Brownie Love

For as much as I love cake, and I do love cake in all their disguises, I can’t really eat a lot of it in one sitting. In that case my stomach is quite sensitive and I can’t have too much of a good thing (it’s smarter than my brain).

But if anything has to come close to me polishing off a tray, it has been the River Cottages Beetroot Brownies. I make a whole tray which I could easily demolish in a day. My other weakness is Jack Munroe’s Vegan banana bread from her book a girl called jack, that never stands a chance.


But back to Brownies…
Mr CM has claimed that this is more cake than brownie and he would like to think he knows as he is a self-appointed brownie expert (or so he thinks.) Actually off subject again. Last year I was requested for his birthday to make him a cake of such monstrosity that I’m certain it would be something you would only see on an extreme baking. Instruction were as follows.

A layer of Nigella’s devil’s food cake, a layer of fluff, then a layer of Hummingbird’s American style Brownie, followed by another layer of fluff and then topped with Nigella’s Christmas Rocky Road.

No one has even seen anything so decadent (probably). The sugar content alone should have given it a health warning label. It struggled to stay up. But after a few days of the layers melting into each other he made the bold statement every baker wants to hear, “That Brownie was the greatest thing I’ve ever eaten”. ( I wish I had taken a photo of this)

So Back to this cake style brownie. My ,my, my it’s the bomb! The beetroot gives the cake a moisture you really wouldn’t expect (even after being left in the fridge) and it goes on for days and days and is still perfect…if not a bit better!


I  I reduced the eggs to two because of Mr CM’s allergies (he claims it still affected him anyway) and I didn’t notice a difference in the quality. I also did not add any substitutes to it. I did have to leave it a bit longer in the oven (30 mins, but that could just me my crap oven)

It’s no angel, it has lots of sugar in it,,,,but it also has beetroot so that’s good! I wonder if you could make a sugar free version of this?

I’ve lifted the recipe straight from River Cottage, I’m sure Hugh wont mind.

  • 250g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 250g dark chocolate (about 70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 250g caster sugar
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 150g self-raising flour (wholemeal ideally but white works well too)
  • 250g beetroot, boiled until tender, cooled, peeled and grated


Grease a shallow baking tin, approximately 20 x 25cm, and line the base with baking parchment.

Put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Set the oven at 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and put the bowl in it for a few minutes until the chocolate and butter start to melt.

Stir, then put back in to the oven for a few more minutes to melt completely. Of course, you could melt them together in the traditional way, over a pan of hot water, but it is a shame not to exploit the warming oven.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl until combined then beat in the melted chocolate and butter until smooth.

Combine the salt with the flour, sift them over the chocolate mixture, then gently fold in with a large metal spoon. Fold in the grated beetroot – be careful not to over-mix or it will make the brownies tough.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes; when the brownies are done, a knife or skewer inserted in the center should come out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it.

Don’t be tempted to overcook them or they will be dry. Remove the tin from the oven and leave on a wire rack to cool before cutting in to squares.

I’m already missing  the Great British Bake Off now It’s finished. I’m trying to fill the gap with Australian Masterchef, but it’s just not the same. Its a bit like comparing a Great Dane to a Chihuahua.

A block like a bad run of Tetris.

I’ve got writers block, I’ve had it for a few weeks now. I could really do without it at the moment as I have some deadlines coming up and I need to be going for gold all of the time.. But I’m not . I’m looking for inspiration which last’s about 10 minutes, then it’s back to distraction.

I’m easily distracted. I get a cuppa, I go to eat something, put tv on, even do the dusting ffs. This is what I’m doing now, I should be coming up with small pieces of witty gems but instead I’m watching Dave Gorman and writing this instead.

I’m sorry I should have put up some pictures of the quilting blocks I’ve  been working on, but I haven’t taken any photos of my current projects …. Oh lets talk about the horrors of  taking photos indoors of fabric in good light in Autumn in the UK. Let’s not it’s too difficult. It’s more difficult when you a) don’t have any proper lighting gear and b) you’ve not got many photography skills to begin with.

