Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The River Cottage Family Cookbook

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall & Fizz Carr

Ten Speed Press

This is a fantastic family cookbook! The term family cookbook translates as a book intended for everyone in your family to use. Yes, there are recipes, over one hundred of them. But there is much more - food history, fun facts, carefully worded explanations, step-by-step photos, fun family projects and even suggestions on eating the finished products.

The chapters are arranged by main ingredient, as listed in the column to the left. Honestly, the history provided for each item is fascinating, which I was surprised by. How is sugar made? Why are there different types of flour? What makes yeast work? Where does salt come from? They do a wonderful job of illustrating the journey each food undergoes en route to your table.

The authors firmly believe if you understand the rationale behind the recipes, you'll be a better cook. They provide the reason behind the season, so to speak, designed to take the guesswork out of your kitchen. Don't be intimidated by the lengthy recipes. Take a closer look and you'll see the length is due to proper explanations provided for each step, along with benchmarks on how your dish should be coming along in appearance and texture. Someone who has never set foot in the kitchen could pick up this cookbook, select a recipe and be successful. No prior knowledge is required, which is a exactly what a new cook wants to hear.The recipes range from simple Drop Scones to the more involved French-Style Apple Tart.

There is ample opportunity for each family member to get their hands dirty. Following each recipe are tips on how to eat the finished product and possible ingredient variations. For more fun, give the family projects a try. Make your own yogurt, grow a small potato garden, create a personal ice cream maker, make your own sausages and more. Each serves as a learning tool to help families better understand their food.

I know a dozen people who would benefit from this book - many of whom would like to cook, but have never been taught how. Involving your children in the cooking process has a huge impact on the rest of their lives. Get your children accustomed to the kitchen while they are young, shape their culinary abilities and boost their confidence. Build a cook!

See all the how-to videos put together by the River Cottage Web Team.

Other cookbooks from the River Cottage:


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