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Family Cookbook

Reviews of family cookbooks with sample recipes to read:

Family Cookbook

A Family Cookbook is an essential for any kitchen. These comprehensive volumes have a wide range of traditional British recipes ranging from soups, cakes, main courses and puddings. Many of the modern ones have international meals and special dietary suggestions such as low fat and vegetarian dishes.

One of our most valuable wedding presents, over 25 years ago, was one. It was a brilliant present since we'd never cooked for ourselves before. It started with a guide to common home kitchen equipment, the ingredients and how to prepare different foods and simple recipes. Later chapters detailed more complex dishes with its easy to follow instructions. Sadly the original fell apart so many of our favourites are now in our scrapbook along with others we've enjoyed making over the years.

The Drummer Boy

The Drummer Boy is my latest novel about the ghost of a Gordon Highlander Drummer Boy from the Battle of Waterloo who haunts a modern day army nurse.

Chapters take place in modern day Aberdeen, at the Noose & Monkey bar and restaurant as well as His Majestyís Theatre and Garthdee. Other scenes take place at Tidworth and during the Napoleonic War.

Read the first three chapters for free on most devices.

The Pantry Cookbook

Published in 2012, The Pantry Cookbook is a quick and easy guide for those making dishes for others or just themselves. Author Michelle Clay guides the reader from the basics around the kitchen through to preparing food from scratch. She begins with an introduction to healthy eating and why cooking meals and snacks from scratch at home are better for the reader. Her focus is on easy and quick recipes using readily available ingredients and cheaper ingredients to provide wholesome, healthy and filling meals. Examples are the Mushroom and Barley Soup Recipe with an alternative for beef and mushroom soup.

It is ideal for the beginner home cook, such as a student, or those who recently find themselves cooking for others. Michelle begins with basics such as peeling and preparing vegetables; the types of cooking such as sautťing pan or stir frying, baking, on the griddle and broiling. She then moves onto the types of basic equipment needed in the home kitchen.

One important chapter describes hygiene around the kitchen before moving onto describe safety such as cooking temperatures for various foods such as poultry and fish.

It then moves onto a suggested week meal plan and budget with grocery list, directions and serving suggestions. Useful advice such as how to store and reheat leftovers to help stretch the household budget in these tough economic times. Other money saving advice is how to prepare and store homemade food for babies.

Read the homemade meatloaf.

More tips and hints follow throughout such as tips and hints for cooking for toddlers and fussy eaters. Examples are using cookie cutters with your child to make fun sandwich shapes and getting your child to help prepare food such as pizza bread or tuna burgers. It can often be a challenge to get a child to eat vegetables and Michelle Clay suggests many ways to add vegetables to food so that they are disguised for the most fussy of eaters. One such example is adding veg like parsnip, cauliflower or onion as filler to her chicken nuggets. The other advantages of this is that they freeze and reheat well making for quick to cook and nutritious food in which the home-cook controls the filling.

Other money saving ideas throughout includes adding more fibre to help people feel full up for longer and making your own snacks such as oatmeal cookies.

Breakfast include bread pudding and pumpkin French toast. An example can be read on the Eggy Bread Recipe page.

Mains such as pot roast and corned beef boiled dinner whilst the quick section has enchiladas, chilli, tacos, quesadilla, chicken bean stew, beef stew, beef stroganoff, ratatouille and Swedish meatballs.

Salads, greens, salsas and marinades are leafy green salad, coleslaw and antipasti.

Pasta dishes are fettuccine alfredo and quick one pot pasta.

Sauces and gravies with how to make gravy, enchilada sauce, cheese sauce and curry sauce from scratch.

Treats of how to make homemade energy bars, cinnamon toast, hot chocolate, pumpkin pies and banana bread.

It is an American volume which gives us traditional US delights such as mac-n-cheese. The UK reader benefits from the Thanksgiving turkey dinner section with some great ideas that can be used for Christmas Day. Favourites are homemade stuffing and homemade cranberry sauce by adapting Michelleís berry sauce.

Packed full of advice and over 130 meals, it would make a welcome addition to any kitchen, but would especially suit the new home cook. The author has generously licensed it under a Creative Commons Attribute so that non-profit organisations can publish and sell books to support hunger and nutrition issues. Learn more at pantrycookbook.blogspot.com

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Little Old Lady Recipes

One of the best published recently is from America and easily purchased at the UK Amazon shop. Little Old Lady Recipes collects home cooking treats from mums, grandmothers and great grandmothers who have been cooking for their families and friends for years. The author, the well-known food writer Meg Favreau, collects these whilst interlacing them with amusing anecdotes and thrifty tips. With photographer Michael E. Reali they have taken a unique way to illustrate this by capturing the enthusiasm of their contributors for their food, tucking into their favourites or relaxing at home. This works ever so well, making turning each page a joy. It is all about home cooking and having photos of the head of the household is a clever way of illustrating.

They have few ingredients, using wholesome food and the instructions are so quick and easy to follow, usually only having three or four stages of cooking. There is nothing fancy here, simply tasty, filling and nutritious foods.

