Tag Archives: recipes

“The Colour of Food. A memoir of life, love and dinner” by Anne Else

“The Colour of Food” by Anne Else is one of the most enjoyable books I have read in 2014. Its popularity was indicated by the wait I had until the local Library copy became available to me. I see on the cover of this easy to hold book, that it is already an International EBook bestseller.
I love adopting a comfy reading position, holding a book, turning the pages and referring back and forth amongst the contents with ease and at a pace that suits me.
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From the first chapter I was hooked. I particularly enjoyed reading of Anne’s many and varied experiences of eating food as a child, as a new, young wife struggling to learn the tricks and art of cooking and then how being exposed to different cuisines from around the world her love of food and cooking developed and grew into a passion and a pleasure. The internet now allows her to share her creativity and pleasure with food via her blog:

At times the experiences she describes around love are very intimate and evoke emotions across the spectrum. There were many times as I was reading when I would pause and reflect on my own life and experiences, as signposts in her words touched me or pointed me back to a link in my past.

I follow Anne’s personal blog and her life without her beloved Harvey so some parts of this book already felt familiar. I also have Harvey McQueen’s “This piece of earth” on my bookshelf which meant I already knew of their special love and companionship and some of their enjoyment of food and cooking together. This familiarity certainly enriched my reading of this memoir.

So much social history is detailed in this book and when I look at my late mother’s recipe books which contain many of her mother’s recipes it is obvious that food provides a rich feast of detail on how we live our lives and how life changes. From my own experience I can well remember the advent of Kai Si Ming ( really mince with a stack of sliced cabbage and a packet of chicken noodle soup stirred through it, but a new idea in Mum’s kitchen) and Coleslaw! Cabbage had always been cooked to a very unappetising gooey mass before shredded raw cabbage came into vogue.

So reading this book was a treat, in a way food should be, and it was a surprise when I turned the final page to find the memoir’s end. As all good books do, it left me with questions unanswered and plenty to reflect on especially around what constitutes “women’s work” and our need to be creative, while also using our education, training and skills. I’ve spent time since finishing the memoir considering the many and varied aspects that food and the preparation and serving of it play in our social, emotional and psychological lives.

And like a very good meal this book left me wanting more. For good measure Anne includes 24 recipes to sample, ranging from very simple to exotic, but with her guiding hand all very achievable. And to tempt readers further she has included two lists of books which have inspired her. These include Memoirs and Recipe books.

I’ve already jotted down her “Fresh Courgette Salad” recipe as I watch the first small courgettes ripen on my plant. Yum!

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“Love at the end of the road” by Rae Roadley

The interesting play on words in this book’s title and the name of the author drew my attention recently in the library.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I found it hard to put down at times.

I love peoples’ stories, how they grow in life, what makes people tick and this all forms a good deal of this book as Rae documents her evolving relationship with Rex.

But there is so much more in this book that held my attention. Rae cleverly intertwines the history of the area in which she lives. The Kaipara is steeped in history both pre- European and since European settlement. Family history abounds and again Rae cleverly links the people she meets and is surrounded by in her life, back to past generations and their lives. The family trees in Appendix one are very useful reference points to assist the reader with the detail and intricate connections Rae writes about.

I’m a “townie”, just as Rae once was, so I found her stories and experiences learning about rural life entertaining, informative and amusing. I think she adapted to the life remarkably well and in ways I would not have done.

But the house she comes to live in with Rex, at the end of the road, is not just a very old, now historic house, which is in a rural location. It also sits on the edge of the Kaipara harbour and alongside the Otamatea River. Naturally there is a wealth of history and activity to be mined from these important waterways, all of which enriched my understanding of an environment very different from anything within my experience.

The book is packed with colourful characters, both human and animal. In typical rural New Zealand fashion there are endless anecdotes around food and a sprinkling of never fail recipes included in the book.

The photography and illustrations provide visual impact and information.

It is a rich, well researched and well referenced read. I came away having learnt a lot about people and how they tick and how lives and ways of living can be so very, very different. Rae’s book has piqued my interest in, one day, visiting this beautiful part of my lovely country.

You can visit Rae’s website here and she blogs as well.

A nourishing broth

According to the weather forecasters we are about to be hit by a large wet, windy and cold weather system coming in off the Tasman Sea.

So far we are doing OK here but I’m sure with snow predicted in the lower parts of the South Island in the next couple of days we will feel the sting of winter cold here.

So the soup pot is called for and here is the recipe I will be using.

Leek and Lentil Soup – source unknown, but discovered many, many years ago by my Mum and shared with me. I make it frequently in the colder months.

A little olive oil
3-4 cloves of garlic
2-3 leeks
3-4 stalks of celery
2 rashers of bacon or some pieces of shaved ham
1 cup of red lentils
1 ¼ litres of water
2 chicken stock cubes or 2 heaped tablespoons of dry chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped parsley

Sauté bacon or ham and chopped garlic in a little oil in a large soup pot over a low heat.

Wash and chop leeks and celery. Add to the pot and sweat. Stir to prevent burning.

Add water, washed red lentils and stock, salt and pepper, parsley. Bring to a boil and then simmer gently, covered for around 30 minutes.

Puree the soup once it is cool and reheat gently when required. Freezes well.

Lentils are grown in the largest quantities in Canada, India, Turkey and USA. They are an excellent source of protein and are easily digested.

I love this illustration of the lentil plant dating back to 1885.

Several people have regained their appetites on this soup after suffering flu or a period of poor health. Bon appetit !!!!!!!!

“Recipes of Life”

Quite recently I heard a piece on the radio about a retirement village in Auckland which was raising funds by selling a recipe book. The purpose of the fund- raising was to ensure that money would be available to take the residents out and about on short trips. They particularly like going out to see houses decorated with Christmas lights in December each year.

However this recipe book was not in the usual style of such community based initiatives. The residents and staff in this village were asked to contribute a favourite recipe and to offer a memory or story pertaining to the recipe.

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I have a special interest in food and recipes in families having made two family history recipe books for my own family. Food and how we produce and cook it, how we then share it together can offer fascinating details across the generations. So this book caught my interest and the cause was a very good one so I sent off my cheque.

The book contains recipes that date back to the 1930’s through to the present day. So that in the accompanying stories the reader hears about the tough times back in the Great depression days when families were often large and the various ways in which parents stretched meagre resources to ensure growing tummies were filled. It is also a very accurate representation of just how multi-cultural our New Zealand population has become in the 21st century.

There are food anecdotes from England and many, many other countries around the world and plenty from New Zealand that I relate to from stories my Mum told. Stories about picking wild blackberries, boiling a billy, cooking on a coal range, selecting veggies from a large and well-tended garden plot, substituting ingredients when others were scarce or unobtainable.

The means of cooking the recipes include: coal ranges through to modern microwaves and traditional umu. Ingredients range from foraged apples from trees growing alongside the road, to exotic spices, Asian sauces and plants, Pacific island fruit and veggies, European dishes, a very sophisticated dessert and current “off the shelf, ready to use” products.

The book is a fascinating journey through time but also into diverse cultures and the myriad of ways people use food to celebrate occasions and to show their love. Many recipes have been handed down from generation to generation and live on with great affection still.

Food is to be enjoyed and shared and this book offers me a wide range of new recipes to experiment with as well as a “feast” as I sit and enjoy the associated wonderful stories.