The Creative Kitchen – Book Review

By Stephanie Hafferty

Published by Permanent Publications. November 2018

*Win a free copy in the prize draw by leaving a comment at the end of the blog. And there’s a discount code for readers.

New reading in the potting shed this week is Stephanie Hafferty’s latest book on seasonal recipes for meals and drinks and making items for the garden and home.

I have to admit, I have a passion for cookery books. Many of my favourites have been handed down through the family. I’ve got Bero baking books from my grandma Betty, which bring back happy memories of delicious cakes. She never ate them herself, but just liked to make everyone smile. All our trips to the seaside- and local beauty spots such as Bradgate Park – would be accompanied by her butterfly fairy cakes. Her trifles were liberally sprinkled with hundreds and thousands. And I bet my brothers remember her home-made toffee apples. It’s amazing our teeth survived, but they did.

When you think about it, many of our strongest memories relate to sitting around a table together, sharing food. All our celebrations, birthdays, anniversaries- and Christmas being the highlight of the year- revolve around food.

With my own family and friends, I’ve tried to carry on the cooking and nurturing tradition. Although, it’s not always easy to get everyone together at the same time. We live such busy lives. When I do manage to corral the family together, I’ll usually make a massive pot of soup, a casserole, a cheese and potato pie, a vegetable lasagne, or similar. And for afters, there’s nearly always something involving apples- we have them in store all winter, and they’re free.

My cooking revolves around what I’m growing. And this is where Stephanie’s new book comes in handy; all the recipes are seasonally based. So they are relevant to what I’m growing all year round. I always start with what I’ve got available, rather than choosing a recipe. Stephanie helps by suggesting what I can do with the gluts of the season. I often have that “what-on-earth-am-I-going-to-do-with-all-this-kale” moment. Hearty bean and vegetable soup might be the answer.

I’m very keen on throwing everything in a pan together and just leaving it to cook. It gives me more time to garden- and chat. My two favourite pastimes! Stephanie must have written this book specially for me. Her Bean Stew with Red Wine is simple to make, fabulously tasty, and looks pretty too.

Alongside the main meals, soups and salads, there’s recipes for store cupboard ingredients such as flavoured salts, vinegars, herb mixes, and infused sugars. I’m definitely going to try making mint sugar. Imagine adding it to hot chocolate. Such a treat on a freezing cold day.

I’ve been thinking about what to do about vegetable stock powers since my favourite brand decided to add palm oil to its ingredients. There will be no palm oil in my house. Apart from not trusting the “ethically sourced” statement, we do not want or need palm oil. Only if we reject it will the rainforests be saved. I am just one person, but it seems the message is getting stronger. People are picking up packets of food and reading the labels and realising that palm oil has insidiously crept into so many food and household products. Anyway, now I can make my own stock powers with Stephanie’s recipes for wild herb, mushroom and tomato bouillon. And there’s a fruit bouillon for adding to yoghurts, cakes and biscuits. Such a clever idea, and easily do-able.

I’ve had a go at making herb teas, but never tried gin or brandy recipes. Stephanie’s Rhubarb and Sweet Cicely Gin sounds- and looks glorious. And wouldn’t it make a fabulous present for someone.

Sugar Plum Brandy looks equally divine. Apparently, this makes a lovely after dinner liqueur as well as a cocktail base. I’d probably add it to fruit cakes as well.

You wouldn’t think you could fit so many good ideas into one book, but Stephanie seems to have thought of everything. I particularly love her Gardeners’ Hand Scrub, Floral Bath Bombs, and Herb Candles. I’m going to be busy for the next few weeks, trying all the recipes and making presents for friends. And I’m going to enjoy every single minute of it.

Stephanie’s book is paperback and £19.95 from There’s a discount code for blog readers purchasing from the shop which is BRAMBLE. Apply the code in the discount section at checkout to obtain the book for £16. Postage is extra. The book is also available via Amazon here . There’s one copy available in the prize draw. Names will be randomly selected. Publisher’s decision is final. There’s no cash alternative. Worldwide delivery, for a change. Usually it’s UK only. Nice to have an international prize.

