Today for Healthy Eating Week, Jo from KCIL reviews two recipe books that help to make cooking a bit easier. This includes a cookbook with cake recipes, as a treat every now and then, does not go amiss.
Good Food for Bad Days – Jack Monroe
Getting into the kitchen when you’re feeling low can be a struggle, leading you to reach for the snack food instead. Jack Monroe’s Good Food for Bad Days is a collection of simple and inexpensive recipes that make eating well just that little easier.
The book opens with some simple advice on some good foods to try and eat more of and why, for example, bananas for tryptophan which converts to the happy hormone serotonin.
Jack also talks about handy things to keep in your kitchen, such as stock cubes, frozen fruit, and pot noodles. The latter is one of Jack’s legendary tips; the combination of Bombay pot noodle, peanut butter and frozen mixed veg is highly recommended. Jack also suggests equipment such as getting a bullet blender from a supermarket and a vegetable dicer such as OXO Good Grips, which is good for less mobile hands.
The recipes are divided into chapters on mug food (and drinks), pot food (think handy spreads to have in the fridge), finger food, breakfast & brunch, 15 minutes or less, one pan, take your time, in the oven and sweet stuff. The recipes are simple and well explained, with no off-putting page long ingredient lists. Some of the recipes do require a blender, which I know can be a big help in making cooking accessible. Personally, I always find the extra step of fishing the blender out of the cupboard and finding all the bits a bit off-putting, but everyone has their own bugbears and often, it’s about experimenting and finding what works for you.
I gave the Sausage, Squash and Apple Traybake a try. It’s a straightforward recipe that requires minimum chopping if you stick to frozen vegetables. I managed to find frozen pre-chopped butternut squash and apples, so the only thing I had to chop was the onion. The onion had to be cut into segments, which is easier than the usual thin slices of onion many recipes require. I also used vegetarian sausages, which I was a bit concerned about how they would cook, but they worked out well. It was one of those lovely recipes where you just bung everything into a baking tray, give it a quick mix and then sit back whilst the oven does all the work. The result was absolutely lovely.
Good Food for Bad Days is currently selling at a reasonable price at several different online retailers; you can also borrow the e-book version from Kingston Libraries.
Breaking Eggs – Ruby Tandoh
Breaking Eggs is a cookbook with a difference from Ruby Tandoh; it’s available principally as a short audiobook, but there is also an e-book version. Narrated by Ruby herself (who you may remember from Great British Bake Off years ago), it aims to be a friendly accompaniment in the kitchen as you bake. Ruby talks you through each step of the recipe, allowing you plenty of time to do each bit (and there is always the pause button). Ruby entertains you with geekily interesting food facts about the ingredients you’re using as you stir and mix. Ruby’s instructions are excellent for complete beginners and good for more experienced bakers too, who may have been out of the kitchen for a while. I know I certainly appreciated it when I was stirring the mixture, and it started to look like it was curdling. Ruby’s calm voice piped up and saying, “now it may look like it’s starting to curdle at this point, but don’t worry”. I also appreciated Ruby’s encouragement to be mindful while cooking, thinking about smell, texture and how your body is feeling as you cook.
I tried out the first recipe in the book, ‘Easy Butter Cake’ (there’s also Rye Apple Galette, Vanilla Custard Buns and Miso Brownies). The recipe was, as the title suggests, easy, but also really satisfying to make. The ingredient list is short, and you can choose to use an electric mixer or not; it’s up to you. The resulting cake is gorgeous, light, fluffy, buttery and vanilla-ry.
The Breaking Eggs audiobook and e-book can both be found at a reasonable price on Amazon. There’s nothing in the e-book that isn’t in the audiobook, so depending on what version suits you best, you’re unlikely to need both.