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Book Review: “Cooking, Baking, and Making” by Cynthia O’Hara

The freshest foods are those that are in season. But with the freezer aisle beckoning and the wide array of processed and packaged foods available, our culture has gotten away from seasonal cooking. That is probably why there is a growing trend of cooking, baking and making foods that are fresh, local and in season. However, if you’re not used to thinking this way, you may be challenged when deciding what to make tonight. That’s where Cooking, Baking, and Making by Cynthia O’Hara comes in.

Book Review: "Cooking, Baking, and Making" by Cynthia O'Hara

Summary of Cooking, Baking, and Making

From the woman behind the “Harried Housewife” blog, Cynthia O’Hara comes a book with DIY recipes and ideas for the entire year. Cooking, Baking, and Making includes 60 recipes and 40 crafting and decorating ideas that tie your home together all year long.

The book is divided into the four seasons. And within each section, you’ll find recipes that make use of seasonal ingredients and that evoke the feel of the season. For example:

  • Spring: Strawberries are at their peak in the spring, so you can make Creamy Strawberry Stuffed French Toast or Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp.
  • Summer: The most popular cherries, Bing and Rainier, are in season from May to August, so bring out the blender and make some Mango/Cherry Smoothies.
  • Autumn: Winter squash of all sorts (e.g. pumpkin, acorn, butternut) comes into season in early fall and usually last well into winter. Therefore a Roasted Acorn Squash Bisque is a great way to start a meal.
  • Winter: Winter is when people come together and share food and beverages to celebrate the season. At your next winter festivity, perhaps you’ll serve Pomegranate Champagne Sparkler or Creamy Eggnot Cupcakes.

In addition to the recipes, there are a number of DIY decorating ideas to bring your home and table together nicely, including Doily Wrapped Utensils, Decorative Coasters, and seasonal centerpieces.

What Worked for Me

I like the idea of seasonal foods, as well as DIY home decor. The motto of this blog is “Unleash Your Kitchen Creativity” after all. The idea of blending creativity in both food preparation and home decor is right up my alley.

The recipes are laid out well, and so are easy to follow. The crafting instructions are easy to understand, as well.

The photographs make this a fun book to peruse and ignited my desire to make the recipes.

What Didn’t Work for Me

The title, for one. “Cooking, Baking, and Making” is a bland, nondescript title that really wouldn’t catch my eye at the bookstore. I had to really engage with the book before I understood what O’Hara was getting at.

The crafting section isn’t a section on its own, it is just thrown into the Winter section, which makes no sense when the first craft is “Spring Centerpiece” followed by “Easy Easter Edibles.”

In addition, the recipes in the Winter section really don’t make use of the variety of produce that is in season. Yes, this isn’t her stated promise, but it is implied.

What I’d Love to See in the Second Edition

I would love to see this book better organized. For example, perhaps break each season into recipes and crafts. That way “Spring Centerpiece” could be found in the Spring section. Also, make it more clear which entries are recipes and which are crafts. Shouldn’t “Easy Easter Edibles” be listed as a recipe and not treated as a craft?


Although poorly organized, the book is full of tasty-looking recipes and interesting decorating ideas. It is also written with a limited budget and cooking skills in mind, so it is good for beginners.

Rating for Cooking, Baking, and Making by Cynthia O’Hara

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Full Title: Cooking, Baking, and Making: 100 Recipes and DIY Ideas for All Seasons and Reasons
Author: Cynthia O’Connor O’Hara
Format: Paperback, 224 pages
Publisher: Mango
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1633535568
ISBN-13: 978-1633535565

Cooking, Baking, and Making by Cynthia O'Hara

Pick up your copy on Amazon.com here.

NOTE: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. If you’ve read past book reviews, you’ll know that I don’t pull my punches when I believe they are warranted. I also try to provide balanced information so you can make your own decision to read or not read the book, even if you disagree with my opinion.

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About the author

Carma Spence has been experimenting in the kitchen since she was four years old and loves trying out new recipe ideas. She is the author of Bonkers for Bundt Cakes and Your Perfect Pie, as well as author and contributor to several more non-food-related books. With Carma's Cookery, she is taking her passion for empowering people and blending it with her passion for cooking, gift-giving and entertaining.