Well this entry isn’t going to win me any new followers so l’ll just add this week photographic curiosities. Which does include a block I have made.


That’s a nice bit of quilting I’ve done there if I do say so myself. hashtag fakefreemotionrevolution (I can’t find the hash tag key on my Mac).


I can’t lay claim to making this, it was all Mr CM’s handiwork but she was part of my weekend. I should have taken a photo of the 20 minute q I waited in at the Canterbury Food festival for a wrap. The wrap was ok, but not VERY GOOD as the people behind me claimed it to be. Shouldn’t of listened to them, they were strangers after all…. and I shouldn’t have been eavesdropping to be fair.


That’s not a bad photo. I did take that.


Trying to waste 20 minutes at work.

Sorry about that… my procrastination is of no interest. Next entry I’ll try to have something of a bit more worth.

Punk Rock Lanyards

There is a lot going on in the head and in the house of the Crafty Mastermind at the moment, all of which I will reveal in the next few weeks, but I have been dropping bits here and there .

I am trying desperately to finish some projects but that Negroni shirt still remains arm less and the  feathers quilt is still unfinished and my mum’s gift is a month late and still no where near complete…sigh and I need to start on a whole world of other things.

Here is this weeks crafty effort.


My lanyard decided it had enough, there were no spares. Out came the staples and I must say I like my new punk looking lanyard, it moves me slightly away from the “not a qualified librarian ” look that I’m going for. I might do the whole lot in staples.

Its not very exciting I l know, but it’s all I’ve got for the moment.

The long and winding quilt

I’ve been quiet on the quilting front for ages. I’m in the middle of 3 with my mind on at least another 2 I want to make. But I finally finished one! Thanks to a moment of Marie Kondo inspired tidying frenzy. I couldn’t stand seeing this half-finished quilt hanging around anymore.


I started this in 2013, it was my second quilt I picked the Rosewater from Sarah Fielke’s Hand quilted with love. It looked like an easy one for beginners and I had bought lots of fabric for Rockette.


I pieced the top all together easy enough, but if I can remember I had problems understanding the measurements (what’s new), but once I was off it came together easily enough for a beginner. I then got distracted and started experimenting with sample blocks from the Fat Quarterly Shape Workshop for Quilters book. So whilst learning different quilting techniques I amassed a few different sized blocks. So I pieced it all together to make the back.



I put it together and then I stopped. I kept meaning to quilt it but other things got in the way, gifts, learning to make clothes, work, other quilts but probably the biggest reason is that I hate quilting , the process of shoving that whole quilt under my small machine is just something I don’t like dealing with. I get stressed etc.

So when I finally had enough of it cluttering my space I manically putting it together. There were a few problems which I had forgotten about such as ..


How the frigg did that happen???I did loose my princess but I used her in the quilt label in the end.

I had plans for this, I wanted to free motion flowers and vines into this. Two years ago I bought a book on free motion and I downloaded a course on Craftsy. Come 2015, I’m still crap at free motion and I don’t think I’ve even watched my Craftsy course.. I started with a few different ideas, half which I left all over the quilt. I really had no idea what to do with it. I hate quilting, did I mention that?

Problems?, Look at my crappy lines which were a rookie mistake. I spent ages on un-picking all sorts of wonky lines and dodgy hearts. Sewing the hearts were as decorative as I got and it wasnt easy as I did it with a normal sewing foot (free motion was too messy and my walking foot is making all kinds of weird sounds).



But I sewed the hearts first which any quilter will tell you is a massive mistake. Work from the middle out when quilting, not here there and everywhere. Rookie mistake and caused puckering everywhere. So much so one square so so bad that I had to cover the bunching by appliquéing a bit of old t-shirt over the top.


I’m not overly happy with it,  I made so many mistakes I’m not sure what was going on. I think I was in a rush and knowing I should have really been working on another quilt was my undoing.

