By Darina Allen
Published by Kyle Cathie
This is a mammoth book, both in size, scope and importance in my collection of cookery books.
Darina Allen is the matriarch of an Irish cooking family who run a famous cookery school which is held in the middle of the family's 100 acre organic farm which provides them with their traditional and wholesome ingredients. She is the author of many books, but this is my favourite.
Growing up in rural Ireland, she has vivid memories of a way of life which is still "hanging on" in the more rural parts of the country, but which is in danger of being forgotten by so many, along with the traditional knowledge of gathering wild foods and preparing them.
So, what is in this book ?
Household tips, simple home remedies, how to keep your own chickens, frugal cookery - especially harvesting wild foods and using them in unusual recipes, particularly shellfish and seaweeds gathered from the coast, cooking wild game as well as the far more traditional recipes ,
The Dairy recipes chapter in particular includes a wealth of information about how to create your own buttermilk, skimming cream from milk, making soured cream, yoghurt, soft cheese, butter and clotted cream. Yum!
The recipes in this comprehensive book are eminently suitable for home cooking as well as entertaining guests, but the main point of the book is to allow cooks to reclaim long-ago knowledge and skills which many have never known or had the good fortune to be exposed to. Although there are many things in this book I would probably never cook, there are still many, many recipes that I do and would use.