Book Review: A Cook’s Year

I’ve been putting off writing this review for so long! Honestly, it’s a beautiful book; gorgeous pictures, engaging prose that makes you want to ditch everything and move to a remote country farmhouse…but for some reason I just get a mental block when it comes to using it. It’s time to let it go and move on.

First I had to rule out recipes where awkward members of the family would refuse to eat it (goodbye everything with mushrooms), then the ones with hard to get or expensive ingredients (venison, squirrel, etc), then finally everything that my ADHD brain classified as too much bother. It didn’t leave much.

Another issue, fairly common with books written by “posh” people (yes, I’m looking at you, Nigella) is a lack of serving suggestions. It not always obvious what vegetables or carby side dishes will go well. I’m sure that white bean and foraged herb salad, for example, is delicious, but not by itself. Posh person food often seems to me to be a little unbalanced nutritionally.

But, it is a beautiful book, and worth keeping just for the recipe for Hedgerow Jelly – a wonderful mix of wild autumn fruits. Maybe one day I won’t have to worry about who I’m cooking for, and will be able to make the things that appeal to me?

A Cook’s Year in a Welsh Farmhouse by Elizabeth Luard. Bloomsbury, 2011.

Why did you buy it?

Good question. It’s pretty, and I’d been following the author in her articles in Country Living magazine, which is where I discovered the recipe for Hedgerow Jelly.

Judge a book by it’s cover…

I am supremely jealous of the author’s lifestyle.

Do you use it?

Next question please.

What did you make?

It’s been so long since starting this one that I can’t remember! Only apple bread and lemon liqueur spring to mind. They were nice enough, but not remarkable.

Is it still in print?

I don’t think so, but is easy to get second hand.

Is it worth buying?

That’s a tricky one. If you like reading cookbooks, or you have ready access to fancy ingredients (and plenty of cash), or you enjoy foraging, then yes. If you want simpler, easy to cook meals that won’t scare off picky eaters, then probably not.

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