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Jenny Bristow Cooks for the Seasons: Autumn and Winter

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by Jenny Bristow

At first glance I did wonder if this was yet another cookery book to sit on the shelf along with all the other old favourites that get taken down once in a while. A few spare minutes and a cup of coffee with this little square book sitting comfortably in the hand, and my senses were immediately enlivened. I was instantly drawn into a feast of gorgeously illustrated autumn and winter fare. I was hooked, such rich colourful displays of fascinating textures, glistening golds, rustic reds, and burnished browns. Thick liquid glazes that caught the light. Here was an array of mouth-watering recipes to tempt the taste buds. I could almost smell the spicy aromas of hot cider, cinnamon, roasted nuts and toffee wafting from a cosy kitchen.

This is a compact book that has simple and easy to follow instructions on wipe clean paper. Each recipe is layer out on a single page with a clear illustration opposite. The small print is arranged with plenty of white space and can be seen clearly. This seems to me to be important when breaking off from mixing and preparing in the kitchen, to check for the next procedure. It contains plenty of tantalizing dishes, with a hint of traditional good grub. When the dark nights draw in, and the autumn smells from the woodlands are sensed and it feels like its time for the lighting of the bonfire. What could be better than a warm welcome in from the damp chill of the night with Jenny's tempting treats and hot spiced drinks.

I feel once the salad days are over Jenny's warm and nourishing recipes could be used interspersed with one's own basic winter cooking. This book contains a small selection of dishes ranging through from hot soups, snacks and starters, with more robust meat and fish dishes. Also a few homely biscuits and muffins that could be served with afternoon tea or hot chocolate. Along with some basic puddings and sumptuous tempting desserts.

As someone who enjoys food and yet still needs the excuse like entertaining or making a good impression on the family to get me skimming through the cookery books, I still wonder how long this one will lie gathering dust. I guess the answer is: use it or it gets forgotten. For those on a busy out at work schedule, perhaps leave until the weekend or for those celebration occasions. This is not a book for instant meals - rather good quality food that could be presented all "dolled up" for guests or served plain for the family on a more daily basis. It would make a useful Christmas gift, and it's a good buy if you fancy playing at being the perfect host for fireside suppers, whether eaten in cocktail attire or snuggled up in jeans and sweater. I love the ability to quickly flick through this colourful book of a few basis recipes to take us from the darkening days of the later part of the year through into the coming New Year. It really does remind us of the feeling of warmth and security, fireside and crackling wood. Evoking tastes and smells that may remind us of childhood days, in any case of days gone by. A book with a basis collection of recipes to titillate all the senses. Enjoy.


Jenny Bristow Cooks for the Seasons:...

ISBN 0 85640 724 0 
Published by Blackstaff Press, 2002
120pp, illustrated
Retail price 11.99

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Review by Barbara Osborne