Angel Food and The Good Cook
Lynda Brown - 31 December 2011
These two new cook books, the first by Joyce Molyneux and Gerard Baker, and the second by Simon Hopkinson, plus a lot of Jane Austin have kept me occupied over Christmas. In my mind, at least, there's a sort of connection. Jane Austin wrote perennial classics. Her books are as much about doing the right thing, as much as they are love stories.So it is with these cooks : a life long love affair with real food and proper cooking, matched with an equal desire to get it right - ie to honour and respect their ingredients, and make a dish tasty and harmonious, so that when you eat it, it makes you feel good. No showmanship, food fads, dreaming up recipes , or ego on a plate. Eclectic, yes; seasonal, always;pretentious, never. Like Jane Austin, they do not court fame, but prefer to be on the back burner, what a refreshing change !
What you get instead is a wealth of experience at the stove, and tried and trusted recipes that stand the test of time, and which will last. I truly believe this sort of cooking is paramount to the fundamental quality of life - and actually has far reaching consequences.You see, it all does begin with your approach to food. I believe absolutely that junk food produces junk mentalities. Call me old-fashioned but turning cooking into entertainment, something to be gawped at rather than do, combined with the domination of supermarkets over every aspect of food and cooking - we don't even have to weigh ingredients anymore, hasn't helped either; my polite way of saying TV and supermarkets have a lot to answer for, and not in a good way.
Prue Leith in her foreword to Angel Food (all proceeds, by the way, go to Save the Children) , puts her finger on it when she says "there is no more effective way of tackling the two horrors of modern times: obesity and starvation, than to teach the world to grow and cook." She makes the point that Angel Food's recipes reflect the truth that food education is not confined to nutrition, food production or politics, but is mainly taught in the allotment and kitchen. Right on. " How can we stem the tide" she asks, "of ill-health, eating disorders and unhappiness if we do not teach our children how to eat?".
The same could be said for Simon Hopkinson's recipes - I defy anyone not to salivate on the spot and want to immediately start cooking them; even more importantly , want to eat them - who begins his intro by saying for him, "cookery is a pleasure that is also a part of daily life". Again, right on.
There are lots of ways to save the planet, but to save mankind, we need to learn to cook: just simply, but well. These books will do that in a way that will nourish you for a lifetime.That's why I rate them . Nice pics, too....
Lynda is an award-winning food writer and broadcaster, and keen advocate for organic living. She is author of several food books over the last twenty years including Planet Organic: Organic Living, The Cook's Garden, and The Modern Cook's Handbook, as well as writing The Preserving Book that was published in 2010 in association with the Soil Association. Lynda is an expert on food and nutrition and a seasoned broadcaster, regularly speaking on food and farming both on the radio and television.
04 October 2012 07:05
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