We have a new cookbook love. The River Cottage Family Cookbook has quickly become a family favorite around here. Those of you across the pond are likely much more familiar with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and River Cottage than we are stateside. Just last winter, having coffee at a friends farm, I discovered the River Cottage Meat Book and couldn't peel my eyes from it - with the photography, the style, the recipes, and the overall message of food and our connection to it.
I was thrilled to hear of the release of a family-style cookbook this summer by the same author (joined on this project by Fizz Carr). At nearly 500 pages full, it's chock full of family, farm and foodie goodness. I think what I like most about this book is that it's more of a whole lifestyle book, rather than just exclusively recipes. The recipes are so great. But there are some really great basics, too - solid and clear instructions for making all the dairy basics - cheese, butter, yogurt. And bread, too (lots of great bread instruction). Intermingled through the recipes are projects, too. For example? Starting a Garden. Making Your Own Salt. Hosting a Pancake Race. Awesome. We need to have a pancake race.
We've tried out a lot of the recipes in the past few months since the book's arrival. One has already been committed to memory - I make the "Fragrant Rice" at least once a week now, the recipe is so perfect. (Okay, confession: The fried onion and cabbage? Not so much. Maybe cabbage is a regionally acquired taste, though? Do tell, because it's one of the only foods I can't get anyone in this house to eat!) This week, I remembered to photograph these recipes-in-progress. Summer Fruit Tart and Pick-Your-Own-Minestrone. Both equally delicious, and almost entirely kid-made.
I think our kids were pretty involved with our family meal preparation before, but this book - it's words and images combined - have fueled an even greater participation. One piece of advice in the book about involving the kids is to 'take it outside'. So simple, and yet it wasn't something we were in the habit of doing. So, I've been sending the boys out with a cutting board and the evening's vegetables to cut. I have less mess to worry about on the floor, and somehow by nature of being outside - it becomes louder, more boisterous, and more playful of a process. It's become such a habit now for them to be involved in this part of the meal, that I'm sure it will carry back inside with us as the season changes, and there will be lots more exploring of the recipes and projects in these pages.