Cooker and a Looker | Aussie Home Cooking

Cookbook, Farm cooking, cooking, Cooker and a Looker

My latest review thanks to Amanda from Cooker and a Looker and her Aussie home cooking fresh from the farm Cooker and a Looker cookbook.


Book Review | Book review blogger | Aussie Book Review | Agent Mystery Case



I must confess, I’m fairly old school when it comes to books. I’m not much of a fan of kindle or eBooks. I have far too much screen time as it is, so I much prefer to pick up a hard copy. I like to turn an actual page and make notes. Lots of notes.


Cookbooks are no exception.


Since moving to our smaller temporary accommodation earlier in the year, while we await the sale of our house, my extensive book collection has had a massive cull. The 16 tea chest size boxes of books that remain, in storage for now, have me almost looking at eBooks in a new and improved light. Almost.


In the book culling process before the move, I couldn’t believe how many cookbooks I owned that remained unused. On closer inspection, it was easy to see why. Recipes were impressive but so were the ingredients listed as was the level of difficulty. A perfect way to spend a heap of money on ingredients and stress yourself out in the kitchen trying not to ruin a meal, if you ask me. Not exactly how I like to do things.


These books were first to go and I’d made a promise to myself not to fall back into my old recipe book buying ways. When you are time poor and you don’t have much mojo for the current 1960s kitchen and oven in the first place, there just isn’t time for complicated over the top recipes.  Even with a family of five foodies.


We’ve been fairly stressed as a family of late. We are currently in the thick of major year 9, 11 & 12 exams, hubby is more often than not away at sea with work and we are missing family who are now 5000ish kms away with us in Perth.


With all the added stress, I found myself craving, as was the entire family, some good old fashioned home style cooking. Comfort food but not of the stodgy kind. Something that reminded us of my late nan (a bistro cook) and the wonderful times we had together around the table.


I’m the first to admit, as a family we’d fallen into a bit of a same old, same old rut when it came to family meals. While our current dodgy kitchen and oven had a lot to do with it, so did my complete lack of cooking mojo.


When fellow blogger Amanda Smyth launched her first recipe book recently, Cooker and a Looker – Aussie home cooking fresh from the farm, even though it was of the eBook variety, knowing her blog and her style of cooking, I couldn’t get my hands on a copy fast enough.


The book appealed to me on so many levels. If I’m honest, I actually saw it more as a means to get my three girls in the kitchen, cooking up a storm, so I could have more time for actual blogging. I didn’t envisage that it would help me find my cooking mojo along the way. In the end though, it did a lot more than that.



Cooker-and-Looker-Book; HOME COOKING

This really is a delightful cookbook, with 100 delicious fuss-free tried and true family approved recipes straight from Amanda’s farm table and kitchen.  Everything from…




In the book you’ll find traditional family favourites, along with the not so traditional, with lots of helpful hints along the way to make the whole cooking process easier. All recipes are relatively easy, without the need for an extensive pantry or ingredient list to bring them to the table and impress your family.


Like me, I’m guessing you will be hard picked to find a stand-out favourite recipe from this cookbook, they all end up being favourites. Trust me.


Amanda’s (no longer secret) prize winning Cucumber Pickles are sure to win you more than a few points in the kitchen and you’ll never buy store bought again after attempting her Yorkshire Oat Cakes. So good.



We have had so much fun working our way through the entire cookbook. I believe it will be the first cookbook where we’ve actually cooked each and every recipe. I don’t think I’ve ever attempted every recipe in a book before. Have you?


My family tend to head towards the sweet end of town first, with recipes like Mango Panna Cotta and Mum’s Mulberry and Apple Crumble from the dessert menu. Not to mention, Lemon Delicious Pudding, just one of the delicious sweet treats that speaks volumes in my house from the benevolent baking menu.


