Pink Gin and Fairy Cakes is a locally written and published cookbook by eco-warrior, dog lover, mother and wife (to name a few) Jan Kohler. The book is centered around the idea of family and fun and showcases how good food can be made and enjoyed by everyone. From the start, Jan credits her family. They are referred to throughout this book, recipes are named after them, their helping hands are pictured in her images and they are the ones she’s most keen to please. There is so much power in how food brings people together, how it adds to celebration, signals important life events or simply how it’s shared between a family at dinner. Food creates unforgettable memories and exciting conversations, teaches and challenges, develops skills and tests patience, and it tastes so darn good! In this book, Jan honours this incredible power by compiling her most loved and enjoyed recipes, introducing each with a heartfelt note detailing what makes it so special.
With 9 themed sections, you can find recipes for everyone. From cooking with kids to feeding a family, outdoor picnics or a party for the parents, Pink Gin and Fairy Cakes allows the reader to feel comfortable and familiar with its content. The story is accessible and realistic for all South Africans, (who doesn’t want a parent party going on adjacent to your kids’ party?) and the contents lend themselves to easy adaptation to suit cultural or personal preferences. Whether you’re looking to find family-friendly weekday meals, a new dessert to show off at a dinner club, or some inspiration for a kid’s party, Jan has got you covered.
Another appreciated (and often taken for granted) section is found at the beginning of her book. This is a comprehensive guide with photos included on kitchen gadgets and general information to help you make the most of your space as well as feel comfortable using tools you may not be familiar with. Although Jan uses a number of incredible kitchen tools, like a stand mixer or ice cream machine, she includes many recipes that don’t use fancy equipment. If you’re a student, in a small space, or simply on a budget, there are still many recipes that can be easily replicated without all the bells and whistles.
As a baker and lover of sweet things, I was immediately drawn to all the bakes in this book. Four fluffy layers of red velvet cake sit sandwiched together with a regal cream cheese icing. A snowy dusting of icing sugar lightly coats a chocolate brownie. A layer of tangy passionfruit pulp glides over the surface of a crisp pavlova. These classic bakes leave a warm feeling behind, their recipe pages ready to become messy with the ingredients used to make them.
Although my eye is often looking for chocolate, icing, meringue and biscuits, something else in this book caught my eye. Say hello to the most drool-worthy chicken enchiladas, nachos and lasagne. All of these feature a generous covering of toasty, golden cheese ready to be devoured. Honestly, for me (and I think most South Africans), it’s not the twice-smoked duck accompanied with some vegetable puree topped with a crouton that is the fan favourite, it’s usually a pasta or pastry base that is absolutely smothered in cheese, grilled and enjoyed outside with a refreshing drink. Speaking of, Jan boosts your imagination by including a few deliciously refreshing drinks for you to try out and impress. Hosting a get-together? Try her slushy margarita sorbet, it’s a definite party-starter.
The love, warmth and easy-going nature of this book are what will make it a great addition to your collection and a weekly go-to. Jan aims to help the reader build a balanced and delicious food foundation while introducing achievable challenges that help create confidence in the kitchen. There are a few resounding themes that echo across the pages of Pink Gin and Fairy Cakes; her words are comforting and encouraging, her recipes are colourful and nostalgic, but overall, there’s a sense that she’s there beside you, anecdote at the ready, excited to see you succeed and enjoy her recipes.
You could win 1 of 6 copies of Pink Gin and Fairy Cakes! All you need to do is enter your details below:
Ts&Cs apply | Competition runs until 15th January 2022
Written by Sjaan van der Ploeg