I am not your average home cook. And, it’s not just because I’m an enthusiastic cookbook and recipe cook but I find much joy from cooking. Which isn’t to say that I know what to cook 100% of the time or that I feel like cooking every meal — I get in ruts just like everyone else. However, having conversations with other home cooks I’ve come to realize that home cooking is a chore that many people try to avoid. Either they feel “too busy” or daunted by the act of cooking. Some of us love the idea of eating fresh and local but feel overwhelmed at the farmers market because it’s not always as simple as buying stuff and cooking it. Meal planning is an option but that takes work — sifting through cookbooks or websites to compile recipes and make a grocery list. Mealtime can be a complicated prospect, but I think this is where Anca Toderic and Christine Lucaciu‘s new book The Huckle & Goose Cookbook will help alleviate stress and encourage you to cook more often.
Why Huckle & Goose? What inspired Toderic and Lucaciu is the idea that eating with the rhythm of the seasons helps to nourish our bodies and create a sense of gratitude and wellbeing. Thankful to Mother Nature for the beautiful offerings each season at the market and how that seasonal connection affects our minds and bodies. From this inspiration Toderic and Lucaciu created a meal-planning service that removes the guesswork from cooking beautiful and delicious (not to mention simple) seasonal dishes. The Huckle & Goose Cookbook offers sixteen weeks of recipes that are designed to get you cooking at least 3 times a week.
The first section of the cookbook The 7 Elements is about the “general areas that affect our well-being and contribute to our attitudes about cooking.” These elements are: Mindset Creates Momentum, Notice Nature, Home is a Haven, Be Together, Plan Priorities, Whistle While You Cook, and Rhythm and Routine. Toderic and Lucaciu explore these elements and what you can do to support them because it’s these elements that will help you to cultivate home cooking as a habit (this is where rhythm and routine become essential!). In the second part they focus on how our kitchen habits will help to keep us cooking. It’s in this section where the authors help to set up and define the ways in which meal planning can work in a positive way so that you can save money, fill your fridge with ingredients you’ll want to cook with, and give your cooking direction and purpose. The third section focuses on the recipes, which are seasonally divided and incorporated into one of their 16 weekly meal plans (4 plans for each season, leaving you room to try the plans and then mix and match the recipes to come up with your own weekly meal plan).
Since this cookbook is focusing on how to enjoy the best of eating seasonally while making cooking at home an attainable goal for people the book isn’t focused on any particular diet. The recipes in the book follow a typical omnivore diet, I found that there were many recipes that suited cooking for my vegetarian family. Eating locally and in season means that sourcing ingredients is much easier and cost-effective. I was able to find all the ingredients at my local grocery store and farmer’s market. The resulting meals were delicious and easy to prepare.
I found that their breakfast recipes worked very well for our “breakfast for dinner” lifestyle — the Soft-Boiled Eggs w/ Herb Butter Toast Dips, Almond Blender Pancakes, Warrior Three-Egg Omelet, and The Dilly Dally (homemade Tzatziki, Zucchini Fritters, roasted tomatoes and eggs) — were all recipes that we enjoyed at dinnertime. Maybe it’s because breakfast always seems more relaxed and casual it feels great to have those feelings at 5 o’clock! I also found that the myriad ways in which Toderic and Lucaciu cook eggs helped me to get out of my scramble eggs rut (and, it also reminded me that all those egg cups we’ve collected could be enjoyed and put to good use).
I really appreciate that the recipes are well-tested and tasty. There’s nothing more discouraging to a home cook than a recipe you worked hard to make that doesn’t turn out or deliver on flavour. At times Toderic and Lucaciu’s recipes rely on classic parings — lime-coconut or lemon-poppyseed — and other times you’re trying combinations you’ve never had but have become an instant favourite, like blackberry-lavender. I found myself really enjoying their baking recipes — Huckle’s Multigrain Harvest Muffins, Bakeshop Blackberry-Lavender Scones, Corndoodle Cookies (for the ice cream sammies), and the Coconut Lime Loaf. Everything I’ve baked from The Huckle & Goose Cookbook has been delicious! Their approach to seasonality in their cooking also extends to baking — finding sweeter, wholesome ways to enjoy seasonal eating.
One recipe that can be a tricky one to develop is vegetarian burgers, which can lack in texture, flavour, or both. What I find is that many recipes result in dry patties but their recipe for the Actual Garden Burger with Herbs, White Beans, and Peas is delicious, moist, and so colourful! I think that the addition of the juicy green peas and fresh herbs help to balance out the dry texture of the beans and breadcrumbs. Served on a bun with their Pickled Jalapeno Schmear they make for a lovely BBQ offering or a casual weeknight dinner (a hot tip from my husband — also serve these burgers with a generous heap of caramelized onions).
Anca Toderic and Christine Lucaciu offer practical (and delicious!) ways in which to encourage home cooking in The Huckle & Goose Cookbook. Developing and strengthening good kitchen habits allows you to actual enjoy the process of cooking and, with their 16 simple and seasonal weekly menu plans you’ll be able to make the most out of your weekly market trips. Visit my dedicated Facebook post or my custom Instagram hashtag #huckleandgooseiseatworthy for more tasty offerings from this wonderful book!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Harper Wave / Harper Collins Publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book. I did not receive monetary compensation for my post, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.