Wednesday, October 04, 2006


The house smells wonderful because I'm making a batch of Nicola's Zesty Flapjacks from the River Cottage Family Cookbook. I thought twice about buying this book, because I don't have any children, don't plan to have any, and indeed, don't see children very often (although I do enjoy their company pretty well when they are around). But I was wise to ante up. For one thing, the book includes the clearest, most sensible recipe for a Victoria spongecake I've ever seen. And for another, it has these flapjacks.

Several British blogfriends of mine have extolled the virtues of flapjacks, initially confusing me because Americans use the word to refer to a type of fluffy pancake. I couldn't picture people tucking into a short stack with maple syrup at the local coffee shop in mid-afternoon (although, come to think of it, I've heard worse ideas). But it turns out British flapjacks are a kind of oatmeal bar cookie.

These particular flapjacks are full of orange and lemon juice and zest. The recipe calls for pine nuts, but I have taken the liberty of substituting our own backyard pecans. I've also switched out the golden syrup (expensive and hard to find here) in favor of tupelo honey. I may sell some of these at the farmer's market this weekend, but that'll mean making a second batch; I couldn't possibly part with so many of these.

In her indispensable book Fine Preserving, Catherine Plagemann writes, "Whenever I get a new cookbook, I consider myself lucky if even one or two new recipes happen to add something permanently to the routine of our lives." This is definitely my way of measuring a cookbook: Has it improved our quality of life?

I think it's safe to say that the new River Cottage book is earning its keep. Mmmmmm.