I finally made my own binding (for the first time on this scale), I made way too much. I also realised I need to buy a bias binding maker.


Anyway so now it’s not stashed in various corners of my house. I’m just wondering how long it would take for Rockette to get food all over it.


On the street where you lived

Whats a house? If you look at pictures of my street it has hardly changed in 100 years. The only difference is that where there was a large garden there is now a car park, but that’s it.

I was trawling google earth street view in Victoria, Australia to try to find an old gym for another blog entry, but while  was there I thought I’d look up my Nan’s old address which I spent much of my bored childhood.

I wish I was prepared for what I saw.


My grandparents bought the place in the 60’s and lived in it until the mid 90’s. to them it must have been the Australian dream that they immigrated for, and then properly wogged (Australian terms) it up.

The brickwork, the concrete swans, the fancy iron work. I’m being unfair in a way it was mild really. What was different to the rest of the street was the carefully manicured lawn and flower beds in the front (my nan thought they were more posh, a nice front yard will do that to a person).

My favorite thing was the building to the side of the house that looked like a garage that was really a small flat. The trick was to put a rolling garage door in front of the brick wall. I even lived in that “garage” for 3 months in 1980 while my father was building an alpine style wog mansion of his own.

I have memories of peeling broad beans for my grandfather (child slave labour), keeping my distance from snoopy the psychopathic dog that was tied up, the first place I was dropped on my head, (my uncle is still boasting that he dropped me) and longing to gome home so I can watch T.V, instead of having to listen to the Maltese news REALLY LOUDLY on the radio while my Nan sang oh my Marie. The only entertainment we got was watching my Nan pop out her false teeth and cross her eyes at the same time.

So when my parents left us there over the weekend, the night would go as follows.

Sit at the table which was covered in a thick fabric table-cloth followed by a further 2 plastic cloths and DONT MOVE. This could go on for hours, brace yourself.

Dinner is served,  Some randomly bland Maltese food (funny that, it was terribly bland but now I miss it).  Have to spend the whole meal having to listen to my uncle, mouth full going “Aye this is bloody better than that bloody Mc Donalds shit”

Someone would break wind, someone would complain about another’s foot odour, lots of loud conversation, which to the outsider would appear to be a fight but was just really about who was going to put their car in the driveway first. For dessert we may have had some low joule orange jelly with my grandfather, because “she has the diabetes”.

Saturday night entertainment, Maltese style!

Sometimes this meal would be followed by a car ride to church in my grandfathers old ford with no seatbelts. Just holding on for dear life in hoping that the car doesn’t roll. (On one occasion our aunt took us in her car to 7-11 instead of church, that was the highlight not only was she cool and 19 but she had a toy gremlin in her car). But in most cases it just meant that we had to listen to the rosary said in Maltese. We didn’t need to participate, just sit there. DONT MOVE. I can still recite it today.

After that was done with we could watch a bit of TV, we were at the mercy of either a foreign film (because my nan used to “like them having the sex”) , variety show “Hey Hey Its Saturday” or whatever the Saturday night movie was on normally John Wayne. If my uncle was in it would be some horror film like Peter Jackson’s Brain Dead (Yep I saw that when I was much too young). We have to sit on the itchy floor because we were not allowed to sit on the plastic covered sofa’s . That was were the massive old doll sat.

kinda like this but much more upmarket

If she was in a good move she would put the special light decoration on (still keeping the plastic cover over it) I still love these I keep threatening to buy one but Mr. Crafty also threatens to kick me and the light out if that happened.

For a good nights sleep..

Then finally when it was time for bed, bed being  an outdoor banana chair with 6 blankets above and blow. A blanket sandwich if you will. This was most welcomed in the summer.

I looked forward to the mornings only really when for my nan would heat up milk on the stove and have real branded Special K. It is still one of  my favorite breakfasts today.

I sounds like a right bore, and it was. But it makes up who we are. All the boring bits just build up character,  I had many funny times there too. Probably eek them out in other entires.

