Cookbook Review: Love & Food At Gran’s Table

Bright lattice picnic chairs surround a wobbly afternoon tea table beautifully decorated with real china cups, saucers and plates.  Squealing children play football underneath trees laden with late summer fruit. 

The fluorescent orange plastic ball is suddenly airborne.  It skims the top of Nana’s sponge taking with it the cream which lands squarely in Grandad’s lap. Aghast, his head tips backwards.  His mouth slowly broadens into a huge grin and raucous laughter escapes.  As tears start to roll down his unshaven face, the children release loud gasps of relief.

Laurel Aulick’s sponge recipe entitled, ‘Nana’s Foam Cake’ took me back nearly 40 years to a late summer afternoon under the plum trees in my grandparent’s garden, and kicking that ball. My Nana was the queen of sponges. Sandwiched together with raspberry jam, sometimes simply dusted with icing sugar, other times topped with a thick layer of freshly whipped cream and fresh fruit slices.  Although I must admit despite being a passionate cook, creating the perfect sponge still continues to elude me.

 Nana's Foam Cake -  Laurel Alick (photo by Todd Eyre)

Nana's Foam Cake - Laurel Alick (photo by Todd Eyre)

Love & Food At Gran’s Table captures wonderful memories and treasured recipes of 60 grandmothers from New Zealand and around the world. Generations of grandmothers who have influenced children growing up, encouraging time spent with family and friends. They have instilled in their offspring the importance of giving, receiving and sharing food as the perfect way to bring neighbourhoods and communities together.

This collection of 120 recipes covers both savoury and sweet, along with stories told straight from the heart and peppered with framed portraits that bring real characters to life. Recipes from: smoked ribs, chop suey, mussel fritters and bacon and egg pie to sherry trifle (a Christmas favourite), coconut slice, puftaloons and rhubarb crumble have been collated.  Homemade preserves and chutneys are injected; and one for mustard pickle, perfect for non-ripening green tomatoes.

All four of Natalie Oldfield’s best-selling international cookbooks encapsulate her Gran, Dulcie May Booker’s mantra.

“It is not what you do, but how much love you put into the doing.”

Photographer Todd Eyre captures the essence of each dish and its creator.  From the montage on the unusual half cover-slip to the muted background tones of the recipe images you can imagine yourself sitting in their kitchens.

Natalie Oldfield’s fifth book will touch the hearts and bellies of those with fond memories of precious time spent with their nanas, grandmas and grans. Avid readers of cookbooks will enjoy the contributors’ stories and anecdotes as much as the recipes themselves. With Mother’s Day only a month away, this really is an ideal gift.

Published by PQ Blackwell, Love & Food At Gran’s Table is now available from book shops or can be purchased direct from Natalie Oldfield - Love and Food. RRP $49.95.