Author: Sophie Hansen
Hachette RRP $35
Review: Monique Mulligan

local-is-lovelyReviewing cookbooks is a lot of fun for me because I love cooking; where possible, I try to attempt at least one of the recipes in each cookbook. Sophie Hansen’s cookbook, Local is Lovely, probably fueled the cooking binge I went on last weekend (fresh pasta, meatballs, paleo choc chip balls, granola and salted caramel popcorn fudge), because it appealed to the way I love to cook. As I scanned it over a home-made cappuccino (thanks, Blue Eyes), I wanted to grab my apron and get cooking immediately, but tiredness won the day.

Sophie Hansen lives on a farm and has a deep admiration for those who work so hard to produce food. In Local is Lovely, she combines recipes with interviews, anecdotes and tips from food producers, which adds another dimension to this book. The passion they have for what they do, despite the challenges and days they just want to chuck it all in, is infectious. I’m no farmer, but Blue Eyes has created a lovely vegetable patch out in our suburban backyard (it has replaced a pool) complete with fruit trees and herb garden; we’re still learning, but there is such joy in bringing in our own produce and eating it. I was devastated when fruit flies got to the last of our nectarines after holding them at bay, but they did not get our mangoes! You can guess that Local in Lovely hit the spot for me.

Local in Lovely is full of deliciously simple recipes – wholesome food that you’d expect in a country kitchen. It’s about getting the best from the produce, rather than making it look fancy. The layout is simple but eye-catching, and the recipes are easy to follow. Fittingly, the book is divided into seasons, showcasing the best produce in each given season, although this will vary across the country. It is aimed at the Australian market (the title is a give away), but I still think there’s something in there for those living outside Australia – the insight into the Australian food scene, and, of course, the recipes. As an Australian, it’s great to see the growing number of Australian cookbooks on the market, each one highlighting the wonderful produce we have and reflecting the diverse eating styles on offer.

I have bookmarked quite a few to try, including:

  • Gena’s Florentines
  • Tajarin pasta
  • Apricot and vanilla jam
  • Bacon and nectarine salad
  • Lesley Russell’s big scones
  • Danish apple cake

However, looking through the book again, I’m hard-pressed to find a recipe I wouldn’t try in this book. If you enjoy local, fresh produce and don’t want recipes that turn you into a kitchen slave, Local is Lovely is worth a look. I have a lot of cookbooks, but this one is going to become a staple for me.

Bookish treat: When I saw the recipe for Hansen’s honey granola, I had to make it. It’s so tasty! Hachette Australia kindly provided me the recipe extract, so you can make it, too.

Preparing to make Sophie Hansen’s honey granola from her Local is Lovely.

I make this recipe at least once a week. The kids take little bags of it to school for morning tea, I have it over yogurt for breakfast and we all seem to grab handfuls of it during the day. It is quite rich but absolutely delicious and very more-ish. You can also use this granola as a crumble topping – just cook the fruit on its own and sprinkle it with the granola before serving.

Makes about 7 cups
Prep: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

  • 5 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup sesame seeds
  • ½ cup almonds (or any other nut), roughly chopped 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • pinch of salt
  • 50 ml sunflower oil
  • ¾ cup honey
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup dried fruit or ½ cup chocolate chips (optional)
  • chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 140°C. Combine the oats, coconut, sunflower and sesame seeds, almonds, spices and salt in a large bowl. Place the oil, honey and sugar in a small saucepan over a medium heat and stir until combined. Set aside to cool for a moment, then stir in the vanilla. Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well, ensuring that all ingredients are well incorporated. Spread across one large or two small trays and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the granola is golden brown. Turn the muesli around every 20 minutes or so to ensure that one side of the tray doesn’t cook faster and burn. Cool completely before stirring through any optional extras, then store in an airtight container.



Monique Mulligan

Monique Mulligan

One Response

  1. Sounds like a great book. We don’t have much room for growing things but do have a grow wall which is fun to experiment with and there are local markets from which we try to buy most of our produce so I’m going to search this book out for inspiration.

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