English Country Cookbook has Mass Appeal

I am reviewing books through the Blogging for Books program in an effort to support my community’s Little Free Library, thus the addition of book reviews outside of the usual sexual health topics to Your Sexy Librarian postings. After being reviewed, the book gets stamped “Always a Gift, Never for Sale” and placed into a Little Free Library for others to enjoy.

I was thrilled to finally review a cookbook. I grew up surrounded by cookbooks and have a deep appreciation for beautiful cookbooks with photographs of every dish that provide clear directions as well. The Cottage Kitchen: Cozy Cooking in the English Countryside by Marte Marie Forsberg is a masterful cookbooks that did not disappoint.

Forsberg, born and raised in Norway, learned to cook from her mother. She traveled the world, learning new cooking techniques along the way, before she settled in the English countryside. Forsberg began her blog, The Cottage Kitchen, in order to chronicle her new countryside life. This is Forsberg’s stunning debut cookbook.

The Cottage Kitchen includes an introduction telling Forsberg’s traveling and cooking journey. It is well-written and full of beautiful details. The cookbook is broken down into seasons, includes an introduction section for each season along with a list of recipes for each season. Forsberg focuses on using quality ingredients (some will be difficult to find outside of American metropolitan areas) and provides both metric and American measurements in her recipes, which takes the guesswork out of converting metric measurements.

The photographs of each dish vary in setting and style; not every dish was depicted on the same table using the same dishes and place settings. There are photographs of Forsberg and Mr. Whiskey, her English Porter, sprinkled throughout The Cottage Kitchen, which gives the book a quant, down-home feeling.

What I like best about The Cottage Kitchen is that Forsberg blends in the recipes of her native Norway, such as Norwegian Sweet Rice Cream Porridge with Cinnamon, with the recipes from the English countryside and that Forsberg explains each and every recipe’s significance.

For example, Forsberg shares that the Norwegian Sweet Rice Cream Porridge is a traditional dish served for lunch on Christmas Eve, and often for dinner throughout the rest of the year. The person who finds the single blanched almond in the porridge on Christmas Eve wins a marzipan pig. I thought it delightful that what I grew up calling “rice pudding” is what Forsberg’s native country calls “rice cream porridge,” which gives my American dish a more elegant European feel.

The cover of The Cottage Kitchen is simple. The two hands separating eggs could be anyone’s mother or grandmother, which allows readers to imagine the possibilities more than if Forsberg’s face had been on the cover instead. The layout and fonts used in The Cottage Kitchen are both gorgeous. The back cover is a beautiful departure from the usual heaps of praise located there as it is just a photo of Forsberg picking windfall apples with the lone sentence, “Share in a gorgeous, thoughtful life in the English countryside with irresistible recipes and captivating stories.” I agree with this assessment.

At $35 for hardback, The Cottage Kitchen is a lovely gift choice this holiday season and beyond.  Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


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