I wish I had a three day weekend ahead of me. The week’s been a little busier than I’d really prefer it to be. That includes the two days I spent out of action due to some stomach problem.
So this weekend is going to have to do a lot of coddling. Food, inevitably, will be part of that and, for me, I like to turn to cookbooks at times of stress. And I like cookbooks that radiate the feel of home. Part of the magic of Nigel Slater is that he writes his cookbooks like diaries, and often arranged seasonally so that a read through the book is like a journey through the year. It’s almost time for me to start listening to The Christmas Chronicles, usually mid-August when I’m done with the summer and ready for the coolness of Autumn to caress my aching skin.
This week’s cookbook gives me the same comforting vibes. The Five O’Clock Apron is written by mother, chef and food blogger Claire Thomson and it is a beautiful book for families of all ages, whether your gang is less than a metre tall or looming over you.
Subtitled “Proper Food for Modern Families”, the cookbook is beautifully set out, and clear to use. The contents page lists main ingredients in each section, and the recipes themselves are clearly set out. A cook in a hurry will be able to see ingredients clearly listed, method clearly numbered and often a photograph that sets the recipe in context.
At this point I have to declare the truth that I haven’t actually made anything from the book yet. It came six months ago, and then got buried under a pile of books that I only shifted on Wednesday. But today is Friday, and I go shopping for the weekend, and I wil be buying some ingredients for recipes in the book to brighten up the weekend.
Perhaps a whole roast chicken for Sunday lunch, or baked pasta with potato and mountains of cheese. I have a hankering for soda bread, and here is a 5 ingredient version I can bake for lunch tomorrow and it will make me feel safe, abundantly cared for and grounded, as good cooking and baking always does.
But the real stars of the book are the glimpses into family life that we see. Claire has an Instagram page that is 70 to 80% pictures of food, but occasionally she posts a family picture, and it’s so cute because it puts her food and cooking into a context. It grounds you, completely.
Can I have red shoes like the little girl in the photograph? There’s just something about red shoes that makes my heart sing….. and, of course, they are timeless. This book reminds me a lot of one of my favourite cookbooks from when the children were small. I just used to browse Apples for Jam just for the pictures when I needed to be reminded why I was staying home. It’s not always available at the moment, which I think is a real shame, because it was like a basic primer for cooking for a family.
I couldn’t find a blog for Claire: judging from the shots around the house, I’d love to see more of their home and their way of life. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook, though, so that’s good.
The Five O’Clock Apron is available in hardback and Kindle version currently from Amazon or any other reputable book seller.
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