For me, it was the effortless entertaining recipes (followed very closely by family dinners), that provided the most inspiration. This style of cooking is so my style. Quick and easy fuss-free recipes. Recipes that pack an impressive and elaborate looking punch, without the complicated stress factor that tends to come when you are entertaining the masses, giving you more time at the table connecting. Recipes like Chilli Mud Crab, Vanilla Braised Beef Cheeks and Saffron Prawn Risotto.


I love entertaining and the joy that sharing good food brings. To me, it’s all about delicious, fuss-free recipes that let you spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your guests. Amanda Smyth


The only real negative to the book for me, is the fact it is an eBook. As much as I tried, I just can’t move away from my retro, old school, cookbook ways.


cooker and a looker book

Thankfully though the hard copy of the book should be out just in time for Christmas. So if on the odd chance I don’t actually go through with my threat to cancel Christmas (it’s a long story), you can guess what I’ll be getting myself for Christmas this year.  In fact, it would make the perfect gift for all my family and friends.


Even better than that though, Amanda will be running a 14 day re-discover your kitchen mojo challenge in March next year.  I’m honestly hoping to be in our new and improved house/kitchen by then and looking to have a lot of fun with this challenge.


Cooker and a Looker re-disover your kitchen mojo in 2017 challenge

You can find out more about Amanda and how to purchase your own copy of the book at the Cooker and a Looker blog.


What’s your home cooking style? Have you ever lost your kitchen/cooking mojo? 


*I was gifted the eBook for review purposes, like always opinions and over sharing my family kitchen and cooking habits are my own. I have every intention of purchasing the hard copy the minute it hits the shelves. There’s a very good reason this divine cookbook made it to #9 on the Amazon best sellers list.

About Mystery Case 636 Articles
Managing Editor of Agent Mystery Case. Follow Raychael aka Mystery Case on her mystery adventures 'casing' people, products and places to bring you her worth casing favourites.
  • What a great review! Sounds like an amazing cook book – LOVE the idea of a 14-day rediscover your kitchen mojo challenge xx

    • I feel like I’ve already been on a 14 day rediscovery with the book, can’t wait for the actual challenge.

    • I’m thrilled to read that the challenge is something that is appealing to people. Thanks Josefa. I hope you’re well.
      A x

  • LydiaCLee

    Just in time for xmas….! From Oprah to her own cookbook! What a great journey she’s made! Congratulations and well done (I’m supremely jealous in a good way 😉

    • A wonderful journey Lydia. You know that saying… ‘everyone has a book in them’? I’m guessing it doesn’t ring true for cookbooks.

      • LydiaCLee

        hehe Def not me!!!!!

    • I know Lydia. Who’d have thought that this was where my faffing about on the internet would lead? (Certainly not me!)
      A xx

  • I’ve got the e book too and am also a massive fan. I’ve asked Santa for the hard copy for Christmas!

    • Do you have a favourite recipe from the book?

      • The flourless jaffa cake is sublime and I am dying to try the raspberry yoghurt cake too. As with all cookery books, the sweet stuff is at the back, so naturally I’m working my way back to front… Because sweet teeth!

        • My girls love the raspberry yoghurt cake. I made a very similar cake when I auditioned for the Brownes’ blogger gig.

        • That still makes me laugh – the idea of reading a cookbook from back to front! 😉

          • How weird, I do this as well. So does hubby. On birthdays we always start our meal with dessert and work our way backwards. Which generally means ending the meal with a massive cheese platter.

          • I wouldn’t read it any other way! Dessert is always first!

          • Hubby took me to the Death by Chocolate restaurant in Neutral Bay for our second date. Is that place still around?

          • I’m not sure, I don’t think so because if it was I would have been 🙂

  • My home cooking style is not great. I need this book and Amanda’s help. I’m excited to learn about the kitchen mojo challenge. Sounds awesome!!

    • It does sound awesome. I find also for me, now that I’m gluten, dairy and egg free (a few other things as well) and can’t eat most of the food, I hardly want to cook. This has certainly helped get my mojo back. I might need Amanda to do a gluten free cookbook next.

