Following an out of character New Year desire to make things a little more ship shape, I took a look at my kitchen shelf, not just overflowing with cook books, but teaming with recipe clippings, ancient foodie magazines, scrap paper and, I’m sorry to admit it, old bits of food.
A clear out and a scrub down was called for. I filed the recipe clippings, threw out the old magazines and braced myself for a Cook Book Cull. Now, I hate throwing out any kind of book. I’ve talked before about the huge pile of books beside my bed and how it never seems to get any smaller. Well,I have the same problem here.
Some of these books are so old, battered and food splattered that, in the words of Nigel Slater, “I could boil them up for stock”.
The Hamlyn All Colour Cook Book – my very first cookery book given to me by my very best friend. Nothing on earth would possess me to part with this. This is the book that first taught me how to make Goulash and Ginger Biscuit roll, lurid green Scandanavian Apple Charlotte and Cornish Ham Pudding. There’s too much food emotion in this book to ever throw it in the bin.
But did I really fall in love with food that looked like this? Well, I did really wear flares, so the answer’s probably “yes”. It’s all about fashion and just because the fashion for food styling and food photography has changed it doesn’t mean that I’m never going to eat piped egg mayonnaise ever again, does it?
Having said that, I suspect nothing will ever possess me to make something like this. Well, maybe Eggs en Gelee might make an appearance at a ’70s party.
However, as I spent hours trawling through all my beloved cook books and the new ones I was given for Christmas…
I realised that amongst the 85 or so books that I own, some are hardly used. Perhaps I’ve tried out one recipe; perhaps I’ve never even managed that. It’s too easy to get into a cooking rut, always making what’s quick and easy, cooking the simple stuff that you know everyone likes. But sometimes I think you have to push those boundaries, step outside the box and educate both yourself and those around you.
So it’s my New Year’s resolution to make the most of the books that I own and spend some time ferretting out the hidden gems. I’d like to break the confines of the fussy eater in my house and show the hardened carnivore that veggie food can be exciting AND delicious. Perhaps I can take those recipes of the ’70s and turn them into something 21st century.
And hopefully I’ll be able to share some of that food love here.