I get it now

A few months ago I read that James Barber died. I was a saddened as he was part of my childhood. I used to watch The Urban Peasant during summer vacations and on sick days from school. He used to, in my mind, make "weird" things. I grew up in a pretty strict meat and potatoes type of household where even something as simple as spaghetti and meatballs was out of the ordinary for us. So my definition of weird food then was pretty broad.

Upon hearing the news that he had passed away I decided that I really needed to have at least one of his books. I added a few to my online wishlist and when a day came when I was topping up a book order to get free shipping I threw his recently revised edition of Cooking for Two into the mix (love the intertwined carrots on the cover don't you?). I can say, now years older and with greater exposure to the culinary world that lies outside meat and potatoes, James Barber did not cook weird food. He made good food made with good ingredients. He knew that in the dead of winter Canadians needed hearty food and in the dog days of summer we needed food that was crisp and flavourful. And when he cooks for two, he really does cook for two. None of those 8 serving recipes finding their way into this book.

James Barber performed a phenomenal task - he got me into the kitchen BAKING twice in one day. Shocking isn't it??? I mean, I don't bake. And not only did I bake...I baked a cake! But I'm getting ahead of myself.

After leafing through it to mark recipes my copy now looks as though it was attacked by a pink multi-legged insect because I've flagged so may to try. Those of you that know me well likely won't be surprised to know that very first recipe I've tried is his Hot Biscuits in a Hurry. It's a simple combination of baking powder, flour, salt and sour cream. Not the same as my mom's - more tangy - but quick and easy to whip up for Sunday morning tea and biscuits with a few leftover for the freezer.

In the oven now, and smelling oh so yummy, is a raspberry coffee cake. I'm a sucker for cakes that use raspberries. Again, very simple to make and if tastes half as good as it smells it will be a winner.

I still need to sample his main courses but I'm really willing to declare this book as a winner. It's not often I find cookbooks with recipes for one or two people that fall into the category of every day cooking but this one does. And it includes a section with holiday menus and recipes for those special occasions.

I really wish I had appreciated The Urban Peasant more when I was a kid. And now you must excuse me because I have to go add the rest of his cookbooks to my wishlist.

EDIT: Verdict on the cake is positive although next time I'll probably only make half the called for topping or none at all as I find the topping too sweet.