So as I said earlier I was looking for an old gym in the area and thought I’d look at my nan’s place now.

HOLY CRAP!!!!!!! Stomach turning. What the fuck had they done to it??? I felt sick, sad and tearful at the same time. The whole street looked the same except this house. I’m so glad my grandparents never had google maps when they were alive, this would have crushed them.

All the hours my grandfather put into his front yard, all gone! I mean how dd they get the white concrete swan out? (It may still be there it’s so overgrown). Who rips out the fence and the gates?? And the side gate has been replaced with some dodgy fence? The hours my nan spent mopping the beautiful gold tiles on the front veranda I can only imagine are dirty and grim now. It was a lovely not too badly designed early 1960’s home. Now it looks unloved.

I fairness it looks better than the neighbours front yards,(unless you like front lawns made out of concrete) but that still doesnt make it right.

I know it’s no longer ours, but that bit of history has been erased, a shadow of its former self. It’s just very sad.

Here is a  good example of ethnic design…my nan’s place wasn’t as bad as this.

Baking for Wonderland

The final part of the Alice In Wonderland trilogy is here, the baking one.

I started to think about what would be fitting for a mad hatter tea party.  I really could have done with Heston Blumenthal mojo. I was still hanging onto my library copy of Sprinklebakes and there is quite a bit of AIW recipes in  there, but they were so ambitious and required time & skills that sadly I had to by pass most of the lovely things in the book. I did make the mushrooms again , the kids weren’t impressed but the adults appeared to be. (Unless they were being polite).

For the tea party savory bit I wanted to keep it simple as I was feeding both kids and adults (I don’t like going to a kids party and not be offered a sandwich or a cuppa) so the plates included ham sandwiches in the shape of love hearts,  Chesse sandwiches in the shapes of stars, cucumber in love hearts again (they didn’t hold very well), little peanut butter and jam rolls (a revelation to some) and the Australian classic fairy bread which is just cake decorating sprinkles on buttered white bread.

party food

The obligatory mini pizza’s, sausage rolls and bread sticks made an appearence. As well as what I thought great idea of getting some cups of sliced cucumber, peppers and carrots with hummus in the middle, surprisingly these went untouched..what a waste….my fault. Now looking at the above picture someone does have their hands on it, but that’s as far as that went.

After a good 45 min break as the kids were too full for pudding, I did the uncomplicated fruit kebab’s, using biscuit cutters to cut out the shapes. (which only 2 kids wanted but the adults dove at them) , and frogs in ponds Freddo frog in jelly. Some kids didn’t want them either I sat I the sun finishing all the left over jelly.

The baking


I had my baking day on the Friday, it started at 9am and went through till 10.30 pm, and not without at least two disasters. As I stood there mixing some stupid icing at 9pm I thought really why bother? Kids don’t care, they would probably prefer the stuff that came out of a box, why am I doing this?  I was hot, tired and woeful.

I normally make a massive ambitious list of amazing ambitious bakes and then as baking day comes around I slowly being cross things out when I’m ground down & pressed for time . This year I knew better. My list was simple

Mushrooms (not majic)

I really ned to take the course how to use your camera phone like a competent person ASAP.

I really ned to take the course how to use your camera phone like a competent person ASAP.

I think it was more about the look than the taste. It was a cup and a half of cornflour to half a cup of flour, which stuck to the roof of my mouth. I tried to reverse the measurements and they just tasted like bread. Amateur hour. I stuck to the original for the party.



Cupcakes melting in the sun

Classics hummingbird with a strawberry milkshake flavour and a  Smarties surprise on the inside. I used an apple core to make the holes but because the sponge is so moist it was difficult and really mushy. Another problem here was overnight the Smarties went soft and they didn’t tumble out like I hoped. It was so disappointing, sponge itself was fine.


After Tuesday we couldnt deal with the leftovers and 4 of them went in the bin.



