Regular readers may recall my unbridled enthusiasm on learning about Ballymaloe and its cookery school in Ireland a little over a week ago. I used to indulge in purchasing cookbooks regularly, but several years ago I concluded that I had more than enough and needed to appreciate what I have. Darina Allen’s cookbook from Ballymaloe was irresistible, though, and I ordered it. It arrived a few days ago, and I’m convinced it is worth every penny I paid ($26.40).First off, this book is huge. It really has about 600 large pages with color photos and 700 recipes. And if you, like me, got into cookbooks in the past three or four decades (let’s call it the Moosewood years for those of us who embraced the granola life at one time or another!), then Forgotten Skills of Cooking: The Time-Honored Ways are the Best – Over 700 Recipes Show You Why will have old-fashioned recipes that will add to your repertoire and help you get back to basics. No doubt you’ll meet my versions of some of these recipes over the months to come, but for tonight I just want to highlight a few that intrigued me.
Among my favorite things about the book are that it is frugal. I’ve always thought that you should be able to use the pods from English peas, somehow. You can. They taste good, but the texture is the problem. Puree them into a soup. Strain them to get out the strings. Eat. Enjoy.
Speaking about peas, folk traditions are another of my favorite things about the book. You may recall my recent discovery of pea tendrils. Do you know what people in Ireland call the pea tendrils? Wizard’s whiskers!
And how about traditional foods that are just hard to find? Ms. Allen has a recipe for ginger beer, one of my all-time favorite beverages. It looks a little time-consuming but not difficult.
I can’t see myself pulling a Julie and Julia and cooking my way through the book page by page, but I know I’ll be reaching for it regularly in the months to come. I like too that it gets me back to my family roots in Ireland and Scotland. The food sounds comforting to me as if it is tugging on my ancestral memories. I know the whole family will enjoy it.