Ever since the Great British Bake Off swept into our lives, it’s rekindled a love for baking I’ve held onto since I was a child. My mother was always in the kitchen when I was growing up, prepping, cooking, baking, and as soon as I had my own kitchen at 20, I embraced the tradition whenever I had the time and ingredients to do so. Cakes from scratch, breads, cookies, you name it, I loved baking it, and I even enjoyed laughing at my own failures and disappointments. But sometimes life gets in the way, and we find ourselves moving away from the kitchen and toward simpler means of filling our bellies. Tragic, yes, especially considering how often that convenience means shoving food into our bodies we may not know that much about simply for the sake of eating.
My husband, James, discovered a couple years ago how much he enjoys cooking, something he hadn’t experimented with a whole lot over the course of his life. He fell in love baking cakes from scratch, making unique dinner dishes he’d never tried before, and seeing his enjoyment was an inspiration in and of itself. We started thinking about the food we put into our bodies in a whole new way, especially considering that James has Crohn’s Disease, which means he has to be incredibly careful about what he eats or he gets violently ill.
When we started watching the Great British Bake Off a couple years ago, and the Masterclass show Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry did together to break down some of the recipes they assigned on the show, it only continued to add fuel to the fire of excitement, and these days we’re always in the kitchen whipping something fun together, thanks to the confidence instilled in us by those shows, we found ourselves tackling things we might never have considered before, like plaited breads, Chelsea buns, simple Victoria sandwich cakes, and so much more.
I admire Mary Berry a great deal because she’s been at this baking and cooking business for decades in more capacities than you can even begin to imagine, so when the opportunity to check out her 2013 autobiography and learn more about her popped up, I jumped at the chance.
Covering the moments of her life right up until she departed from the Great British Bake Off, it was such an endearing story. She spoke candidly about her family, their life during WWII and the Depression, her attitude toward education as a child, the polio she was fortunate enough to survive, the friendships she forged on her path, her pioneering days as a business woman who chose to continue her budding career rather than staying home to be a full-time housewife and mother (as was expected of women back in those days,) and how she made it through the loss of one of her children.
Between each chapter, she included tried and true recipes she uses in her own kitchen, everything from traybakes and cakes to dinners and side dishes. It increased my admiration for her even more, though I can’t imagine how because I already adore her more than words can say. This was the first book I finished reading in 2019, so I’d say I’m off to a delicious start!
If you’re a lover of biographies, I definitely recommend Mary Berry’s Recipe for Life, as it covers a great deal of ground in a friendly and informal tone that makes you feel as though you’re sitting right there at the same table with her, having a cup of tea and listening to her share her life story.
Five out of five stars!