I may have mentioned before how much I love my job. My day-to-day is full of variety, from writing blog posts, to developing recipes, to food photography, to running social media workshops and one-to-one coaching, and I never get bored. I love the freedom, the creativity and the feeling of building something that’s entirely my own. But one of the best things about it is the brilliant people that I’ve met and gotten to collaborate with along the way, all doing their own awesome thing and constantly inspiring me with their genius and hard work.
Out of all those people, Beth Al-Rikabi (aka The Free Range Chef) is definitely one of my favourites. Perpetually full of positive energy and always smiling, Beth is an amazing chef, from her regular stalls at local markets, laden with delicious breakfast pots or a lush lunchtime salad bar, to mouth-watering events catering and wedding cakes. You may remember her from this post about a supper club we collaborated on – just thinking about it is making my mouth water as I remember the parmigiana she served up. And now, I’m absolutely delighted to share the fact that she’s released her very first recipe book, Tales From My Happy Place.
|When you’re reviewing a recipe book, tea & snacks are essential|
TFMHP (as I’m going to call it, to save on typing) is a lovely little book packed with sunshine. I do like a recipe book that isn’t just weights, measures and numbered steps – instead, you’ll find the recipes tucked in amongst all sorts of stories, memories, and Beth’s own photographs (as well as plenty of gorgeous ‘official’ pictures by Bristol photographer Matt Inwood). Beth’s descriptive writing makes the places in her memory come alive, from the beaches of Ibiza where she fell in love with Thai Risotto, to the busy souks of Morocco where she found the inspiration (and the dried rose petals) for her Spiced Carrot, Pistachio and Walnut Cake.
|I love the bits & bobs section, which is full of delicious goodies|
Although the line between recipe and reminiscence is a little blurred, the recipes themselves are clear and easy to follow, and sprinkled liberally with handy tips and practical advice. Beth is ferocious about food waste, having worked with FareShare Southwest on several of their different projects to feed those in need with surplus from the food industry, so many of her recipes come with multiple serving suggestions and ideas for using up the leftovers, which is a really nice touch. And there’s a feeling of wholesomeness that runs throughout the whole book – there’s no preaching or sugar-shaming, just a gentle nudge towards plenty of fresh, healthy ingredients and the simple truth that a little of what you fancy does you good.
Although I can’t wait to try the recipes – the parmigiana is in there! Woohoo! – I know this is also a book I’ll read just for its own sake, curled up with a cup of tea, because there’s joy on every page. As Beth writes, simply: “I love feeding people. It makes them happy and creating a positive change in the lives of others makes me happy.” Amen to that.
You can buy Tales From My Happy Place as an ebook for a seriously good price of just £5. Do yourself a favour, though, and also seek this lovely lady out in person, at her supper clubs and pud nights (more info here), at the Bradford on Avon Food Assembly (which is like a market where you can order what you want in advance – genius), and at plenty of markets, including the Frome Independent Market and the Bath Brunch Market.