It’s no secret that I love the english countryside and I also love food memoirs and cookbooks. So when I saw Elisabeth Luard’s A Cook’s Year in a Welsh Farmhouse at the library I knew I had to read it. Ok so it’s set in Wales and not England, but from what I read, the welsh countryside is just as charming.
I loved this book. It is divided in twelve chapters, one for each month of the year and each chapter starts with an essay followed by seasonal & very locally sourced recipes. The essays are simply beautiful and offer a very enjoyable look at life in a rural area, a glimpse of the everyday activities on a farm, and lovely family moments with Luard’s grandchildren. I was reading this book at night and it was so nice to be transported, even for a few minutes, to the farmhouse. Whether in the winter months when everything seems to be dormant and yet there’s so much to do, or in the beautiful summer months when nature bursts into colour, scent, life, it was charming. All the chapters were beautifully written, in a very simple and personal manner, because this is the author’s home and this is truly a whole year of her life.
As for the recipes, I was surprised to see how few recipes included meat. This isn’t a bad thing, really, we eat way too much meat, but I thought that living on a farm with sheep shepherds as neighbours would mean meat is on the menu every day. Instead, Luard seems to eat a very simple diet, probably not very different to that of farmers hundreds of years ago when meat was a rare luxury. And she really does stick to local ingredients that are in season, even in the winter months when nature’s offerings are not abundant. I was very impressed. I tried and loved her recipe for an asparagus tian (pictured below), and I also made a note of her recipe for elderflower cordial to be tested next week. There were also many nice looking recipes for jams and preserves, which is why I’ll be borrowing the book from the library again towards the end of the summer.
All in all, I thought this book was really good. I loved being transported to the welsh countryside and reading about how it changes over the seasons. Most of the recipes were family recipes, or traditional of the area and they all promote living in harmony with nature. Simply lovely.