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As an enormous fan of the River Cottage Family Cookbook, I was of course going to run out and get—I mean click ‘purchase’ on—River Cottage Every Day. So excited was I that Leo and I opened the book as soon as it arrived and plopped on the couch to read it through. Leo quickly got bored and got himself a splashier title to peruse (a cake cookbook, I believe). And I got bored shortly thereafter.
Tabbouleh. Flatbreads. Hummus. Stew. Cauliflower covered in cheese. Macerated strawberries… It took a while before I came to appreciate the exquisite every-dayness of this book. It’s not aspirational, and it’s not full of false promises for amazing, creative meals—the likes of which you’ve never tasted—that can be prepared in minutes flat using nothing but pantry ingredients. It’s simply a refreshingly solid look at a bunch of down-to-earth, affordable raw ingredients that we should all know how to turn into appealing meals. And it’s written by a man, British chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who loves to cook.
In his introduction to River Cottage Every Day, Fearnley-Whittingstall shares his intention to “describe how bread, meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables are dealt with in our house, how we juggle breakfast for three hungry schoolkids, and how we sort out weekday lunches for two working parents.”
I returned to the Every Day breakfast chapter when we ran out of Leo’s morning staple: almond butter. This stuff costs as much as $8 a jar, and it’s pretty much just ground up nuts, so why did it never occur to me to make it? Dunno, but there was Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe, as simple as I could have hoped, and lo—it called for one of Leo’s favorite appliances, the food processor. We whizzed up our nut butter in moments, albeit adding more grapeseed oil than called for, perhaps because our food processor is growing weary of the constant button pushing it copes with (and oh do I know how it feels).
The tasty, sea salted, honey-sweetened almond butter, with a small handful of pecans added by Le Petit Chef, is not only delicious. In its pretty Ball jar in the fridge, it stands as a reminder of the potential of the Every Day.
Zoe Singer is a freelance food writer and cookbook editor and co-author of The Flexitarian Table. Food Editor and blogger for The Faster Times, she tries not to eat for two now that her son is a toddler.