Book Review – Fresh from the Farm: A Year of Recipes and Stories by Susie Middleton.

Fresh from the farm

3 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank The Taunton Press, Inc. for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

Let me start by saying I loved the concept of this book. Definitely agree with fresh from local farm (or home grown) produce and adore cook books that cook within the seasons so only use fresh, whole food ingredients that are available at those times of the year. So, in that respect this book was fantastic. We need more books that run along those lines.

However, sadly, the formatting and layout really let me down. I was thoroughly enjoying Ms Middleton’s story about how she got the farm, the trials of growing, selling and evolving with the farm and I actually found this story being squished into the margins rather distracting. It made me stop paying attention to the actual recipes. Then, the way the recipes were spaced over several pages, and broken up with large (beautiful) but totally unrelated to the recipe pictures – it didn’t work. Really, it made it all seem too cluttered and confusing and put me off the book a little.

For me, this book would have worked better if Ms Middleton’s story took pride of place at the beginning. Set the scene and got the reader knowing more about her and connecting with her ideals. The gorgeous pictures could have been spaced out amongst this work. Then there should have been a second half to the book that focussed solely on the recipes and pictures related just to them. But, that’s just my opinion. 😉 And I will add that my ARC was an electronic version. Possibly, as a paper book these formatting issues wouldn’t be obvious as the reader has the ability to flip from page to page more easily. My electronic version was clunky and very hard to navigate.

I did enjoy this book, but not as much as I’d hoped I would. And none of the recipes had me oohing and aahing and making notes to try them when in season. I don’t think the recipes were bad or boring… I just felt I was too busy enjoying the story to actually stop and pay them the right amount of attention.

Would I recommend this book to others? If they were going to read it just as an ‘in season’ cook book and (if Australian like me) know to swap the months of the year around to suit our local growing times… possibly. If they wanted to read Ms Middleton’s fantastic story and connect with her passion – probably not. The formatting/layout just makes doing that really difficult.

Would I buy this book for myself? Probably not the way it is currently formatted. If it was changed so the book’s layout is story, then recipes – then yes I would probably buy it as I enjoyed the read.

In summary: A fantastic concept, the right sort of mindset we should all be following – buying/growing local and cooking and eating in season. I loved the personal tale that comes with it all too. However, for me, the formatting/ layout let it down.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO


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