Well after a week of making sure that we have tea’oclock every single day… I have to say I was very glad to have this book on my pile of books for review. Actually I think our entire family was thrilled that we had this book for review. Recipes from a Normal Mum by Holly Bell turned out to be the perfect recipe book to have at hand…
This is a real cook book about real food that real families eat… A recipe a page, with a fabulous photograph – so you have a fairly good idea about what you should be aiming for. I have to say that at first glance the were not recipes in my repertoire and I did have a “gosh” where do I start moment. But every recipe we tried, we enjoyed so much that we went back and tried them again. So over the last couple of weeks a fair number of the recipes in this book became part of our standard recipe collection.
This book is fantastic for mom who want their kids to be involved and creating in the kitchen… almost all the recipes were kid friendly. And every recipe here was made by a child asking, “Can I make this?” To which I always have to reply, “Galactic, yes!!!” Anytime someone wants to learn how to cook something I am happy to comply, as see it as insurance for plenty of fine meals in my old age… I mother can hope!!! This is not the book for someone who wants to get their kids to eat more greens and only eat organically grown, hand crushed grains… This is a book packed with fun useful recipes… everyone needs to know how to dash out a batch of delicious muffins for tea, or whip up a fantastic chocolate cake – these, I feel, are life skills that will set my kids up for wen they launch themselves into the world.
One thing we battled with, but in the world of internet-ness it wasn’t actually a problem, is that systems of measurements changed from recipe to recipe… it’s not a problem with the book, but rather our less than stellar math capabilities. Some measurements were in teaspoons and tablespoons, some were in grams and then some recipes cried out for “oz.” thats ounces to us metric folk. Not a bad thing to learn to conquer when you are baking… but it is unusual for a recipe book to have every kind of measuring method available to use within its pages.
Recipes We Tried and Tested
- Greek Inspired Meatballs: Meatballs – for sure, and since we started making our own pita breads we have been eating them fairly often. This recipe was a gentle reminder to feed my family the food they love… Meatballs dropped into a pita bread are right up there with the favourites…
- Mini-Sticky Sausage Kebabs: Here is something that was so totally delicious that it blew us away and totally and utterly easy for a child to create and put together… these are chipolatas and red peppers on toothpicks with the easiest of marinades poured over them. Totally delicious and gone in a flash.
- St.Clements Breakfast Swirls: We make cinnamon breakfast buns all the time… but these ones with a citrusy twist were a first for us and really delicious… There is a person in our house who has spent years perfecting the art of zesting – this recipe was created for him. There is another young person in our house that would never dream of eating actual fruit first thing in the morning… I noticed he had no problem with these for breakfast!!!
- Syrupy Vanilla Muffins: Oh my, these are fairly life-changing… there are people in our house who have never ever shown any interest in something that looks like a muffin before. Well these have become our “whip you up in a couple of minutes” treat.” We don’t normally have syrup on our shopping list, but it may just have become an essential requirement.
- Easy as” Cheese Biscuits: I simply adore little cheesy biscuits like these, and they are perfect for little hands to sit and stamp out by the dozen… a super quick recipe and hours of creating and the rewards of munching them up afterwards. everybody is winning with these!!!
- Baby Bear Claw Sausage Rolls Your Way: Sausage rolls are so easy to make and look so impressive as the pastry puffs up… there is kind of everything to love about this comfort food… and then add some little snips to your sausage rolls and call them baby bear claws and little people are wolfing them down and begging to make them again for lunch the next day…
- Sticky Little Fingers Chocolate Bar Cake: This recipe turned out to be a little bit of a game changer for us because this is the first cake that our family raved about and suddenly my quickest cake in the world was not our instant family favourite anymore. Turns out it is wonderful buttery icing that was making all the difference – and I can breathe a sigh of relief… because this is the icing they are after on everything. A good solid chocolate cake recipe can take you far in life… but fabulous icing can cover up a multitude of minor baking errors. Basically this recipe is a life-skill that I am happy for our kids to practice.
- ’99 Ice Cream Cakes: I have to say when we received the book to review this is the one recipe that everyone wanted to try… and I have to say that it looked somewhat fiddly and I wasn’t that keen. Often what looks really fabulous in a photograph is far from fabulous in real life. But in the name of cook book reviewing I was prepared to give it a try. I was right… it was galactically messy, it is impossible to keep the cones all standing upright as you move them from the table to the oven and their was sever spillage and not a little chaos. But the fun factor made it totally worth it… Hood #8 had some friends over and they were quite committed to this entire event… and once your cupcakes are baked they are pretty much ready for little hands to finish off themselves… they selected their sweeties and held out their cones for a topping of icing. The photograph n the book was a lovely little collection of perfect cones… we could not get our cones to stand upright… there is a little ridge along the seam of our flat bottomed cones and they simply fall over. But little hands were happy to help, and the incredibly fun factor, and the once in a very long while of a treat like this, made it really worth the messy fun.
And the se7en + 1th recipe…
Anyhow, the book is written by Holly Bell, a mom of three boys and finalist in the Great British Bake-off… her website is packed with more of the same sort of recipes… lots and lots of things that your children can really do themselves and will enjoy eating. For all the recipes on her blog, you won’t find a lot of overlap with her book – I love that… It is great to have a recipe book packed with original recipes…
The one recipe she does carry over is the recipe for Lemon Butter Biscuits… which we tried of course!!! We never got as far as stringing them together and popping them in a beautiful tin as a gift… but I can see this is a potentially great gift idea for folk who don’t have eight kids and their associated friends waiting at the oven door. in a word… this is a great family cookbook and one that will be spending a lot of time out on our counter, rather than tucked away on a shelf.
We really want to thank PanMacMillan South Africa for providing us with this book for review. We were not paid to write this post and the opinions expressed were entirely our own.