I’m in Germany for a couple of days, so posts may be a bit limited. Mainly because I shall be overcome with indecision at breakfast each day, with the choice of 6 butters, 6 other spreads, 8 breads and 30 different jams. And there’s the selection of loose tea, which I must count properly tomorrow but probably reaches somewhere around the 30 mark as well.
Hard to believe it, another year has passed, and now I’m waking up with a teenage daughter in the house. Every year has brought its own challenges and laughs, spills and thrills, and I’m sure the year ahead will be no different.
But as the teenage years are with us, and no doubt ever more independence, then I thought it was definitely time to think about the cookbook library I would start building for MGG for when she wants to get into the kitchen, or has a kitchen, however tiny, of her own. Not quite my inheritance tracks, but these would be the cookbooks I’d gift her:
Tamasin’s Kitchen Bible – maybe by the time she’s ready for this it might be back in print, but I love this book. I turn to it for reminders on basic recipes, for inspirations on lazy days and high days, and just for when I’m wondering what to cook. I love Tamasin’s writing, and the recipes are easy to follow, and so couldn’t be a better set up for anyone who wants to cook good food.
How to Eat – we were always team Nigella here, and there are plenty of her cookbooks on my shelves. I had to think about which one, and it could have been Kitchen, it could have been Domestic Goddess, but for covering all kinds of cooking occasions, from cooking for one to cooking for a crowd, then I love How to Eat. I love the whole ethos behind it, one I’m fairly sure MGG has embraced.
Ottolenghi – this is in here because it’s a really well used book in our kitchen. Like the previous two, there are splattered pages and stuck together pages, and memories of happy mealtimes. I’d like MGG to have this one for days when she needs to put something together quickly for a group of people, and doesn’t want to spend all her time in the kitchen, but still wants amazing flavours. It would also teach her to maintain an interesting store cupboard of flavours!
Clinton St Baking Company – for sentimental reasons, and because she’ll need the secret of my awesome pancakes and incredible raspberry jam. Of course they’re not my recipes, but I’ve made them lots to rave reviews from her, and I’m sure she’d want to continue the tradition. Not to mention we have some great memories together of a couple of fantastic breakfasts there too.
Friends at My Table – what I hope MGG will have picked up from me is that even the simplest ingredients, cooked well and with love, shared with friends and loved ones make for the best kind of meals, that even the best Michelin starred meal with the wrong people can’t hold a candle to. This book is entirely about those kind of meals, one not necessarily for every day but for days when you want to break bread with those you love. I wish her many of those.
So, another year gone, many meals enjoyed, including no poor experiences with tofu. I’m looking forward in the year ahead to showing her some of my favourite places to eat in Hong Kong, and exploring great eating in Australia. And I’m sure there’ll be some great days of good meals here too, and adventures to relive.
This is really for my team, who know how much I love to cook and bake, which makes them a little concerned about sharing any of their own baking. So just to show that I’m not invincible in the kitchen, and am having a bad run of things, these are the things that have just gone a bit awry…
1. New Thai green curry paste cooks an awful lot hotter than the one from Sainsburys. It might have helped if I’d read that it was 30% green chillies, which might have been a bit of a giveaway. I saved it a day later by taking all the chicken out the sauce, then dousing it in another tin of coconut milk.
2. I baked a gammon and chicken pie. I rolled the pastry too thick. Nicely cooked top, rather raw in the middle. Oh, and the filling burnt. Saved by eating the top and middle only.
3. I made rice pudding in the slow cooker. It was gorgeous at one stage, beautiful and creamy, vanilla studded. The recipe said turn off the slow cooker and leave it in there. Returned half an hour later to find a pretty solid lump. Not so nice. We ate some of it, sloshed with more cream. Not so bad.
4. Joint challenge of a birthday and a need for a gluten free cake, thought sorted with a recipe. I turned out what appear to be two coffee and walnut pancakes.
5. I decided I’d made a fundamental mistake and not beaten the eggs and sugar for long enough, or fast enough, so I’ve made said cake again. I now have 2 slightly fluffier pancakes. This cake will now be a 4 pancake layer birthday cake, hopefully disguised with lots of buttercream, gold shimmer spray and an ice fountain.
What can you do? It’s only cooking and baking and you can always try and make something out of it. Although sometimes you just have to admit defeat. And hope you’ll get your baking mojo back soon. Really soon.
Hard to believe, here we are, Christmas Eve already. I hope you are all ready, and have fun times planned. I hope you have some time for reflection, and some time for just living in the moment and enjoying what is.
