Thursday, 16 October 2014

#BPBR no. 3 - Apron Strings

'Apron Strings', by Nessa Robins, published in 2013

My first Irish cookbook and one of my favourites. Nessa is a fellow blogger, who is one of the first people really that made me feel like I could actually give this food blogging lark a go! A few years back I first saw Nessa at a food demo at Totally Tipp and she has a lovely way about her and an ease with which she lovingly prepares her food. She is passionate about fresh, seasonal and Irish ingredients and sources much of her own herbs, fruit and vegetables at home in her own garden. This was a cookbook I was dying to snatch up as soon as it hit the shelves and I am a big fan, as I am of her great family food focused blog - Nessa's Family Kitchen.
'Apron Strings' by Nessa Robins
1. The photos in 'Apron Strings' are stunning and mouthwatering and all taken by Nessa herself, barring a few taken by her husband, which are mostly of the lady herself! The photos as much document all the lovely recipes in her book as they do her family life and the enjoyment they all gain from family time and good food together. Nessa has a real skill with close up shots and from the Caramel & Hazelnut Shortbread Squares, to the Lemon Mascarpone Berry Tart, to the Roast Tomato & Garlic Soup, you are bound to find yourself salivating while flicking through these glorious images. One of my favourite photos is on page 193, where you see three of Nessa's little ones enjoying the outdoors and her little miss is tucking in to all the delicious picnic treats laid out for their eating pleasure.

2. I really love Nessa's writing. From just reading through her introduction, her honesty about the task ahead in attempting to write her own book, really engages and draws in the reader. She includes a great many useful and different sections in the book from tips for the smooth running of a household to oven conversion charts (a life saver at times!), to advice for children's parties, to healthy tips for expectant and new mothers, to an introduction to keeping hens. Nessa also notes how for any regular home baker, having your own hens for fresh eggs is a real money saver. I am yet to put that tip into practice! Nessa is a qualified nurse and though she no longer works as a nurse, she has an excellent Home Nurse chapter, with lots of simple remedies for a variety of common ailments and lots of healthy drinks and beverages choices too for when you might be under the weather.

3. There is so much I like about 'Apron Strings'. A few recipes I have tried and really enjoyed are her delicious and super simple Rise & Shine Granola, her Chocolate Orange Biscuit Cake (which I have adapted in different ways myself and which is always obliterated in minutes!), her Tomato, Basil and Feta salad and her Roasted Pepper & Lemon Couscous (both amazing in summertime, and her Chicken in a Herby White Wine Sauce, which is a dinner party winner. There are so many other recipes I have ear-marked to try as well. I suppose what is so lovely too is that 'Apron Strings' reminds me of an 'Enquire Within' of sorts, which was a book I used to peer through with great interest as a child and teenager. It also reminds me of a contemporary Home Economics book, but in the best kind of way. You just know it is a book you will want to treasure and keep close to the kitchen and close at hand as a go-to reference. I also love the feel of the book - bizarre, perhaps. But it has those matte textured pages and a lovely strong hardback cover and when you open out a recipe, the book stays open for you. Odd I will admit, but to me that gets a thumbs up too!

4. As I'm sure you've guessed, there is little or nothing I dislike about this cookbook. All I could say would be some readers may find a little too much time spent on the extra bits and bobs outside of recipes, such as those I referred to in number 2. However, I believe these elements really add to the overall sense of the book and mirror Nessa's family centred approach taken in her food blog.
Score for 3 & 4 = 9

5. In conclusion, 'Apron Strings' is a truly great cookbook and one I will mind, use and cherish for many years to come.
Overall score = 19/20 or 95%

That's an A1 for Nessa and the first A1 #BPBR!

1 comment:

  1. FYI I see Apron Strings is currently half price on the New Island website! (Oct. 2014)