Saturday, November 27, 2021

It's a Wonderful Life: The Official Bailey Family Cookbook

It's a Wonderful Life
The Official Bailey Family Cookbook
by Insight Editions
October 2021
Hardcover ISBN: 9781683839453
128 pages

George Bailey: There she blows. You know what the three most exciting sounds in the world are?
Uncle Billy: Uh huh. Breakfast is served; lunch is served; dinner...

Food plays a small but important role in the holiday classic It's a Wonderful Life (1946). Now fans of Frank Capra's uplifting drama can celebrate with a cookbook inspired by scenes and characters from the movie. 

Published by Insight Editions, It's a Wonderful Life: The Official Bailey Family Cookbook is a retro-style collection of recipes and craft ideas sure to win over any classic movie fans this holiday season. The book is divided into seven sections: Appetizers, Sides, Entrees, Desserts, Cocktails and Drinks, Christmas Crafts and Vintage Christmas Dinner. Each recipe comes with a little introduction tying it to the film. Some of these connections are more obvious than others but are all in the spirit of the movie. Some with direct connections include Annie's Mixed Berry Pie (served by Annie to Harry Bailey for the high school graduation party), Phonograph Fowl (the honeymoon scene has Mary turning chickens over a fire with the help of a phonograph), Coconut Fudge Icebox Cake (inspired by when a young Mary orders chocolate ice cream and young George tries to convince her to add coconuts), Zuzu's Gingersnaps (a reference to when George calls Zuzu his "little gingersnap") and more. There are also a few Italian recipes in the bunch as a tribute to the beloved character Mr. Martini (William Edmunds). I'm quite impressed with how the recipes stay true to the movie because I feel it would have been very easy to stray away from that concept.

I loved the retro-style photography. This truly does look like a cookbook born out of the mid 20th century.

There were a few recipes I really couldn't make because of the level of detail and the extra ingredients I would need. However, the majority of the recipes were very approachable for the average home cook, like myself. The highlight of the book is really the deserts and the cocktails. For those who abstain from alcohol, there are two non-alcoholic drink recipes and one that can be modified.

George Bailey: I'll give you the moon, Mary.

Mary: I'll take it. Then what?

George Bailey: Well, then you can swallow it, and it'll all dissolve, see... and the moonbeams would shoot out of your fingers and your toes and the ends of your hair... am I talking too much?


I had a go at making a three course meal from the book. Here is the menu:

Wedge Salad
Oven-Braised Corned Beef with Mustard Sauce
Meltaway Moon Cookies
Zuzu's Petals

Check out my latest video to learn more about my thoughts on the book and how the meal came out!

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