Meanwhile, the view from the potting shed is sunny today. As well as reading, I’ll be deciding what to grow next year, and Stephanie’s book will come in handy while I’m making my seed lists. What books are you enjoying at the moment? What are you planning to grow on your plots for 2019? Get in touch and let me know.

67 thoughts on “The Creative Kitchen – Book Review

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    • Thank you Anne. That book is being dipped into daily at the moment. It’s rare that I want to make every recipe in a book, but this one is proving invaluable and I’m slowly working my way through it. Its success is down to it being in tune with my life and what I care about. I’m feeding my family and friends with the things that I grow, and trying to make the best of my small plot. Thanks again for reading my blog. Keep in touch.


  5. Mmmm, I like your potting shed!

    There is so much health, for us and especially for nature, in cooking what is seasonal. And local, of course! I like how what you write shows your appreciation for the wonder of growing your own food. And it seems that Stephanie’s book goes pretty much in the same direction. I have a book-ban right now, but… that one is on my Xmas list!

    Looking forward to Monday… and grateful to have found this blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That book looks right up my “garden” street ….. I can’t wait to see it …. when I win haha …. lovely article and blog I have just discovered …. I love to take adults and children outside to grow, create, cook, forage …. but sometimes a new inspiration to life re energises us all …… lovely read x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Sharon, and welcome to the blog! Thanks for reading and getting in touch, and good luck in the draw. The discount codes is good. I’ve just heard that price includes postage. Enjoy your weekend 😊 x


  7. I’ve usually hibernated from October onwards, but since going no dig and buying Charles Dowding ‘How to Grow Winter Vegetables’ I’ve discovered how nice it can be pottering around my winter garden and finding lots to harvest. Like you I have very old cookery books from long-gone and missed relatives and reading the recipes always transports me back to my childhood. It would be nice to think that Steph’s lovely book will become a family heirloom in many homes.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh I really want this book! I was hoping that the publishers might send me a copy for review but I’m already reviewing The Vegan Cook and Gardener for them. I already use lots of garden ingredients in my kitchen (you might remember my rhubarb gin earlier this year? although never thought of adding sweet cicely which I have lots of!) My home is plastic and chemical free now, I’m just using the last of the ‘eco-friendly’ surface cleaner which is taking ages as I prefer my home made spray with essential oils!
    I would LOVE to win this draw but, if not, will buy Steff’s book anyway – lemon verbena and mint sugar sounds delicious, even if I only use sugar to make syrups for fruit puddings! And those veg powders …. ! Wow, so clever. Hope you’re keeping well. Caro xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Caro. Well done for going plastic free. I’m working on it. I’ve just received some bamboo pots to trial. Thanks for reading and getting in touch. The discount code is really good too, and that price includes postage. I’ve got a stack of books to review, all with prize draws. It’s nice to share. I’m needing a dehydrator now so I can make all those veg powders. I’m really enjoying trying out the recipes. Have a great weekend. x


  9. Wow this book looks amazing, I don’t have any of your books and only just clicked on your name as I liked your comment on the allotment shed, I’d love a copy of this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Ceri. Thanks so much for reading. Welcome to the blog. Do feel free to have a look around while you are here. Good luck with the prize draw. I’ve got a stack of books to review for xmas, all with prize draws, so do come back and say hello again. All the best. Karen


    • Thanks for reading Samantha. Welcome to the blog. Do feel free to have a look around while you are here. I’ve got a stack of books to review for xmas all with prize draws, so please come back and say hello again next time. All the best. Karen


    • Me too! I did a project with the local radio station I do gardening shows with and we grew masses of potted cherry tomatoes. I’ve got three draws full in the freezer! I really needed this book before now. Thanks for reading and keep in touch. There’s piles of books coming up soon.


