The book club cookbook by Louise Gelderblom: reader impression

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The book club cookbook: Eat your words
Louise Gelderblom
Publisher: Quivertree Publications
ISBN: 9781928209904

This reader impression was written and sent to LitNet on the writer's own initiative.

If you love books and are hosting a book club evening where you also want to treat your guests to a culinary feast, look no further than this delightful cookbook by Louise Gelderblom. This “charming collection of recipes” promises “to make your gathering the event of the year”. The idea is that although you do not “kill yourself during the preparations for the evening”, your guests will adore your books and love your food.

Even if you only plan on inviting the “family over for a catch-up or special celebration”, you can, with these delectable recipes, prepare a scrumptious meal “with a bit of planning and without too much fuss”. The secret to a successful evening is “dishes that can be prepared – and often completed – before the guests arrive”. You do not want to stress “about last-minute-this-and-that in the kitchen”. The book club cookbook: Eat your words is all about stress-free, delicious recipes that can be prepared in a jiffy.

Louise Gelderblom, an artist specialising in ceramics, has been a member of Eat Your Words book club for the past two and a half decades. She is a compulsive reader who loves to cook. Her late mom, Martlé Gelderblom, to whom the book is dedicated, “was a fearless cook and voracious reader”. Her two grown-up daughters, Alice and Rose, are both inventive cooks. Gelderblom stays in Cape Town “in a house filled with cats and poodles”.

She thinks of entertaining “as a little show that I put on”. She makes a point of enjoying the preparations and sees it as a “sort of Zen activity”. For her, it is all about the noble ingredients, and she uses fresh produce, extra virgin olive oil, good bread and real dairy ice cream when a recipe asks for it. Her advice is to “taste, taste, taste – and adjust if need be – as you go along”. She often uses “a Wonderbag for cooking stews, soups, grains and legumes”.

Craig Fraser’s colour food photographs present the dishes in a way that not only complements the delicious recipes, but actually makes you itch to try them out yourself. When I saw the recipe for Italian hunter’s chicken on page 112, my stomach growled. I felt like pressing my nose to the photo of the dish on page 113 and inhaling the wonderful aroma I thought would be clinging to the paper. This is really a cookbook that you want to curl up with on the sofa, as it is a visual feast on its own.

The book club cookbook: Eat your words contains the following chapters (examples of recipes given, too):

Snacks: Devilled eggs, parmesan paprika umami biscuits, and bruschetta

Antipasti: Asparagus with a lemony dressing; sweet and sour poached vegetables; and frittata with courgettes, peas, mint and ricotta

Soups and salads: Broccoli and feta soup, red lentil soup, and couscous salads

Mains: Baked chicken and porcini risotto, butternut and sage burnt butter lasagne, and lime and sweet chilli fish parcels

Side dishes: Roasted cauliflower with garlic and capers, green beans with tomato and onion, and Dagny’s super-easy no-knead bread

Desserts: Melktert, baked chocolate pudding, and pavlova

The commentaries of various longstanding members of different book clubs make this book very special. They expertly dole out tips and advice on how to have successful book club meetings. In some instances, the host provides the main dish and the members take it in turns to do snacks and puddings. Many support local writers especially, and make a point of buying the print version of a book. Some buy books to keep in a pool; others prefer to buy their own books. I found it very interesting to read their stories. People who love books and food are my kind of people!

The book club cookbook: Eat your words is published by Quivertree Publications. It has 168 pages and is available here and at various other bookstores.

Photos: Quivertree

Louise Viljoen is a freelance reviewer from Jeffreys Bay.

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