Ever been asked to single out one favourite book, the one you want above all others? As in, if you were marooned on a desert island with only one book, which one would you want it to be? Well, recently I was faced with such a challenge (minus the desert island) in the cookbook department. For me, the choice was easy. Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion. No hesitation, a no-brainer. There isn’t a book in my kitchen that even comes close in terms of daily usage,whether I am following recipes slavishly, working out what goes with what, or looking for inspiration for what to do with seasonal produce.
Stephanie Alexander is a great cook. This restauranteur, chef and passionate advocate for changing our food culture from the ground up has picked up another accolade this week, being announced the Victorian of the Year.
The award was presented in recognition of her work with the Kitchen Garden Foundation. From its early beginnings at Collingwood College in Melbourne in 2001, the whole idea of the foundation is to encourage children to eat healthily. The program currently operates in nearly 140 schools across Australia and allows primary students to build their vegetable garden, harvest vegetables and prepare meals created from their produce.
To get a handle on her thinking, and to really understand how to put the growing and cooking of your own produce into practice, you need to read Kitchen Garden Companion. From there, it is one easy step to Kitchen Garden Cooking for Kids which consists of 120 recipes that eight year olds can make, along side everything they need to know about growing those precious food stuffs.
Alexander recently won awards at the Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) and International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Cookbook Awards for Kitchen Garden Companion. The book was also shortlisted for the 2010 Le Cordon Bleu World Food Media Awards.