I’m sure I’ve written about the Dan Lepard Lamington recipe before. I made them in mini loaf tins, as I had done once before and again they failed. When I tested them in the oven the skewer came clear but when they came out of the pans they were fricking doughy and undercooked. I’m sure this happened last time. I had to make a meringue for this flipping recipe, well NO MORE!!! I quickly made a hummingbird vanilla batch and popped them into mini circular tins. Worked a treat. I sliced them and put normal jam in the middle and used the same Dan Lepard recipe for the chocolate and coconut “icing”. These turned out to be the best lamingtons I’ve probably ever eaten , they were superb!! Kids didn’t eat them oh well more for me.


I normally make these every year. But this year I failed terribly.

I hate using silicone bakeware. They turned out tough (somehow I over worked the batter) and sweaty. I tried to save them by making some icing which refused to dry and then as to laugh in my face, then melted indoors ! I didn’t serve them out of embarrassment and then chucked them out. Bloody mini doughnuts. There is no photos of this shameful chapter.

The Cake


Sorry it’s the only picture we have! Is in a wasteland of uneaten food. (kicking myself I didnt think to take a decent shot)

I realised as I was decorating it that  I had put very little thought into what I was going to do with it. I had minimalist Ombre in my head (which in other words little icing) which drove me nuts at 10pm on Thursday night.  I Bought some toppers from eBay and not photographed is the paper bunting I had on top with skewers.


The icing was much easier than last years frozen take. I found a brilliant tutorial,  I just wish I had a better scraper, I was using one normally reserved for bread making.

It was the normal Hummingbird recipe (I have really got my moneys worth out of Cake Days) in rainbow form. So made double quantities and the separated each layer by weight and mixed each one with a different colour.


I had to make the final purple layer again (which became red) as it ended up really lopsided in the oven , god knows how. Then some (quite a bit) of the batter leaked out onto the bottom of the oven too. Now there is bloody black burnt cake on the floor of the oven, I can’t be bothered cleaning it up. I’ll just leave it to cremate.

I sent it home with the guests and he next day got text messages about how great it was, so I’m happy.

Again sorry for the below par photography…

Thus concludes our triology.

Magical world of Alice in Wonderland



Rockette’s decided last year that her birthday theme this year was going to be Alice In Wonderland. I’m not sure why she picked this as it was way before the 150 year celebrations had begun. She has that gift of picking stuff just before it gets cool.

This year I wanted to make the backyard magical, like the parties I never had (mine were always at Mc Donalds). I started planning a few months ago, stopped and then panicked about two weeks before that I hadn’t done enough.

I was going for thrifty Pintrest. Looks amazing but cheap as chips.

The paper flower pom-pom things were Ebay buys from Singapore or China or Hong Kong I can’t remember but I got 40 for around £11.


I normally don’t like putting picture of Rockette in here but there is a severe lack of photos with any detail without her in them. Dont worry, there were other kids there

All of the print outs were free templates that I had been putting on Pintrest for ages.  And the giant cards were a quid online.


That’s not even a picture of the completed table! I did want to put more china on there but the china was on loan and there was going to be 5, 5 year olds and a baby so probably not a good idea.


The books were borrowed from my work the napkins were 40p from Ikea and the frame I think was from Poundland.


Other things were picked up in sales. Like that beautiful lampshade garland was £1.99 in the Lakeland sale and the straws I bought ages ago from Waitrose for 49p a pack. Giant Flamingos a quid from the evil amazon.

The most expensive garland was a ball one that I bought from Tiger which I thought had a £1 price tag and was 3. I was ripped.

In the last blog I wrote about the cushions I made for the seating and the table was a tenner from Argos, we just sawed down the legs. But you get what you pay for  as half way though the party one of the kids took it down. But it served it’s purpose and did well.

It was hot that day, one of the hottest days the UK has had this year. The kids were melting by hour number 3.


