"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a farm and live entirely surrounded by cows–and china." Charles Dickens

February 4, 2011

A Cookbook to be Excited About!

I admit it. I often get excited about cookbooks––new or old. But this one just screamed "buy me" and as I had been very good on Amazon for a very long while (except for Christmas gifts), I decided to purchase this one as a little cottage-warming present to myself. Even though I have yet to prepare anything from it, I am not disappointed.

I have this fantasy that one day we will rent a cottage on a farm in the Irish countryside and that I might attend some courses at Darina Allen's famed Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork. [Rachel Allen is Darina Allen's daughter-in-law and also teaches at the school.] My husband has Irish ancestry––and has been to Ireland many times. I lived in England for a year as a college student, and also on a high school exchange program, and can't believe I didn't get to Ireland!
"This transporting book ... will delight anyone who wants to connect with such endangered domestic tasks as churning butter, foraging, and making homemade apple cider. Allen is an astounding teacher, and her enthusiasm for good things and old-fashioned thriftiness is impossible to resist. She shares stories, recipes, tips, and techniques that will inspire you to craft all sorts of staples that these days usually come in packages from the grocery store. Once you taste your own vinegar and bread and cheese, and get into the swing of making them, chances are, you won't go back to the modern way." Fine Cooking, March 2010 

This cookbook covers so many things that I've thought about making or will want to make now that we are raising our own meats, with many eggs to use and an abundance of fresh items in summer months. There is a significant section on seafood, lamb, beef, pork, eggs, dairy, produce, fruits and baked goods. I found this book, initially, when trying to find a good soda bread recipe the other day. While there are portions of the books I won't be able to use in central Kentucky, most of it will be a regular resource. There are recipes for salting and curing meats, making sausage and preserving fruits. Also, a chapter on foraging for salad greens, berries and mushrooms, even seaweed! Allen is a big advocate of using local produce or what is grown, or raised, on or around your own farm. It is also a lovely compendium of great food writing and beautiful color photography.

A little armchair-travel-cookery-schooling can never hurt, either. The textbook-like cover is sturdy (it's a whopping 600 pages!). At anywhere from $26-40, depending on where you buy it, it's a lot cheaper than flying to Ireland and spending $13,000 on a 12-week cookery course. Well, at least that's how I justified another cookbook for my collection.

You come back when you're ready!



  1. Cathrine...I recently bought this book and love, love, love it!! I plan to do a review next month for St Paddy's day. I am so glad to have added this one to my collection and will use it often I am sure. Be sure to check out Darina's YouTubes...I can listen to that sweet irish brog all day long :)


  2. looks like a sturdy book indeed. keeping it simple...back to basics....I would also love to go to Ireland one day....thank you for sharing the book..

  3. It looks wonderful. It really doesn't take much for this girl to justify a new cookbook, but I am truly trying to cut back. Please let us know if it is a necessity:)

  4. I love cookbooks and recently got rid of most of my collection (I think you got a couple of them) but I am sorely tempted to get this one. Why did you do this to me?


  5. Oh...this is so tempting. My cookbook cupboard overfloweth though. Yikes! I'd have to get rid of something to acquire another. Oh dear. I hope you write a review when you've had a chance to read and savor.


Welcome to the farm! I hope you feel free to comment and share here. I will respond as often as I can.