Once upon a time, it was de rigeur for celebrities to release a hit single. Or a perfume. Nowadays, it seems, it’s books. But not just the ubiqitous ‘auto’-biography (the inverted commas are due to the fact that they are usually actually penned by someone else)… the celeb book production line is extending well beyond the sordid tales of life-past and instead delving into a whole other world of peek-inside-my-life entertainment.
And I must admit, it’s fun to peek.
Perennially popular actress Lisa McCune has conjured up a book that’s as pretty as a perfume bottle and as catchy as a pop-hit tune. Hopscotch and Honey Joys is an unpretentious, beautifully produced peek into the TV star’s life through the heartwarming sharing of food, fun and games for family and friends.
McCune actually wrote the book with childhood friend Di Thomas, and the familiarity of friendship is apparent from even the very first pages, when the author duo muse on their relationship and how the book came about.
On the ensuing pages, Hopscotch and Honey Joys (love the title, by the way), features recipes for everyday food, beginning with Snack – from smoothies, lemonade and biscuits to breafkast treats, dips and tuna sausage rolls with wasabi mayo. Next comes Venture, with recipe ideas for food on the go – for adventures, picnics and, happily, a bucketload of school lunchbox ideas.
In feast, we get stuck into family meals that will please mum, dad, kids and everyone else who happens to stop on by (which is the quintessential theme of this book) – from ham hock minestrone with pasta scraps to personalised pasties, beetroot risotto and chicken curry with coconut.
In Celebrate, we are treated to fancy pants popcorn, marshmallow and fruit skewers, chocolate spiders and chicken nuggets. In Play, we can tumble happily in recipes for playdough, slime, potato-printing, card-making – and fun ideas for dress-ups and a teddy bear’s picnic.
In Indulge, we sweeten up with sesame caramels, honeycomb, mango mousse, creamy rice pudding and many more delectable tempters – all spouting recipes of the simplest order… so simple, the kids will happily wrap themselves in an apron and get stuck into the stirring.
Peppered throughout the book are notes and inspirational ideas on such topics as party games, herbs, cooking utensils, potato and pasta varieties, the garden, shopping tips and food styling ideas. Like snippety snatches of everyday family life, the book wanders through themes of family, food, friends, children, games, celebration, tradition and plain old-fashioned fun.
This may be a book with a food focus (though if you are looking for culinary inspiration, be warned: recipes are solidly traditional) but it is much more than that. Hopscotch and Honey Joys also has an approachable, warm, real life family focus, making it a book anyone can enjoy – not just the plethora of McCune fans (who will gobble this up with the creamy rice pudding). Visually, the book is a true delight, with striking photography and whimsical layouts, overlaid with childlike illustration and footnotes.
Unusual, inspiring and great fun to peruse, what I also love about the book are the brief intros to the recipes by either Di or Lisa, giving each one a highly personal connection that makes marshmallow squares special all over again (then again, when were they ever unspecial?).
If you have a passion for family, food, fun and whimsical recollections of childhood, you will adore this book. And yes, there’s also a recipe for hopscotch.
Title: Hopscotch and Honey Joys
Author: Lisa McCune and Di Thomas
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication Date: March 2011