The sad thing about the party is that I spent so much time running in between the house and outside getting food and drinks etc that I felt like I missed a lot of the party. Rockette’s Nan dressed up as the Queen of hearts and did all of the party games, which was a godsend.

Before I knew it, it was over . But at least I could get out of my Tweedledumb costume which consisted of a printed t-shirt from e-bay (2 for 14 quid) and a hot thick red winter skirt (it was all I had). All the kids appeared to have  a good time which is the main thing.

The joy of a birthday wreath

This will be part 1 of 3 for birthday news I’ll start with the easiest one making a birthday wreath.


I’ve made one of these before for christmas but that time it was with wool . As last time the idea for this  came from the book Everything Oz  by  Read-Baldrey & Leech. It is so easy and fast to make I think I finished it during an episode of Taskmaster (half an hour in earth time).

It’s not rocket science, just pin the back of the ribbon to the polystyrene ring. (note I bought my ribbon at 79p a meter and then found 15 meters in Tiger for a pound. It’s worth shopping around).

Then wrap it round until they meet.  I then cut down some fake flowers I bought (man fake flowers are expensive) and secured the base of each one with dress pins.  I had some mini cards so in they went and then I glued some photocopy pictures of Alice In Wonderland  to card stock and secured them with dress pins too.


The number 5 was reduced in Hobby craft so I just pined that one to the back.



I think it works better than the crappy foil banners you buy at every card store.

Non stop cushion action.



I’ve been like a woman possessed. With a week till Rockette’s Alice in Wonderland birthday party, I looked at my outdoor seating and sighed  at the two weathered kids chairs out there. Which wasn’t going to be enough, So I had the idea to make a load of cushions and then make a short flat table japanese style table to put them around.

I like making cushions, they’re easy you can use any fat quarter fabric you like and I never measure anything , I just rest the fabric on top and cut around the sides where the seams meet up.

After making 4 plain ones (and giving a lesson to my friend on how to make a 5th), I got bored.  I started to jazz it up. The first one was from this months Love quilting and patchwork magazine.



It was the first time I had used Bondaweb for ages, I forgot how much fun it was to use. It was all attached with the iron and then free motioned for detail and security. I’m normally very uncomfortable with free motion, but as  the look was “messy” this suited me just fine.



Then I got addicted so I cut out a love heart template and fussy cut some hearts, then Bondawebed and free motioned them too.



For the birthday girl I picked up some beautiful Alice in Wonderland fabric from Japan, used the Bondaweb again and then sewed the ric rac around that.  I did this bit before I had to go to work , but I wish I hadn’t. It was 6am I must have been a bit groggy and I ironed the I slightly left of the middle. Once that stuff is on you can’t  get it off. (or maybe you can but I’m not sure how). I did think of maybe adding strips to the side, but after making 8 cushions I couldn’t be bothered.






Oh the craftiness doesn’t let up this week. Rockette wanted people to dress up, I nominated myself for tweedle dumb but I look so bad in yellow that is not going to happen.

Cooking book perusal.

A few days ago Nigella Lawson’s Nigella Express arrived. I had wanted it for a while despite all of the meat recipes in it. Putting it on the shelf with my other books I knew yet again there was going to be no room, and that I had to rearrange. I swear each time I re-arrange them more books go out than go in.

I have my cooking books in 4 separate places around the house. The kitchen ones are the ones most likely to have the pages stuck together, the remainder of cooked meals on the spines and all dog-eared, these are my cooking bibles.


I say couldn’t live without, But looking at it now some of them are just there to keep the authors together. While were here, Jamie’s 30 minute meals are really an hour and a half.


Whereas my front room is divided into two,  wedged in between 7″ singles and art books, my cook books  have been thoughtlessly disposed because of kitchen overspill and it wouldn’t fit on the other side. I feel a bit sorry for this lot, the uncared for.