  10. I’m new to your blog, following a link from Steph, but I will be reading more. Reading this one about your trips to Bradgate, must mean you are local to it, I’m in Leicestershire too, whereabouts are you? Off to read some more posts.
    Oh & at the moment I’m mainly reading old magazines for Christmas recipe inspiration

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Linda. How wonderful to discover another local blogger. Do you know Alison Levy from – another leicestershire writer. Yes, I’m 20 mins from Bradgate. Have you been to Stoneywell NT yet? E mail for blogger meet ups at local plant nursery. Thanks for reading and for getting in touch.


  11. Good post and pictures. I’m not one for cooking so keep anything I do basic and simple.
    I’m reading some run-of-the-mill cosy crime at present, and I’ll be growing my usual vegetables next year but still deciding on varieties. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good to hear Mike. I’m just deciding how much space I need for all the old favourites, plus the new varieties I’d like to try out. I shall probably have to prune my list down as usual. Have a good week. All the best. Karen x

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh many thanks for your review Karen. I had read about this book elsewhere and have been ruminating whether to treat myself to a copy. You’ve persuaded me 🙂
    P.S. Haven’t made any this year but last year’s bumper crop of raspberries produced some most delicious raspberry gin. We will be enjoying the odd glass or two this coming winter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh that sounds wonderful. Do share the recipe please. Raspberry gin sounds just the thing. I’m just getting over a cold, and we haven’t got any alcohol in the house at all! I thought something gin based might soothe a sore throat. That’s my excuse anyway 🙂


  13. Karen the photos are magnificent. It’s lovely to remember your beloved grandmother Betty through the cakes when you were a girl: you should love her a lot. And it’s gorgeous that your most beautiful memories of the family are around a table eating.
    The vegetable soups, although they are only a photo, look delicious: they are my favorite. How many recipes of how many stews and desserts and drinks and liquors and even candles! It’s a fantastic cooking book. I never buy anything with palm oil: to do so is to destroy the habitat of millions of animals and kill them.
    I love how is your Shed with so many fruits and berries: what a good day of sunshine through the window. It is a wonderful place to be, I would say magical.
    The book I was reading before entering the Hospital and now read three pages and I get tired is “El Pazo de Ulloa” by Emilia Pardo Bazán, a Spanish writer of the late nineteenth century. It is a beautiful book and very long, better. As for the plants and flowers that I want to put next year that are for bees and butterflies. Thyme, Lavender, Coneflover and I have to think more. Karen for your Mother memories, health and love. For your family, health and love. For you love and health. Rest well. Take care. Very loving greetings from Margarita.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your wonderful summary of my photos and blog. Your comments are a visual treat as I see my potting shed and all things about me though your eyes. I’m concerned to see that you are so tired. It’s frustrating to only be able to read three pages. However, I know only too well, how exhausting it is to be convalescing. It all takes time. I so hope you are making progress and feeling much better now. Rest is a great healer, and also reading cheerful books and blogs keeps your spirits up. Thanks again for reading. Take care. Loving greetings in return from Karen . xx


      • Karen reading your blogs helps me heal. They are so beautiful and have so much sweetness and fond memories to your loved ones that when you read them you are happy. They are full of Nature everywhere and of beautiful things in the photos like flowers or berries like today presented with an exquisite decoration that makes it look like they have been deposited at random: You are very pleased. You are a great friend Karen. Thanks for your tips. You also rest to recover. Love and Health Take care. Loving greetings from Margarita.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. My Granny had a Bero book and so did my Mum and now I’ve inherited one. I always remember the black and white slightly floury cover. And if you said where did you get that recipe? It was ‘The Bero book’ of course. This new book sounds fab and I might need to add it to my you know what list. I do love to be inspired by a good book with lovely pictures. Chilly but sunny here today, just the right sort of day for planning ahead. My seed list is so long for next year that I couldn’t possibly list it here!

    Liked by 1 person

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