There are many benefits to having an American family recipe cookbook in your home. The main advantage is the wide range of traditional US meals that this brings to your kitchen, some of which you may not have thought to serve. Examples are buttermilk biscuits topped with fried eggs, jellied Waldorf salad, candied nuts, pork chops Hawaiian, rhubarb pie and lemon meringue pie.

The little quotes from the grandmothers are worth the price alone, some of our favourites:

Cheap food will taste expensive if you know what to do with it. Mary, housewife 72 on the soup stock page.

Always leave people wanting more. Thatís a basic rule of sales, and itís why I always wore long skirts. Molly, principalís assistant, 84 on the cucumber tea sandwiches page.

Club soda is a wonderful thing. You can use it to remove any stain, or mix it with gin and drink until you donít care about the stain anymore. Chastity, deli clerk, 72 on the gimlets recipe.

Little Old Ladies is conveniently divided into chapters with those for breakfast, soup, salad, casseroles, appetizers and refreshments, suppers, side dishes and sweets.

Examples are homemade meatloaf, frosted cinnamon rolls, grits, borscht, chicken noodle soup, chili con carne, pigs in a blanket, goulash, pot roast, spaghetti sauce, corn bread, jellyroll, apple pie and pumpkin pie.

It was first published in 2011 by Quirk Books Philadelphia and makes a great present for Christmas or for those setting up their first home. It would equally bring joy to the most seasoned of cooks looking to add to his or her collection.

If you need a gift idea for the cook in your life then visit the Christmas page for ideas:

Christmas Cookbooks

Mums Know Best: The Hairy Bikers' Family Cookbook

Mums Know Best: The Hairy Bikers' Family Cookbook brings together many of the traditional family recipes from the UK and also international ones. Si King and Dave Myers, The Hairy Bikers', recognise that mum knows best and organised a series of fairs around Britain to gather some of the best.

So there are over 100 simple meals, Sunday roasts, Sunday dinners and much more from grandmothers, mums and daughters, with many of them being handed down through the generations, tweaked and updated for the modern palate. Chapters gather ideas for the nation's favourite drinks. Dishes include roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, toad in the hole, best ever roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese, chilli con carne, mince and dumplings, steak and ale pie,
cottage pie with cheesy mash, steak and kidney pudding spotted dick, rum babas, bread and butter pudding, crumpets and lemon drizzle cake. As readers journey through it they encounter more complex dishes, made so easy by Si King and Dave Myers, such as whole poached salmon, coronation chicken, meat and potato pie, spaghetti alla carbonara, chicken curry, baked Alaska and even how to make your own piccalilli and tomato chutney. Vegetarian dishes are a filling mushroom risotto.

It recognizes the multicultural kitchen of modern day Britain with contributions from community groups including some delicious looking delights from Estonia such as cheese kringel, Romanian pretzels, Ghanaian guinea fowl with red chilli and yam balls and Portuguese green bean soup. Nepalese dishes from the Gurkhas are mutton curry with sauce, curried potatoes and sesame chutney, Chinese sweet and sour pork Hong Kong style come from the Chinese older people's group in Oxford, the African Caribbean community groups provided Si and Dave with a chicken and vegetable stir fry and the famous British Woman's Institute WI recipes are scones and mustard mash. American dishes of Texas cornbread, Southern cornbread, pork BBQ ribs and Boston baked beans, buttermilk pie and key lime pie.

Some have not only added their much loved meal but also modern or ethnic twists. So for example beside the traditional rice pudding there is a Portuguese and a Balinese alternative.

Regional dishes from around Britain are also in this and are pan haggerty from the North East of England, Welsh griddle cakes and Manchester tart.

There are some wonderful photos of Si King and Dave Myers in the kitchen having fun and enjoying their food and friendship. There are also some charming photographs of the contributing nans, mothers and daughters whose family meals appear in the book.

There are pictures of most of the food along with ingredients and easy to follow instructions for cooking. We love the Hairy Bikers' cook books for many reasons and especially their friendly way of writing making them ever so easy to follow. We also adore their little snippets above each one with personal thoughts, memories and hints and tips - though you may wish to brush over their tip for crimping minced meat plate pie - using mum's false teeth!

They are quick and easy to prepare and bake which is good news for busy families and the ingredients won't break the bank account. It's such a pleasure to read t hroughout or just to flick through looking for inspiration for a meal. Sections are broken down to favourites, show off food, good simple uppers, birthday treats, Sunday dinners and picnics. Within the birthday treats section there are those for very special chocolate mousse trio and sausage plait whilst the picnic food section has variations of the scotch egg and also a black pudding or smoked haddock filling, sticky ginger and soy chicken wings, courgette fritters, victoria sandwich, game pie, hot chicken salad, Maryland chicken and sticky date cake.

Mums Know Best was first published in 2010 by Weidenfeld and Nicolson with photography by Cristian Barnett. It is a must for any kitchen.

For one which has a modern twist based on Scottish food read the Eating In page.

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