I wasn’t expecting much from this. So what if it‘s written by an actress? The subject didn’t exactly float my boat either. Family food. Yawn.Not that I’ve got anything against family food, per se. Food is love, in my book, and feeding your family’s got to be one of the best things ever. But in cookbook-land, the term is usually shorthand for crap. The obligatory Jamie Oliver quote on the cover did nothing to dispel my doubts. “Witty, fun and great recipes that work!” As if it’s a surprise that a cookbook has recipes that, you know, work… But I was surprised. The book is a revelation. Fay Ripley can cook. Crucially, she makes the reader want to get stuck into the kitchen and do the same. Chiefly because of the very real charm and warmth conveyed by her writing. For once, the celebrity chef endorsement is bang on. You’ve got to love a cook who’s not afraid to admit she gets it wrong sometimes and is no stranger to a burnt pot. But you’re unlikely to go wrong following her recipes, which will see you through everything from breakfast to birthday parties (there’s a kids’ party planner at the back). The instructions are simple and the finished dishes look stunning without being over the top. Delicious, healthy, and achievable. I can see them appealing to kids and adults alike, and not just because of all the glossy colour pics of Fay’s photogenic family tucking into their five-plus a day. I know it’s a bit of a cliche now to use all those images of happy families cooking together and enjoying the food, but that’s what it’s all about, eh? And in this sort of thing, it works a treat, making you feel you’ve been invited in. Shots of the kids’ artwork on the walls only enhances the experience. There’s a pic of every dish, too – important, I’m told, for nervous cooks. A friend once said she never makes a recipe that doesn’t have a picture, because without one she’ll have no idea how it should turn out. The book’s basic concept will be a boon for time-poor parents, and especially useful for those new to feeding tots: instead of dishing up two or three different meals to keep the whole family happy, you cook one, portioning off bits for baby and toddler before seasoning and serving to the adults. I even learned stuff. You shouldn’t give rice to babies. Who knew? The food in here is too good to confine to families though. Confession time again. I don’t have kids, so was going to give this to my sister, who does. But they’re all tough out of luck. This book’s a keeper.