Note: The Great British Farmhouse Cookbook by Sarah Mayor can be ordered from Amazon
Published by Quadrille PUBLISHING, April 2013. Photography by Andrew Montgomery
Content just under 100 sweet and savoury recipes of Classic British Farmhouse style dishes including dairy cooking, soups, salads, pies and puddings, breads and preserves.
Author Sarah Mayor is the daughter of Roger and Mary Mead who bought their Yeo Valley farm in 1961. Mayor tells of life growing up on the farm and of being very much hands on in daily tasks, as were her siblings. Mayor acknowledges the expansion of the Yeo Valley business over the next decade or so that followed, and the eventual move into the commercial selling of organic dairy food stuffs, mainly yoghurt. Her appreciation of not just the foresightedness of her father, but her respect for the dairy herd and the work of the growers and producers and for quality, local sourced food, is very honest. Her move to a career in catering and going on to teach cooking to others, derives from her philosophical upbringing and her sense of community, place, and the importance of education and of being at the forefront of changes within this complex industry. In her final paragraph Mayor reveals that many of her favourite recipes feature, and are ones that were inspired by her surroundings, her journey as a cook, and last but not least, her family.
Range of information
Six pages, at the beginning, depict and inform as to the life of a dairy cow down on farms in Somerset and is followed by six pages of DIY dairy cooking with techniques described to make homemade yoghurt, ricotta cheese, and clotted cream to name just three. The main body of the book gives full page dedication to each recipe and provides the usual ‘what you need’ ‘what you do’ type information. Sometimes two recipes share a page. Photographic images balance the textual info. Instructions in numbered bullets, and in some cases an extra tip is provided. At the back of the book recipes are put into categories – page numbers are indicated. The index is arranged in alphabetical order. 10/10
Quality of information
Good, clear instructions, thorough and precise, lots of adverbs used for emphasis. Informal and friendly. Opening paragraphs to each recipe either sets a theme, or a key ingredient gets a mini mention. 9/10
Hardback book is 24.5cm Long x 20.5 cm Wide. Fonts vary in style, size and colour. Small fonts are in bold. Backgrounds are eye catching and visually pleasing. Images in full colour 9/10
Artwork includes illustrative and photographic techniques using computer software and presents a handmade scrapbook of farm and food friendly references. Mostly full page and full colour photography of the dishes, interspersed with nature images including the animals and shots taken down on the farms, in the fields, in the kitchen, and of the farm workers too.10/10
Content’s page leads on to introduction by the author. Followed by black and white pictorial entitled ‘from pasture to pot’, leading on to ‘The DIY Dairy’ section, then The Farmhouse Kitchen; The Veg Garden; The Farmyard; The Pastures; The Woods, Hedgerows, Fields and Streams; and The Fruit Garden. Contains 224 pages. Final page is a Thank you to all who made the book possible and an invitation to visit Wills Barn and other attractions. Details at www.yeovalley.co.uk
Presented in a familiar style and format now widely used makes these kind of colourful and appealing cookbooks a nice addition to the bookshelf. This is also a diary, a keepsake. Mayor has set out to pay tribute to her family and their good work and ethos and she has arrived at a really lovely thing. What sets this book aside from others is the inclusion of farming facts and the extra type of information shared, handy tips here for an aspiring producer of dairy products or cider for example. Delicious traditional, country recipes reflecting contemporary cooking styles.