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.

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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.

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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 one..it was inedible the heat blew my head off..it was the only time I have had to make another meal.)

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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