Book Review: Gifts From the Kitchen By Annie Rigg

Gifts From The Kitchen by Annie Rigg
Review by Kylie Thompson

Genre: cooking

It’s the time of year when we look around at the mountains of stuff we’ve somehow accumulated over Christmas, and try and figure out what on earth to do with it. Do we need another scented candle? Let alone another dozen of them? Is there really space for another piece of quirky, novelty ephemera?

If, like me, you’ve reached 2016 with the yearly conviction that you’ll stop buying random stuff for people over Christmas, and find a way to make gift giving meaningful again, then the idea of making gifts this year has probably already occurred to you.

For a while now, and especially thanks to some of the lamer pins on Pinterest, homemade gifts have been synonymous with putting googly eyes on beer bottles, and making wreaths out of pipe cleaners. It’s cute for about a second, and then it’s just as impractical as that cat shaped vase Secret Santa re-gifted you.

But the truth is that some homemade gifts are amazing to receive. Think about it: a delicious jar of chutney to be shared when unexpected guests arrive, or biscuits to savour over a coffee and a chat. They’re thoughtful, they’re useful without taking up a lot of space, and they won’t clutter someone’s house for years, gathering dust. Best of all, they save people from baking or buying, at least a little.

Whether you’re a novice or handy in the kitchen, it’s good to have some new recipes to add to the rotation, and Annie Rigg has created a wonderful compilation in Gifts from the Kitchen.

Rigg is getting to be a well-known figure in the UK. A best-selling author, her work as a food stylist and recipe writer has seen her working with a wealth of cooks, chefs, and writers, and contributing to many of England’s most popular cooking and lifestyle magazines.

Gifts from the Kitchen is, as the title suggests, an exploration on the ways we can move away from mundane and generic gift giving, and give homemade and thoughtful gifts that people will enjoy. Rigg’s recipes are simple to follow, and work to use easily accessible ingredients and tools, rather than a myriad of exotic sounding, and oftentimes expensive and hard to find, elements. It’s a great reminder that we don’t need a thousand gadgets to make beautiful food and drinks. The recipes themselves are divided into seasonal categories, with a bonus chapter devoted to specific celebrations.

This is not a Christmas book. It’s not meant to be dragged out on December 1, and thrown back into obscurity before New Year’s Eve. Riggs has given suggestions for events throughout the year, so that when you find out your workplace is doing a Valentine’s morning tea, or that Sue from Accounting is getting married, it’s easy to find something to bring along.

The photography is beautiful; you can’t help but want to try your hand at recreating such lovely looking food and drinks. Pink is clearly someone’s favourite colour- there’s a wealth of pink food and drinks, as well as décor and embellishments. The overabundance of pink embellishments does wear a little thin for me, not to mention clearly genders the book. It’s a shame, because I know quite a few men who love trying new recipes, and this could have made a brilliant present for them.

Though the design features an overabundance of pink, there are recipes in Rigg’s work that everyone will want to try, like hot chilli jelly (or vodka), tortellini, spiced nuts, and tomato chutney. Recipes both sweet and savoury make it easier to find the right gifts for the right person, or to find something new and fun to try for yourself. Gifts From the Kitchen might not be the ideal gift for the men in your life, but it’s a handy reference guide to home-made gift giving, and a great collection of recipes in its own right.

Gifts from the Kitchen is published through Simon and Schuster Australia, and is available through the publisher’s website, and through bookstores nationally.

Rating: 3 stars

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