Around the Kitchen Table is both a celebration of home life, and a collaboration between generations from mother (Annie Herron) and daughter (Sophie Hansen).
Just the notion of a kitchen table collaboration conjures up the sweet smells of cooking or baking and an opportunity to take time from the busy world to create something for the home.
Sophie is the cook and it is her belief that there is almost no kitchen appliance that can replace the hands. Meanwhile, her mother Annie demonstrates simple and joyful art works to also create by hand. Taken together, this is a great book for anyone who likes to make and do.
I love that the book is arranged seasonally. Of course, I’m reading this (again) as we approach the shortest day and the seasonal rhyme: The days get longer the cold gets stronger has been whirring in my brain since mention was made of the shortest day early this morning. Hansen and Herron celebrate the seasons and - as with each season’s chapter – Winter is heralded by a fabulous photograph; this time of a snowy scene that makes you want to walk right into and begin hurling snowballs. On the page facing is a jaunty painted gingham strip, along with eight colour blocks to suggest a winter palette. On the following double page, illustrated with Herron’s delightful paintings are things to love about winter. Think citrus, preserves, woollies, soup, curling up with a good book, open fires, steaming sweet puddings and using up summer preserves. It’s a joyful and painterly way to remind us how each season can enrich us if we have the right mindset. And for those reading with an eye for the recipes, Hansen delivers by starting out with a winter picnic for a freezing day. Here, think potato, chard and cheese pie; quick chard-stalk pickle; and triple ginger crunch washed down with a spiced coffee. And then it’s Herron’s turn again as she shows how to sketch en plein air a charming winter scene quaffing a thermos of spiced coffee.
Other recipes in this chapter include some delicious tin fillers; while other crafty projects include making collage using tones. And if you’re anything like me you will love this reminder of monochromatic days when tone on tone stretches from the sea to the sky. Additionally, readers will be keen to make a sourdough starter and enjoy some slow-cooked dinners. It’s all about the immersion and enjoyment of the season. And there is plenty more inspiration to come as spring, summer and autumn approach. This is a charming, useful and inspiring book for homebodies.
Reviewer: Peta Stavelli
Allen and Unwin