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Cookery Books - Part III

It is time for the third and final blog on the theme of cooking and this time our attention turns to baking. First of all: how did you get on with Weeks 1 and 2? Have you been into that kitchen and tried your hand at making something, at baking something, at cooking up a storm? Maybe you also found some time to take a break, to have a rest and to read some of the fictional baking stories? Perhaps these offered some inspiration, too? As always, lots of baking and cooking has taken place here – I am very proud of my first soufflé of 2022…

Soufflé can be sweet or savoury. Mine was the latter, made for an evening meal. But now I want to turn back the clock and take us to breakfast time (again … in Week Two we sampled Gloria’s Porridge for breakfast). This week we are going to try Pie For Breakfast. Written by Cynthia Cliff, this is very much a baking book for children - and a brilliant concept, too. Before the book begins, make sure to meet Hazel who lives with her mum and dad and loves to bake - so much so, that their house smells amazing! They bake at any and every time of day and Hazel likes to test the results, even if it is pies for breakfast (which dad says is okay, so long as it is not every day)! To help us understand why, the narrative is interspersed with some great bakes that could definitely be a great breakfast. My favourite from this one has to be ‘Apple Custard Muffins’, the perfect breakfast treat - and healthy, too. There is also something else I love about this book: its celebration of diverse foods, including foods from around the world, food for vegans and even those who need gluten-free. A completely charming cookbook published by Prestel.

Having met Hazel and her friends in the last book, it is probably now clear (and also from the two previous Blogs) that Kids Can Bake. Esther Coombs has created a book (published by Button Books) bursting with recipes to be baked by kids, big and small. Of all the books I have used and of all the books we have featured, this one is coming close to being a favourite because it has taught me how to bake cookies… properly! I love the way in which the recipes in the book are laid out: with simple instructions and illustrations for every step of the way which show us all how to bake cakes, biscuits, pies, puddings, and tarts. You will quickly learn - as I did - just how easy it is! Practise important skills such as measuring, weighing and counting, and discover that there are some delicious results to be had. It will come as no surprise, then, to learn that my favourite recipe is ‘Cookies’ - and whilst I tried the simple vanilla, there are six mouth-watering variations to attempt next, plus lots of other really great bakes…

Finally, it is time to step into Fleurville and enjoy not just a moment of baking and cooking, but A Year in Fleurville. With recipes from balconies, rooftops and gardens, collected together and presented to us by Felicita Sala (published by Scribble), this book is a guide to gardening throughout the year. Meeet the people of Fleurville, their gardens, their growing, and their produce. In each garden we come to - wherever in the city it may be - there is someone tending to their produce. We see Maria picking asparagus in the spring; in the summer Ramon’s mum is watering her cucumbers; autumn brings the whole neighbourhood out for pumpkins and squash; and winter sees Fatima storing her potatoes in cool, dark places to keep them safe and sound for eating until the new crop. As we work though the book, we follow the seasons and seasonal recipes. Looking forward now to spring, I found my favourite recipe in ‘Asparagus Quiche’. The sweet taste of this wonderful green shoot is bright and savoury, reminding us that spring is firmly on its way - and with it, a wonder of seed sowing, plating and growing.

Now that we have come full circle through the growing year - having explored baking and cooking in all its many and varied styles, though recipe books, through story and though recipe books inspired by story - I hope that you too have been inspired… and that 2022 will prove to be a fruitful year in the kitchen for you, too.

Louise Ellis-Barrett


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