  • I love cookbooks and I too prefer the traditional paper version over the ebook version. There is something so relaxing and filled with potential flicking through the pages of a cookbook and planning which recipes to make in the future. Quite often it’s all about the looking and less about the cooking for me however – lol!

    • Completely agree with you on the traditional paper version. So very relaxing. I love finding the odd finger print as well. Usually from when I’ve been teaching the my girls how to cook.

      Any reason why it is more about looking for you? Is it time or the particular cookbook? I know for us, we just don’t do complicated anymore which is why I loved each recipe in Amanda’s book. Nothing was too complicated. My girls could manage each and every recipe on their own.

  • Mango panna cotta! I’m going to get me a copy just for that! But seriously – having cooked everything in a cookbook is a massive endorsement! I started ripping pages out of cookbooks and recycling the actual book when I realised there were usually only 1 or 2 in each book that I actually cooked.

    • We just took delivery of our first tray (10 kg) of mango this week and yes I’m usually the same with cookbooks, tend to find one or two favourties but this is jammed packed with family favourites.

  • Thanks for casing the book Mystery Case. I can’t believe you’ve made every recipe – that’s a superhuman effort!
    A xx

    • It actually was the best distraction for the entire house and the perfect way for us to get out of our ‘what are we having for dinner tonight, not the same old same old’ blues, which often saw us popping over to the shops for take-away now we are just a 2 minute walk away. Instead we picked a recipe and shopped the ingredients. Most of the time (apart from seafood) we had the ingredients on hand.

      • I’m thrilled to read this. When I wrote the book I wanted it to be family-friendly (no complex techniques or difficult to get ingredients). So glad it worked for your family. 🙂

  • Tracey B

    I lost my cooking mojo 8 years ago, after a major car accident. Prior to that, I was cooking everything from scratch, even baking my own bread and all the kid’s school snacks. I have issues for standing for long periods now and have struggled on and off to get back into the swing of things, but our current home has an awful kitchen with a crazy layout – no decent bench space or power points. We have just bought a new house and it has miles of granite bench tops, enough room for all 4 of us to get into the kitchen together and a bright, sunny, open atmosphere.
    I can’t wait to get in there and reboot my love for cooking – Amanda’s book is great (salmon rissoles on the menu tonight) and I also need to sort out my expansive cookbook collection and cull the dusty unused ones!

    • So sorry to hear about your car accident. I use to cook everything from scratch as well, I’m not entirely sure when they stopped. The dodgy kitchen certainly doesn’t help.

      Congrats on the new house. I can’t wait to do the same thing and hopefully have my ideal dream kitchen.

      Perhaps we could do the kitchen mojo challenge together in March and inspire each other out of our kitchen ruts?

  • Nicole @ The Builder’s Wife

    I love Amanda and cannot wait to get a real copy of this book in my hands. x

    • Such a fab cookbook. I can easily see it becoming our one and only go to family friendly cookbook.

  • Hugzilla

    Confession time: I do not own a single cookbook but if I did, it would be this one. So proud of her – and an achievement that is so well deserved x

    • Do you not cook/bake or experiment in the kitchen? Or do you look for recipes online?

  • I am with you and am not a fan of the ebook, especially as a cookbook. I’m waiting for this one to come out in hardcopy and then it will be mine! 🙂

  • Natalie @ Our Parallel Connect

    I do not like cooking and have never followed a recipe book from start to finish, let alone lots of recipes. I should try that one day

    • It was an interesting exercise for us as a family Natalie. Perhaps it is something you could try with your family. Perhaps rather than take on the entire recipe book, start with one chapter. For us it would be dessert.

  • Wow that is a commitment cooking your way through a cookbook! I can’t wait to get a copy of this. I am a hardcopy book so I am waiting. With these rave reviews I am super excited!

  • It sounds awesome, your review has definitely sold me! I too like physical cookbooks, but with the arrival of the Thermomix in to our house I could really do with an eBook cookbook that I can have on my phone and beside me while I try to cook. Definitely going to get my hands on this one!