The Creative Kitchen

Simon Hursthouse | Friday, 11th January 2019
A celebration of healthy and careful living, minimising waste while being kind on the pocket. Packed with recipes for salads, soups, main meals, drinks, cleaners, body care products and insect repellents.
Author: Stephanie Hafferty
Publisher: Permanent Publications
Publication year: 2018
RRP: £19.95

After reading in PM that Stephanie Hafferty dries washing in her polytunnel over winter, I immediately warmed to her take on stacking functions. Now, in The Creative Kitchen, she invites us into the heart of her home, revealing recipes for the good life with a permaculture twist.

As an author, no dig organic gardener, horticultural designer, tutor, plant-based chef, and mother of three, Hafferty’s holistic approach to the work/life balance shines through in her latest book. Much more than just another cookbook, The Creative Kitchen is hopefully all you might need to keep hearth and home together in these topsy turvy times. 

The bulk of this lavish volume is aimed at anyone looking to get maximum enjoyment from their veggies, fruit, herbs and spices, through creating healthy salads and main courses for a family, as well as soups, dips, pickles, pâté and more. Different cuisines feature, most notably Thai, and all the dishes are plant-based and vibrant, yet unfussy. Hafferty regularly cooks dishes for participants on her no dig gardening courses with Charles Dowding, with most of the protein coming from the beans, pulses, nuts and seeds grown by them both in Somerset (no tofu here). 

Colour photographs throughout all look good enough to eat, which is saying something, as the book also includes recipes for making your own toilet cleaner, among other useful household and personal care products. A further chapter, sure to become well-thumbed this winter, deals with health-promoting herbal teas, infusions and even alcoholic concoctions for good measure. Having tried a few of the recipes from the craft chapter (lip balm, soap), it’s worth noting that the products themselves, apart from being useful, elegantly make a house a home.

For anyone who looks to the garden and resources to hand, before looking to the market, The Creative Kitchen will provide valuable insights. Hafferty’s meals show the difference between an accomplished chef and a plain cook. If you don’t already, you’ll soon know a bain-marie from a baba ganoush, and no longer face a courgette glut with dread. Apart from a food dehydrator, no specialised equipment is required. Of the home and body care recipes, again, Hafferty’s experience is telling. All the recipes are easy to follow, with thrifty, time-saving tips throughout, using ingredients that can be grown in a maritime climate, barring the odd exception.

The Creative Kitchen is really a celebration of healthy and careful living, minimising waste while being kind on the pocket. It’s not preachy, there’s no whiff of gastronomic elitism, nor does it overburden the reader with unnecessary information. In short, as one no dig course participant put it, “it’s love on a plate”. 

Simon Hursthouse lives in Hungary, and runs