So as I sit here I’m feeling like I might come out ahead today despite having a really intense and disheartening start to my week. After looking at my blog stats I realize that it’s been a month since my last post (thanks for sticking with me people! No excuses except we went to visit folks & fam “out west” and I guess time just slipped away). I also have had this review sitting in my “drafts” box for a couple of those weeks and instead of getting right to it last night so that I could have it completed and posted I noticed a new theme that looked interesting. When I went to have a peek I accidentally hit the wrong button and I lost everything — and to make matters worse WordPress suggested that “before you change your theme take note of the old one.” Man, I wish I read that before I 86’d my blog. Being the techno-idiot that I am I spent hours guessing and testing themes until I found the right one — Penscratch if you must know — and as luck would have it my old codes were saved and the only casualty was the first draft of this review. I’m pretty excited that I’m reviewing another of Emma Galloway’s cookbooks! The first review I wrote for my blog last November was for her first cookbook My Darling Lemon Thyme: Recipes from My Real Food Kitchen (click here if you’d like to read that review).
What I said last November is true: For anyone who follows Emma’s blog or Instagram, you may be struck by her humble and genuine approach to life and cooking. I really appreciate her ability to connect with her readers. I think that it’s her honest approach to blogging, cooking, and well, everything that keeps me coming back to her posts and recipes. Much like her first book, her second book: A Year in My Real Food Kitchen follows that same approach to gluten-free and plant-based cooking. Although it’s not explicitly labelled a vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free cookbook that’s exactly what it is. Not to poach from my last review but the same sentiments apply to this book: I think the first thing that struck me about her book was the lack of labels – vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian — just real food. This lack of labelling, I think, helps people to just see the delicious recipes between the pages without getting hung up on what diet you need to have. The recipes are adaptable and forgiving. If you want to make your own tomato sauce there’s a recipe for that but if you use store-bought that’s fine too.
Her recipes are just that — delicious. I think I have been putting off this review because I wanted to try a few more recipes before giving an opinion. Even yesterday I got some Pink Grapefruit + Rosemary Popsicles made and into the freezer — I’ll let you guess what I’m having after I post this…anything described as “sweet, sour and herbaceous” and I’m in! So far I’ve tried about 10 recipes (some I’ve made a few times like the Tomato, Eggplant + Buckwheat bake because who doesn’t love a one pot dish?!) If you’d like to check out some of those dishes, along with other recipes I’ve made from her blog and other cookbook: #mydarlinglemonthymese. While I don’t observe a gluten-free diet (neither does my family) I’m always open to trying new recipes regardless of their classification (meat cooking being an exception) and what I like best about Emma’s gluten-free recipes is that they are, how to put it, “incidentally” gluten-free. She uses ingredients that are already (naturally) gluten-free (i.e. rice, quinoa, etc) and minimally processed. So no mixing up your own flour blends. When I made the Beetroot Chocolate Cakes (as doughnuts lol!) I couldn’t get over the airy, moist texture of the finished product. Not dry or gummy like some GF baking can be. I also wager that it could fool any non-GF diner. So, so good! The Flourless Banana, Blueberry +Chocolate Muffins (pictured below) were amazing too. Baked with almond meal and eggs I liked the texture (but I agree with her — they’re best eaten the day they’re baked. Still tasty the next day but they were a bit too moist for my taste. Would have tried freezing them but they didn’t quite last long enough… 😉
Another of the reasons why I love Emma’s approach to cooking is her ability to push home cooks to try new recipes and make things from scratch. If you’ve read my first review, you know what a life-changer making my own tomato sauce was! In this book it was making my own Pickled Beets — which tasted amazing! I suppose with a little patience and love anything is possible (in the kitchen or out).
Another cookbook/blog that I really admire and enjoy is Sarah Britton’s My New Roots (review here) and one of the things that I enjoyed about that cookbook was the organization of recipes by season. It certainly makes sense in terms of cooking with the freshest ingredients that are, well, in season. This is exactly how A Year in My Real Food Kitchen is organized and I find myself looking forward to the recipes in the upcoming seasons. A recipe like the one for Za’atar Roasted Carrot + Chickpeas w/ Radish + Yoghurt (pictured above) was perfect for that warm, sunny summer weekend lunch we enjoyed it on. I can’t tell you the last time I ate radish but now I can tell you there’s nothing better than buying and enjoying them in season.
Without over-selling this book to you I can honestly say that both of her books sit on my kitchen counter and I use them all of the time! I’m in the process of beginning to make my own kefir water (recipe for that is in her first book) — just waiting on the mail. I’m hoping that those nylon colanders are in today’s delivery! Below is a photo of a “care package” I put together for a friend who can’t eat gluten. When she was at home with sick kids, I hoped it would brighten her day. It’s nice to make recipes that are delicious and inclusive.