Words by Vicki Ravlich-Horan

“Beautiful, honest and useful” is how Lucy Corry’s cookbook Homecooked is described. This is an interesting description as cookbooks are often one or two of these things but seldom all three. And trust me, a lot of cookbooks cross my desk. Many capture me for an hour or two as I peruse the beautiful pages, but very few find a place on my overcrowded shelves. In fact, they only make it there if they tick that useful box—I’m less and less fussed with the beautiful.

I’m a fan of Lucy’s writing. Her blogs, social media posts and articles in the likes of NZ Herald and NZ Life & Leisure all drip with Lucy’s voice and humour, and Homecooked is no different. On why she wrote the book, Lucy reminds us of the Jetsons cartoon where they imagined we would eat a pill rather than food. “We’re not quite there yet in 2021,” says Lucy, “but it is entirely possible to sustain yourself on food prepared and cooked by other people … In this environment, cooking for yourself is almost counter-cultural; an activity set on the fringes. This bothers me so much that I want to stand up and bang a wooden spoon against a saucepan in protest. In a world where we are chasing mindfulness and connection and ‘wellness’, ordinary home cooking is exactly what we need.”

Divided into the seasons, Homecooked makes heroes of everyday ingredients. Lucy, in her honest way, says on eating in season: “It doesn’t take a genius to work out a late-summer nectarine from the Hawke’s Bay or Central Otago will taste a million times better than one that’s travelled here from the US in September.”

While the emphasis on the seasons means highlighting ways with fresh asparagus in spring and pumpkin in autumn, it also includes the likes of frozen peas in winter. I hate frozen peas but am dying to try the frozen pea brownie recipe. I also love a woman that includes chocolate as a section, and you can’t get a more Kiwi cookbook than one that includes six pages on condensed milk!

Take Lucy’s advice and “let your tastebuds be your guide” and enjoy not only reading this book but cooking from it.

 

Blistered Capsicums with Garlic and Capers

I love the flavour and texture of roasted capsicums, but I lack the crucial patience needed to peel them. This salad is a cheat’s way of getting a very similar result.

SERVES 4–6 AS A SALAD
PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES COOK TIME: 10 MINUTES
⅓ cup olive oil
6 capsicums, red, yellow and orange, cut into 2cm strips
5 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tbsp capers
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Heat the oil in a large, heavy frying pan. Add the capsicum strips and fry over a high heat until they begin to scorch at the edges. Add the garlic and capers and stir-fry for 2 minutes, then add the vinegar. Let it bubble up and evaporate, then remove the pan from the heat.

Transfer to a serving dish, and serve at room temperature.

 

Homecooked by Lucy Corry, published by Penguin Random House, RRP $55

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