten-free, nut-free, oil-free, no added sugar, and cane sugar-free). The other information that would be helpful is cooking time. As an aside, my husband would like for recipes to also label how many dishes are required so you’ll know ahead of time how many dirty dishes you’ll have at the end.

Some recipes have longer ingredient lists, which can be daunting to a beginner or if you are trying to put food on the table in a hurry. Just flipping through, I’d say the average recipe is 10-15 ingredients. But they are pretty much all fresh ingredients (like fresh produce) and pantry staples, for the most part. Also, there are a lot of recipes that use nuts, which can add to the cost. I was relieved to see only a few recipes with mushrooms. Some vegan cookbooks rely very heavily on mushrooms and none of us are big fans.

This one is definitely worth looking into, especially if you are vegan and also gluten-free.