The problem with the whole "for Dummies" book series is that it's hard to give them as presents. I can't think of anyone I'd want to offend by offering them a copy of 30-Minute Meals for Dummies. (Wiley; $19.99) But it could be a useful cookbook for anyone who wants to eat well without spending lots of time on it, which is almost everyone. It's a lot more than a cookbook -author Bev Bennett offers a quick-cook philosophy and a lot of useful tips. It includes suggestions about how to shop the salad bar, what pans work best for a stir-fry, transforming condensed soup into better meals, even what to do with restaurant doggie bag contents.
What's for lunch
Eating the food available at gas stations is not generally a good way to eat. I know because I took a camping vacation this summer where we somehow ended up getting all our dinner supplies from gas station mini-marts: it was cup noodles, bologna sandwiches, Slim Jims and Snapple for several days in a row. It would have been different had we been in the vicinity of a BP gas station with a Wild Bean Cafe.
There is one locally, in Mason, just off Interstate 71 at Ohio 741. I stopped in recently and was impressed to realize I could get a good thick sandwich with fresh ingredients made for me at the cafe counter. I even went vegetarian, with a sandwich of cheese, romaine, fresh vegetables, roasted red peppers and pesto on tomato herb bread.
They also have grilled chicken sandwiches, BLTs, roast beef, wraps, plus soups, salads and a nice coffee bar. It all beats greasy fast food, especially when you're on the road. Not every BP has a full-fledged Wild Bean Cafe, though many have the Wild Bean coffee.
We tried it
Betty Crocker's latest dessert mixes are for old-fashioned cobblers and crisps - the kind of desserts that are a little like a pie, but not so much trouble. With these mixes, it's not even a little trouble.
I tried the Apple Crisp, and it only took about a minute: Open the can of apples, mix the topping mix with water, sprinkle it on, bake.
But it was awfully sweet, with a mostly brown sugar topping that covered the apple filling. There was little contrast between the apples and the topping, unlike a homemade crisp made with sweet-tart apples and oatmeal.
Besides apple crisp, there is Southern-style peach cobbler and classic cherry cobbler in the line. Suggested retail price: $3.79
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