The other side holds more of the special occasion stuff. Making a birthday cake, or some unusual American cookies/ tray bakes, more Jamie Oliver (for the record I would like to say these are not my copies) and if I ever feel like it , Jamaican cooking. (I used one of these books once the recipe asked for 8 scotch bonnets, I wisely put in was inedible the heat blew my head was the only time I have had to make another meal.)


Here is also where I keep a few  of the book I like to read. Saying this I realise my history of biscuits is missing from this photo..mild panic..where is that?? What is there is a great book called “Eating the Elvis Presley way” which was written with help from his cook. Reading it with today in a world full of Man vs Food it doesn’t seem too bad. I suppose in Elvis’ case it was quantity not quality.

Nigella Christmas is another bible but It refuses to be constrained to the kitchen shelves. I also have a soft spot for Nigel Slater’s Appetite as it was the first book I bought when I moved out of home, It’s a good book to cook from when your skint.

Then there is under the stairs , I’m not even sure whats under there Gordon Ramsey, Tana Ramsey,Madhur Jaffery, some Delia (hopefully my history of biscuits book which for the record is called “A nice cup of tea and a sit down” ).

I should get rid of them (bar the biscuit book of course) but I don’t know if I can bear it. Even though I’m never going to make pork scratching or some dessert that I know wont work (you can tell the type). But say if I do need them in the future?…just say…

I’ve also kept in the depths my beautiful 1956 immaculate copy of Betty Crocker’s home cooking but this is for purely self-preservation reasons. It’s a thing of beauty it has home advice and crazy recipes. I should dig it out  and share the highlights.

When I was a kid I used to spend hours going through my mum’s dodgy cooking books, one in particular had a middle-aged lady doing a strip tease with balloons throughout the book. I’ve still no idea what that had anything to do with cooking with Pineapples and Marino cherries, since then I’ve had a fascination with cookbooks. But because Mum wouldn’t let me cook when I was younger (except one massive blue pancake I made when I was 8, disgusting) I didn’t know how to cook until my early 20’s thanks to Jamie Oliver’s Naked Chef series. From there I’ve amassed quite a collection, which some good, bad and ugly books.

Mum collected the menu planners, I really spent a lot of my childhood on cold brown tiles flicking loving through these.

I heard somewhere that people only use 5 recipes out of each book. I’m sure that’s true, probably even less for me as I bypass all the meat recipes, although sometimes I’ll try a Quorn substitute with mixed results.
I tend to find many of these books rather indulgent on the writers part in some cases putting in completely impractical recipes for any person with only an oven, hot plate and microwave to hand. Take for  example Yotam Oottolenghi recipe for vine leaf, herb and yogurt pie from Plenty. Looks really unappetising. That’s certainly not in my top 5 for that book.


Whereas some of them have fallen foul of fashion, the ones published in the 90’s look so passe now. I’ve picked on poor Nigel Slater’s the 30 minute cook, only because I didn’t have the time to go through all of my books. I know under the stairs something worse is lurking.



The sausages look gross and dry, in fact they look more like vegetarian sausages.


I’m not sure if that is the baked Aubergine recipe but I certainly hope it’s not.Its probably just “random vegetables I deep-fried after I went to the farmers market”

I guess your quite pressed for time in 30 minutes, and it’s probably more realistic than Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meals (yeah right Jamie, if I had a “team” chopping up all my veg then maybe that would be attainable).

Sadly it doesn’t stop there. I wish it did and I would never need to buy another cook book again but my wish list is full. Nigella has a new one coming out and lately I’ve been interested in naked cake decorating , which omits massive amounts of icing , stripped back beautiful kind. And there are books and books on American cooking and baking I’m always eyeing up. Not so much to make necessarily but more to read out of interest. Then forgetting the books I’ve had for months from the library which I should really get my own copy to mess up like Heather Baird’s Sprinklebakes and Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook.

I’m just going to have to find more room.

Now here’s a thing I’ve never done before… In the comments if you would like to share pictures of your piles of used and unused cooking books to the rest of the world that would be amazing!  I would love to see them!!! Go on, get snapping!!!