One of the big advantages of being settled back in Dublin, with book shelves once again, is having all my old cookbooks to pore over and rediscover. Although I did manage to build up a fair collection in New Zealand, it couldn’t really compare to my beloved older stacks of books by Nigel Slater, Darina Allen, Tamasin Day-Lewis, Nigella Lawson and my ancient copies of the Paula Daly-written McDonnell’s Cook Books. The first and second books in this series, bought from saving up the tokens on Stork Margarine packets, were two of the first cookbooks owned by my mother.
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Last weekend being a long weekend, the Boyfriend and I decided to abandon Christchurch and open our personal camping season with a trip to the small town of Geraldine. For me, camping is a challenge to see what I can cook with limited ingredients and resources and this, the first camping trip of the year, was an opportunity not to be passed up. The night before we took off, I dug out Nigel Slater‘s Real Fast Food – the perfect camping cookbook – and started studying the recipes. So intent was I on packing the bag of food and so concentrated was the Boyfriend on getting us out the door on Saturday morning that no one thought to pack those camping essentials – the sleeping bags.
Just looking up Margaret Costa’s Four Seasons Cookery Book – a friend loaned it to me the other night and I was wondering how much it would cost to get my own copy! – and I came across this article by pedant in the kitchen, Julian Barnes. I thoroughly enjoyed his debate about and efforts to cull his collection. His “certain words of advice, all of it paid for in money” are worth taking a look at, especially number 5 – “Never buy a juice book if you haven’t a juicer” – apropos of the book that caused the whole conundrum, Nigel Slater‘s Juice. Juice is the one Slater book that I haven’t purchased but, by coincidence, I got it out of the library yesterday. And no, I don’t have a juicer either.
Quinoa is something that I’ve been meaning to cook for quite a while. About ten years, in fact, ever since I read Nigel Slater‘s Real Fast Food. He has several recipes for this protein-packed ancient grain and, as with all his writings, I was seduced by the delicious descriptions. Not seduced enough, however, to seek it out in Ireland but, since arriving in New Zealand, I’ve come across it on several occasions. Eventually, an article in Cuisine led me to buy some from Piko which…just sat in the pantry until an inquiry about it from the Boyfriend’s mother made me decide that it was time to actually try cooking it instead of admiring it every time I opened the door of the pantry.
Just taking a look at the World Food Media awards website and some of my favourite food writers appear on their list of nominees.No Nigel Slater, alas, but Stephanie Alexander, Dean Brettschneider and Lauraine Jacobs, Nigella Lawson, Anthony Bourdain and Cuisine magazine are among those nominated for the biennial awards which, apparently, are known as the food and drink industry’s equivalent to the Oscars.
“He burns his nuts, I bake my rocks”
Sharon Hearne Smith on the tricks (and Donal Skehan’s occasional mistakes!) of the food styling world.