• Nicola Zaina

The Natural Cook: Eating the seasons from root to fruit - Tom Hunt

I just love my new recipe book! I love the name, the food philosophy, the recipes and the focus on seasonal foods. I love the layout, the photos, I even love the way it is bond! I also was rather happy with the fact that I brought it at an Exclusive Books sale for R58. I probably would never have found it on the shelves tucked away amongst the rather large selection of recipe books. To be honest I would have been happy to pay the full price, it is such a gem.

This book ticks all the boxes for me by focusing on vegetables and fruits and building meals around them and their availability. Tom Hunt talks my language, about connecting to where our food comes from and cooking with local simple abundant ingredients. He highlights food waste so every recipe has additional options of what you can do with the leftovers.

The most fancy his ingredients get are spelt flour and raw sugar. I love using both of these in my cooking. Spelt flour is usually found as stoneground wholegrain and sometimes organic. It has a delicious wholesome nutty flavour and is lower in gluten than wheat flour so is less likely to make you feel bloated. Raw sugar is also so under-rated, this is how we were meant to have sugar, unrefined with all the nutrients still in it. Usually commercial sugar has all the goodness taken out and the by-product of white sugar is what we know as molasses. if I am baking I use small amounts of raw sugar, because it is unprocessed, natural and tasty.

A lot of the recipes in The Natural Cook focus around fresh whole foods and many of the recipes would be suitable for vegetarians and vegans (with some adaptations). Recipes that do contain meat or fish encourage cheaper cuts of meat and sustainable smaller fish, yes no farmed salmon features, thank goodness. His focus is on eating less meat and choosing pasture raised ethically farmed options.

I was so happy that the first recipe I got to try was using some beautiful fresh beetroot that I got from visiting the Orangezicht Farm last week. Yes I went to the farm and got a bag full of the most delicious vibrant vegetables. The beet leaves where so fresh I was happy that his recipe included using them. I used the lovely plain labneh from Aramoun.

It turned out like the recipe and tasted so good. I couldn't resist making the pickled radish, perfect flavour combination and lovely to have in the fridge. Just last night I made the rather yummy pumpkin muffins, one has to have a comforting treat with this cold weather.

I also brought a copy of the book for my sister-in-law and she was surprised that the boys were happy to eat raw broccoli, barley, radish and lemon preserve salad!

This is a great cookbook to add to your collection especially if you need inspiration around preparing vegetables which I think we all do. Just remember this is a UK book so you need to swop the seasons to fit into our months. A minor inconvenience.

Fresh beetroot and leaves

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