Praise for Supper Swapping


Review from "Daring Young Mom" blogger-

Thursday, April 20, 2006

As many of you know, I am part of a dinner co-op. I love cooking…once a week… and I love free stuff. So when Susan Thacker asked to send me a copy of her cookbook Supper Swapping so that I could review it on my blog, I was excited and a little nervous. I knew it was my bloggeristic duty to give it an honest review, whether I liked the book or not.

The book gives tips and instructions for trading dinners with friends and neighbors, something I could give a testimonial about any day of the week. I’ve been trading dinners for over a year and if I had to go back to cooking every single day, I think I’d have some sort of breakdown. Besides saving us time and money, sharing meals gives our families a real sense of community.

In Supper Swapping, Susan lays out the basics for trading dinners and also includes fun little suggestions to make cooking more enjoyable, like choosing theme music to go with the style of food you’re preparing. She also gives tips on how to save money on your shopping and stock your pantry.

Most of this information was not revolutionary to me at this point in my “supper swapping” career, although I think it would have been helpful back when I was just getting started. I also have to admit that I’m really excited to play music from "La Traviata" next time I make spaghetti and meatballs.

What I love about Supper Swapping is that it’s a little book packed with amazing recipes. Thacker contacted dozens of top-notch chefs and sorted through their best recipes, choosing those that would be easy enough to be reproduced by the masses (read this: daring-young-wanna-be-master-chefs) but still restaurant quality, delicio-so and nutritionally dense. I have made seven of the 100+ recipes from the book, all either for company or for my dinner co-op, and each one was met with overwhelming approval by everyone. This is definitely a book I would choose for my collection.

If you'd like to learn more about her book, you can check it out on the Supper Swapping website. Recipes we loved and will make again include:

-Creole Sauce served over rice (from Charleston Restaurant, named by Zagat as 2003's most popular Baltimore restaurant)
-California Spinach Salad with homemade Vinaigrette Dressing
-Corn and Black Bean Salsa (delicious and healthful, more like a salad than a salsa)
-Chicken Enchiladas (the best recipe for these I've found)
-Chicken or Salmon with Buttery Cilantro Ginger Sauce (We've tried both and people have begged for the recipe.)
-Amazing Chocolate Pudding (heaven in a glass cup)


Reviewed by Freelance Writer, Stephanie Donovan, April 27, 2006

Meal assembly businesses are popping up around our communities like spring weeds. Classes are being touted to teach you to cook once for the whole week or month. Friends spread the word about supper clubs they've initiated. And, many faithfully tune into to celebrity chefs' words of wisdom on t.v. Let's face it, cooking is all the rage right now. But, more than cooking, the latest trends are changing how we think about dinner, and most importantly how we prepare food for our family. And, in my own quest to enjoy cooking but make dinnertime easier, I have tried all of the above at one time or another.

My meal assembly experiences were interesting. I tried it for quite awhile, but it proved a misfit for my family. My loved ones were a little too picky for the menus offered, and a need for very healthy eating was on the top of my doctor's advice. I never quite found the time in my schedule to cook ahead for the week at all. I did dive into a supper club with some neighbors that was fun for awhile, but after some health problems, I'd pulled out of it. It was too much work cooking for four families at once, especially my own dietary constraints did not mesh with what my other clubbers were cooking each week.

So, Susan Thacker's book, "
Supper Swapping: Cook Four Days a Month with Chefs' and Restaurants' Easy Recipes" intrigued me from my first glance. I love to cook and entertain, but I don't get to do the latter very often. So, when I noticed that the recipes in the book were contributed by some of the top chefs around the country, I was eager to try them. Everything looked like something you would eat in a trendy not-so-kid-friendly restaurant, and yet author touts that they are all simple enough to make at home for your own family and/or to swap with a friend.

The message behind Thacker's book is clear--classy food doesn't have to be overwhelming to prepare. In fact, it can be easy enough that you can do double-duty and make some for a friend, easing your cooking load for the month in a handy swap. What I liked about Thacker's book, was that it seemed to cover all the pitfalls that I had already fallen in doing meal assemblies and dinner club swaps in the past.

And, Thacker breaks down the dinner swapping process into easy bits to digest. I read most of the advice portion of the book in one night. And, her recommendations were right on the money, based on my prior experiences.

And, then came the best part--I tried the recipes. Well, actually, I am STILL trying the recipes because I have yet to come across one that wasn't outstanding! The Thai Soong (Lettuce Wraps) and accompanying sauce were as good as our favorite trendy Asian dinner's lettuce wraps. And, surprisingly, they were quite easy to make! These will become a staple in my house, now that we're moving to less processed food and lowering our carbohydrates at meals. Other amazing dishes included the Blueberry Spinach Salad with Toasted Pecans and Goat Cheese, Suzanne's Curry Chicken, and The Amuse Salad (provided by Houston's Renowned Executive Chef Kraig Thome from The University Club).

Another wonderful feature of Thacker's book is the "Kid's Rating" found at the bottom of each kid-tested recipe. You can easily flip through the book and find the dishes that kids' gave the thumbs up and know those might go over well with your own finicky kids' taste buds. Thacker includes a chapter on living a lower carbohydrate lifestyle with advice from experts, as well as a great section on what you need to get started with a dinner club or swap. She details many variations for dinner trades to make a point--finding the right system is crucial before you dive into the supper swapping game.

And, one of Thacker's key points is something I plan to put in action. That is, start with something small when you first try a swap. She recommends finding one friend, setting good ground rules ahead of time (for which she gives some great starting points), and test the waters out before you dive in deep.

With the recipes and advice from the Supper Swapping cookbook by my side, something tells me I'll be dazzling the taste buds of many friends for years to come.


Review on the Dr. Laura Program, January 5, 2005: 




Fall, 2005- “This timely concept of supper swapping is perfect for today’s busy families. The recipes and tips make cooking simple while providing delicious family friendly meals.”

-Anne Egan, Cookbook Author, Editor and
former Executive Editor Rodale Cookbooks.