Aleksandra Mir

The How Not to Cookbook

By Gael Greene, New York, October 2010

Obviously The Martha doesn't need this book: The How Not to Cookbook: Lessons Learned the Hard Way, collected by Aleksandra Mir from 1000 cooks (Rizzoli $25). And maybe I don't either since I scarcely cook these days. Still reading it is fun and it could save a neophyte from self immolation and other inconveniences. It made me laugh. And even think.

"Do not use a plastic spoon to stir a cheese sauce. It can melt and sometimes people do not notice until after they have eaten." "A cucumber is a poor substitute for zucchini bread no matter how similar they appear." "Never cook with a towel over your arm." "Do not barbecue in a nylon negligee." Rather than this grand format, Mir's collection of sage and arch advice could ideally be packaged into a cute little $10.99 book - a perfect bridal shower gift. It's a little sexist too. "Do not ask a blonde to do a soft boiled egg." Really? But there you are. Some people think nothing of paying $25 for a lipstick.