Well this review took a lot longer than anticipated. If I’m being honest, my Learn To Cook Challenge has taken a backburner over the last several months – everyday life has just been all-consuming to think about making new recipes. But, alas, I promised a review on the Fraiche Food Full Hearts cookbook and here it is.
If you’re new here, I started the L2C Challenge in 2021 as a way to get me into the habit of cooking different meals and, if I’m being totally honest, as a way to justify my cookbook obsession. You see, I’ve always loved cookbooks. Each time I get one, I go through it from cover to cover and mark up all of the recipes that I want to try but that I likely will never make. So with this challenge, I pick one cookbook per month and make at least one recipe from that book per week. At the end of the month, I give my honest review of the recipes I tried and of the cookbook in general.
In case you’re interested, here are the cookbooks I’ve tried thus far…
Half Baked Harvest Super Simple
If you’re like me, you have probably heard of Jillian Harris and her cousin Tori Wesszer on social media. I, personally, am a fan of both of their Instagram pages. So a few years ago, when they started sharing the journey of the making of this cookbook on their Instagram stories, I became invested. I knew long before the book was actually released that I would no doubt be getting it. I was a little disappointed when they announced that a lot of their focus was going to be on vegan options, seeing as we are not vegan, but am pleasantly surprised at how they’ve been able to incorporate a vegan alternative for every recipe but not make each recipe vegan per se.
Most of the recipes that I documented below catered to my baking and sweetness cravings but the book is also full of hearty meal options, many of which remain on my to-try list!
Paul’s Bircher Muesli (p. 78)
Super easy to make, delicious and surprisingly filling! I suppose most people have muesli as a breakfast but I’ve actually made this one for myself for lunch quite a few times. I followed the recipe exactly (no substitutions) and wouldn’t change a thing!
Vanilla Cherry Scones (p. 83)
Making scones has been on my baking bucket list for quite some time. Something about them has always sounded intimidating to me but I am here to tell you that there is nothing complicated about these scones! My entire family loves them and for a while these were a staple in our house.
The only substitution that I made was that I used strawberries instead of cherries and that’s just because I tend to have the former more readily on hand.
Sunshine Muffins (p. 86)
The sunshine muffins were another hit at our place. The ones pictured here have walnuts but I’ve made several batches without nuts so that Theo can bring them to school. Everyone loves them (and not once has anyone commented about the zucchini or the carrots – so mom win there!).
These freeze and thaw really well and are so convenient to have on the go.
Garden Bolognese (p. 158)
The Bolognese was probably the one recipe that I was most looking forward to and it was a total bust for us.
The recipe itself seems fine – the problem was very much a user error on my part. This recipe calls for a lot of mushrooms which no one in my household likes (Paolo will eat them but he can take them or leave them whereas the kids and I won’t touch them). In retrospect, I probably should have found a substitute for the mushrooms but I didn’t. Instead, I just didn’t use them. This meant that there was nothing in the recipe to soak up the acidity and sweetness of the tomatoes. Fast forward to us sitting at the table and there were a lot of sour faces as we tried to eat this.
However, since it was my mistake, I can’t actually review this recipe. So use my experience as a lesson but don’t take my word on this recipe.
I guess the one good thing about my procrastination in completing this review is that I actually did make some of these recipes more than once! I also made others (like their fluffy pancakes) that I didn’t photograph and I still have quite a few pages earmarked for the future. So, needless, I give this book a full five stars! The book itself with its neutral linen binding and vibrant photos is beautiful (which is a must if it wants to remain as a permanent fixture in my kitchen). Each chapters offers a full menu for different occasions (Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc.). The recipes are clearly laid out and I like that the recipes are for the everyday diet (each recipe contains substitutes to make it vegan but this is not a vegan cookbook, which I appreciate). Tori and Jillian have already announced the release of their second cookbook (likely not until 2024) and I will definitely be getting that one once it’s out.
Honestly, after some reflection, I am retiring the L2C Challenge for now. When I started this challenge, we were in the midst of building our home and I was on maternity leave and living in a rental. At the time, I wanted a “project” that would push me out of my comfort zone but still serve a purpose for our family – this was it and it was great.
Now, however, I am back at work, we are living in our new home and I have a ton of DIY projects (current and future) to fulfill the creative side in me. Over time, the need to make a different recipe every week became more about fulfilling my commitment to a Blog post and less about the actual purpose of this Challenge. And that’s how I knew that it was time to move on.
That’s not to say that I may not share a cookbook or a recipe every once in a while (especially over on my Instagram stories) but for now the Challenge has ended.