I want my dining room to look like this all the time!
My regular readers probably know by now, I am a huge fan of Martha Stewart. When I am in my kitchen in the middle of a foodie crisis I often ask, “What would Martha do?”
She can now even help me if I ever have a big celebration at my home thanks to her massive book Martha’s Entertaining: A Year of Celebrations published by Random House Canada.
Because Martha’s new book is more of a pictorial than a cookbook, and I want to make more videos in general, I did a video review which you can watch here. BTW, my apologies for screwing up the title of the book. There is a reason why I will always be a writer first!
The Food Photography
For those of you who prefer written reviews… I loved this book! It took me away to Martha-land and even though there were moments of extreme envy and potential jealousy, I fell in love with the food photography and the beautiful life she leads.
I was absolutely seduced by the food photography, especially. Oh to have cutlery and dishes not bought at thrift and dollar stores! The photographer even made eggs topped with caviar look like something I want to eat and… I don’t. This book is stunning.
For me, it is also complete fiction. Little girls in pretty dresses searching for Easter eggs on a lavish property… Who lives this life? I sure didn’t as a kid but wow, the idea of doing so is quite beautiful.
Yes, it is hard not to be envious at this world I know nothing about but silly me, I still have hopes of throwing lavish parties in my dining room with stunning antique plates and a staff to help me.
Still, if times are hard and you instinctually cringe at the sight of the financially successful, this may not be the book for you. I struggled with that myself but in the end, I gave in. I want to believe this life will be available to me. If not, I can eat like it is!
Martha’s Apple Pie & Blueberry Jam Tartlets
Consistently, Martha’s baking recipes are fantastic. I have learned my lesson too, to always follow her directions without question. Drives me crazy but Martha is almost always right.
Focaccia & Chocolate Chip Cookies
I must be clear, Martha’s Entertaining: A Year of Celebrations is not a cookbook. Although I found a lot of recipes to make from it, this is a lavish pictorial first. You get a ton of stunning photographs and go through a year, season to season, with Martha. It is just as much about tableware as it is about food.
When it comes to the text, Martha’s signature food writing style is evident, clear and a comfort:
“Meringes are miraculous… They can be snow white, creamy, flavored with coconut or chocolate or raspberry, or just touched with a hint of vanilla bean.”
It actually got quite frustrating to figure out where to go to find the recipe to the dish illustrated in the book. There are no page references, even in the back where you will find the recipes. I find that kind of unforgivable. I really see no reason why they choose to do so other than drive a foodie like me crazy.
As you can tell, I mostly recipe tested her baked goods because they are always fabulous. Dinner recipes were more challenging. How often am I going to come across pheasant to make a potpie with? I had never even heard of the fish daurade before!
There were accessible recipes too though. I made celery root puree which was delicious but what vegetable cooked in cream is going to taste bad? The twice baked potato with broccoli was OK and packed with butter. As usual, Martha’s cooking recipes were fine but for me, lacked excitement. I just find them too simple and full of fat.
This is a HUGE beautiful book that took my breath away. Partly because it is so bloody heavy to lift but also because it contains a world I would love to live in. One filled with pretty dishes, edible flowers, pieces like “faux bois” tables and events like a picnic at sea on Martha’s Hinckley Picnic Boat. A picnic boat! I kid you not.
So who would love this book? Someone like me. A foodie dreamer who wants to get lost in the beauty and lavishness of it all. Although I may not be able to furnish my home the way Martha does, I can make beautiful food and eat fabulously like she does.
If you want a cookbook, do not care about photographs or the story behind the dish, this is not the book for you. It is cumbersome to cook from because of its size and weight, finding the recipes for the photo you like is very challenging and if you have a jealous bone in your body you might end up hating Martha for the life she lives.
For me, she gives me hope. Yes, perhaps it is just a delusion but I don’t care. I want to live like this one day. With copper pots on the walls of my giant kitchen and me making a croquembouche at Christmas for all my foodie friends. If you are like me and adore Martha, I give this book four and a half out of five wooden spoons. For the Martha fan, I can think of no other better gift.
Thank you Random House Canada for sending me your last promo copy! It is an unending source of inspiration, in so many ways.
Lovely video and written review Suzie, you’re awesome!
I’m going to get a copy of this book from the library. I totally adore her and love the momentary getaways I experience when reading her books and magazines. Oh to live her life…sigh.
I often turn to her for my baking inspiration as well, yup very buttery but you need that once in awhile. We always say “leave it to Martha” after biting into her heavenly cookies, brownies and pies because they never disappoint.
Suzie Ridler says
Oh thank you Ava! That means the world to me. 🙂
Yes, totally check it out of the library and see what you think. It’s like the best parts of her magazine in a colossal book. I definitely prefer her baking recipes and there were quite a few in the book. She rocks!
peppylady (Dora) says
I’m limited what I can and can’t do one computer. The area I live in pretty much is in the dark ages with technology. We’re still on dial up and seen other who live out in the stick try modern technology but I’m not impress with it.
I to like Martha one thing I feel anyone can follow her style doesn’t matter what there domestic level is.
Little girls in pretty dresses searching for Easter eggs on a lavish property… Who lives this life?
I sure didn’t grow up that way…I grew up in blue collar middle class income. My dad worked for the railroad and was member of the teamster union.
The only thing my mom and I had matching dress because she was a wiz on the sewing machine.
Coffee is on.
I just put this book on hold and noticed she has yet ANOTHER cookbook on the way! She’s a madwoman, I don’t how she does it lol….It’s called “Martha’s American Food.” It’s on order at the library, since I put a hold on it now, I’ll be one of the first to get my hands on it when it does come in. Can’t wait!
I bought the book because I am a MS lover. I collect her books and magazines. Glad I bought it.
Suzie Ridler says
Dora, I totally understand which is why I wrote out the review as well as did the video. Thank you for letting me know.
It’s true, Martha does make everything feel accessible to everyone, it’s a gift she has.
I sure don’t know who lives that life, especially as a child. My mom sewed her own clothes for a long time. How cool she made matching dresses for you!
Ava, OMG, another book?! I don’t know how she does it either, I can’t keep up! Nicely done to think in advance Ava.
Helene, oh yes, this book is perfect for you! 🙂