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All Stirred up: Over 150 of the Best Recipes from the Women’s Culinary Network

by Laura Buckley and Madeleine Greey, eds.

The Women’s Culinary Network is an international group of women food professionals (most based in Toronto) who have aligned themselves, according to their chairwoman, Nettie Cronish, “to share professional experience, knowledge and information that could expand [their] horizons.” They are chefs, caterers, teachers, journalists, food stylists, product and recipe developers, dietitians, nutritionists, and home economists. Numbering 225, they hold bimonthly meetings, publish newsletters, and maintain a web site. All Stirred Up collects work from 67 of these women.

Most of the big female fish of the Canadian cookery pond are represented here: Bonnie Stern, Lucy Waverman, Anne Lindsay, Cynthia David, Rose Reisman, Elizabeth Baird. So are a refreshingly large number of lesser-known chefs, such as award-winning cookbook authors Regan Daley and Naomi Duguid, who, respectively, give us recipes for wildflower honey ice cream and Shan roasted eggplant. Sudha Sajan, an East Indian chef in Singapore, offers curried chickpeas with coconut flakes. Consultant and cooking instructor Joanne Leese offers mocha praline torte. Madeleine Greey, a journalist, teacher, and one of the book’s two editors, contributes stir-fried endamam (soybeans) with pickled cabbage. The other editor, Laura Buckley, a chef and consultant, provides berry-stuffed French toast.

The book is almost without structure – it simply leapfrogs between chefs who contribute menus of up to six recipes and others who give a single recipe. There are short biographies for each. The menus are augmented by personal statements. Interspersed throughout are job descriptions for six of the professions listed above. There are also eight sumptuous colour photographs.

This somewhat artless structure is not a fault. It would be difficult to categorize such a diverse collection. More importantly, one sees a deft editorial hand in the broad selection of recipes, all of which, we’re assured, have been laboriously tested to ensure uniformity and quality. Despite the air of promotion looming over this project, it’s interesting to see a cookbook that works well for not having a meretricious theme, such as the four seasons or low fat, imposed onto its design.