Whatever your year has held, I wish you joy and peace this Christmas. And some darn good eating!
It’s hard for me to believe that I’m waking up today the mother of a 12 year old girl. The blog has charted the many food adventures of my Mini Gourmet Girl but at turning 12, not to mention being practically the same height as me, I’m not sure that she really fits the mini moniker any more.
She is most definitely still my gourmet girl, and still a delight to eat out with and cook for. I hope that she continues to be adventurous, even though I notice a little more each year that I have to convince her not to eat with her eyes or brain, to not make her mind up before she’s tasted something.
Certainly in the last 8 months with me we’ve tried a lot of new recipes together. She’s got used to me turning out some random recipes from the slow cooker, my latest bit of kit. I think she’s forgiven me for the bad tofu dish. It was a definite attempt to convert her back from her brief dalliance with being a pescetarian.
She’s been in the blog pretty much from the start, and continues to feature on a semi regular basis. Having moved to a bigger school and the other changes of the past year then she has certainly been exposed to more people and the huge variety of people’s approach to food, which has been a learning curve. Her horror at finding children who don’t like Chinese food was hilarious.
I hope that the year ahead brings her more interesting dishes, more great eating experiences and more cooking experience too. I hope she continues to learn that food tastes best cooked with love, served with generosity of spirit and eaten with great friends. And I hope she forgives me that no matter how old, or tall she gets, she will always be my much loved Mini Gourmet Girl.
I also love the video, and wish I could track down some of the magnetic ice skaters, but so far no luck. Though I did find some naff plastic holly and a full on retro cake frill. Grandma would have approved, I think.
Anyway, enjoy, and maybe add it to your Christmas playlist, as the countdown is most definitley on to when I can appropriately play Christmas tunes!
Apparently whilst I was away there was a bit of news about a baby…oh, ok, even the French media let us know about the arrival of baby George.
I am sure there will be all kinds of commemorative tat but there are two bits that I would consider giving house space to. Firstly, and probably not much surprise, I love the tea towel from To Dry For. Can always rely on them to produce something commemorative not schmaltzy. It’s on pre-order for 22 August, and a limited edition, so get on with it if you like it.
Emma Bridgewater has a lovely mug, which you can either treat as commemorative, or if you know someone called George give it as a gift to them. Maybe if they’re a chancellor who might be changing jobs sooner than he might expect perhaps.
I’m sure there will be more but whether there will be more interesting ones I don’t know.
We made it through January, which means I think we deserve a bit of a smile. So I’ve picked some of the unofficial cookbooks that have been written by culinary fans of shows and films. Great gifts for fans of those franchises first and foremost, the food may be a pleasant surprise:
The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook – inevitable that such a hit show should have some spinoffs, I’m just surprised that there isn’t an official cookbook. Meals seem to form a significant part of the series, both above and below stairs, and this apparently includes Lady Mary’s crab canapes and Mrs Patmore’s Christmas pudding. If only there was a recipe for Lady Grantham’s acerbic wit, that would be a winner.
The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook – I know very little about Game of Thrones, not really my kind of thing but I know it was huge. The book apparently includes recipes for Direwolf Ale and Auroch Stew. Not sure Tesco stock either, but hey, you never know with their current stock situation.
The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook – something I know a lot more about, and clearly remember how many great meal scenes they managed to get into each film. Those banquets at Hogwarts were always quite something! I am sure there will be a version of Butterbeer, though chocolate covered frogs may be more tricky!
The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook – ah, other than all the smoking, this would have been a perfect time for me, and not just for all the martinis. Of course life needs a three course dinner that starts with a shrimp cocktail, moves through beef Wellington and finishes with pineapple upside-down cake. What’s not to love about a retro dinner party?
Scooby Doo: An Unofficial Halloween Cookbook – ok, this one is a bit of advance planning given that it’s for Halloween, but surely every house needs a Scooby Doo cookbook? I mean, we spend enough time wandering round looking like we don’t have a Scooby Doo…! This is definitely for the serious fan who thought they had everything Scooby related. Or a very surprising secret Santa gift.
Have a little fun this February and take life a little less seriously for a while. That is unofficial advice, of course.
Now for those of us of a certain age this works on several levels. We are quite likely to appreciate a nice cup of tea and we also get the original reference of the pun. In fact, most likely sang it in our heads as we read the poster. Personally I think it’s the perfect companion to my still unframed copy of “will you have a cup of tea now“.
So, that’s the space sorted. Hopefully. I have first dibs on this one.