Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The River Cottage Family Coookbook

A friend from Brooklyn sent me this cookbook, and I LOVE it! I love the pictures, I love that the recipes call for heaping teaspoons of things, I love that kids can cook and learn from it and I can, too. The only problem is it makes me want to live in a rambling country house through which animals walk and outside of which I'd have a kitchen garden. My hands would be red and my nails ragged, my cheeks ruddy, my hair frizzy, and my Christmas dinner would be all about brussel sprout gratin and Yorkshire pudding. It doesn't mater that I don't celebrate Christmas, I'd know what to do with suet! That's what I love about a good cookbook. It creates a world that's completely unto itself, with its own rules and obligations and wherein it's perfectly reasonable for a child to gut a fish.

Can't you see it? There's Trevor with the fish knife and I'm in the kitchen shaping my bread dough into a loaf for its second rising. Georgie, Trevor's sister, is feeding the rabbits, the baby is napping and my husband is off somewhere doing husbandly things while the sheets dry in the good strong spring breeze.

Now, I'm off to clean up the play dough and pack the bags of Puffins for snack. The apples are peeled, the strawberries sliced and there's nothing left to do but wait for the TV show to end, dress the children and slather them in sunscreen. Is there a cookbook in this life?

6 comments:

roni said...

River Cottage is a FANTASTIC cookbook. I agree that it's a bit, um, otherworldly. I have never made blackberry wine (and doubtful I ever will).

The author also wrote a cookbook/polemic called MEAT and it's one of my food bibles. Some may be offended or horrified of the photos of animal husbandry, but they're included to force us to examine our relationship with meat. The cassoulet recipe is the best I've ever used.

http://www.amazon.com/River-Cottage-Meat-Book/dp/1580088430/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1212540706&sr=1-1

Robin Aronson said...

I was thinking of getting the meat book! I read the article in the New Yorker about the author and the whole conscious meat movement. I think that was the New Yorker. I know I should look at those pictures, but I don't know if I can. I think it's easier to limit how much meat I eat and focus on smaller portions of protein in general. Not for Skinny reasons, but for planetary ones.

roni said...

Jamie Oliver's latest, "Jamie's Italy," also includes pictures of animals being slaughtered by local villagers. My husband and I rarely eat more than a pound of meat per week combined. And as part of the conscious meat philosophy, we eat parts that are normally discarded(salmon collars, chicken livers, etc.) And this is no guilt-ridden punishment, either. We're just discovering what other cultures have known for a long time--that an animal gave its life to feed us, and the best way to honor that animal is to not let any of it go to waste. And grilled salmon collars are delicious.

Robin Aronson said...

Jane Grigson's classic cookbook English Food (http://www.amazon.com/English-Food-Jane-Grigson/dp/0140273247/ref=pd_bbs_sr_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1212604229&sr=8-4) has a long section on the demise of butchery and the lose of innards in cooking. I think your point is well taken and well applied to fish, as well. A few years ago Melissa contributed recipes to a Marion Burros piece on fish safety and in doing so used less popular fish (the only example I can come up with is mackerel) -- which is to say I think it's worth stepping off the beaten path with protein because what we might find there could be full of delicious surprises -- and when we shop, cook, and eat consciously and conscientiously I really believe we're acting in the most human way possible. That said, I don't know what my son would do without Applegate farm hot dogs. Or hot dogs period. It's a strange thing.....

ceridwen said...

My Welsh and Australian parents actually live this life (in an admittedly geriatric fashion). The sheets dry in the wind, food comes from the kitchen garden, animals (ok MICE and the occasional deadly Australian snake) wander in and out, ants gather round the jam jar and in the distance you can hear the sound of my father shooting a garden-destroying bunny with his rifle. I'm getting this book for them. And considering inviting you to come with me next time I go down under.

Robin Aronson said...

You see, this is what's amazing about NY, that we can live two blocks apart and also worlds away. That's AMAZING about your parents, and something i kind of guessed but completely romanticized. Invite me and I just may come, but I don't know if I can shoot a bunny, even a garden destroying one.