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?”
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!
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.
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.