Simple Pleasures by Annabel Langbein

simple-pleasuresIs it for you?

You need this cookbook if you are just starting out with cooking, or if you want to use a lot of your own produce from the garden. It is easy to read, and the steps are easy to follow which makes cooking from this cookbook a really pleasant experience. Β It is an absolutely great book for beginners or budding cooks as it has some solid go-to recipes as well as detailed information for cooking times, and what to look out for as your meal is cooking. This cookbook is also perfect for those not wanting to hunt for exotic ingredients, or pay for expensive ones. All the ingredients used in this cookbook are easy to find in your local supermarket, or fresh produce store.

The Cooking Experience

If you are a New Zealander you will find cooking from this cookbook a familiar experience. A lot of the recipes in this cookbook reflect New Zealand hand me down recipes that people tend to break out at the summer BBQs or a dinner amongst friends. Annabel, bless her cotton socks, has taken the time to document these sorts of dishes into her cookbook. As I was reading through the various sections of this cookbook I would keep stumbling across recipes like the Chunky Guacamole, and the Aromatic Steamed Mussels that took my mind back in time to childhood memories of when I have tried these recipes. For me, this adds a lot to the cooking experience, it makes it more meaningful and fulfilling for me as I can cook meals for others that I have had strong ties to in the past.


If you own a garden you are in for a treat with this cookbook. A clear theme throughout this cookbook, is cooking from the land, and using what you have to create these delicious, refreshing and healthy meals. The descriptive sections that split up the various sections of this cookbook explain Annabel’s experience with gardening, or using herbs, fruit or vegetables she has produced. These sections are a great read, and give you an insight into how home grown goods can really transform your cooking, provide you with a sense of achievement and ensure that you are cooking meals of great nutritional value.


For me, this cookbook stands out for the small recipes it includes. While this sounds a bit strange, this cookbook includes a lot of sauce recipes, an easy naan bread recipe and various common cocktail recipes. Often with sources or cocktails the recipes can seem complex, costly and a lot of effort for what you get out of them. Due to the style of the cookbook, in terms of recipe methods, these recipes come across as achievable, delicious (from the beautiful illustrations) and worth the time and effort. Annabel does a brilliant job with these sorts of recipes in terms of simplification and keeping only what matters to deliver a gorgeous sauce or complimentary side dish.


Was it for me?

This cookbook is one that I have, and will use until its pages are marked, tattered and torn. It is a cookbook I can return to time and again when I want to try out a new recipe, or am out of ideas. I know I will find something in this cookbook to make, that it will be hassle free and turn out marvelously. My copy of this cookbook is fringed with multiple coloured post it notes of various types which indicate how they have been removed and added over the last few years that I have owned this cookbook. This cookbook offers exactly what you expect when you open the front cover; easy, genuine and delicious meals straight from the garden and I enjoy cooking from it every time because of this.

Recipes I’ve tried

  • Chunky guacamole
  • Crisp cos salad
  • Summer basil pesto
  • Smoky chilli beans
  • Parsley mashed potatoes


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