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There might just be one constant and constantly overlooked population in our global community – irritable working women. Most of them work, and most of them cook. And there are occasions when this may happen without the customary good grace implied in most cookbooks. Generally cookbooks are written with a love of food or a love of devoted obedience to the ritual of sourcing ingredients, sharp-eyed shopping and paying homage to every last instruction in the book. There are cookbooks from every corner of the globe, for nail-biting newly-weds, raising your children to win the Nobel Prize, the great outdoors, religious purists, vegetarian or vegan, baking in a bundt pan or building your own clay oven. But these weighty and worthy tomes fail to address the humour of the people who have to do the work. The Irritable Working Woman’s Cookbook offers a fresh approach to a sometimes stale topic. These are recipes for women who work, who may or may not love their jobs, and who may not always be in the best humour at the end of the day. The book takes a disrespectful look at the powers governing today’s working woman, and offers recipes that are easy and nourishing or complicated and time-consuming, aiming to take her mind off her working woes. The book is also anecdotal, sharing cooking customs from the author’s homesick Scottish granny to her resourceful Lithuanian grandmother. There are recipes for traditional Jewish specialities, common-sense cooking, new-age food for novices, classic desserts and cakes that will make you turn cartwheels. Along the way Shea Albert divulges her own journey to gourmet graduation, as well as the most outstanding cooking and people of her life’s experience. This book has been written with working women in mind. And they are sometimes irritable. I don’t know anyone who comes home euphoric and ready to whip on an apron, whip up a soufflé or whip off her clothes. If you are depressed, food will cheer you up. Here are fast, easy dishes to nourish your spirit and uplift your body. Or vice versa. If you are still depressed, behold recipes that are more time consuming and guaranteed to take your mind off your troubles – but you have to pay attention. If you hate cooking I can’t understand why you bought this book. Perhaps you are in search of a kindred sort of irritability. If you don’t get satisfaction from cooking, head over to Nandos. If you like junk food, go to KFC. If you are too depressed to lift up a ladle, go to Woolworths (if you’re an irritable working woman, I assume you can pay for the privilege). If you are a working man who has managed to compartmentalise everything in the universe, welcome aboard. Just store the contents under ‘Cooking’ and ‘Emotion’. Some cooks are courageous, some are inspired. I followed recipes for most of my life but developed intuition as I went along. My daughter practiced alchemy without a cookbook. I include her favourite recipes here, so she can inspire you too. ‘Hospitality is one form of worship,’ says the Talmud. And that’s true. When visitors’ faces light up at the mere thought of your food, who cares about the crabby nitpickers at the office.

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