With the wind howling in the trees and the sky dark and ominous, I walked my kids to school this morning with a sense of sadness. Sadness that I would be ‘letting them go’ again…a large part of me being detached and sent off in two directions…to wonder at the amazing world we live in and excitedly tell their friends all about their Christmas presents.
As I walked home dodging the rain I realised that it was back to ‘reality’ for me. No more hiding in the soft and comfortable family Christmas but back to the harsh reality of cold dark days and my hate of January. If I am quiet this month then please forgive me. I find January hard! And this January I have set myself a momentous task. To create my own website, rather than rely on Blogger. So, combined with cooking I will be building that, which may not leave much time to write about what I have been cooking!
Talking of cooking I received two new cookbooks for Christmas…Save with Jamie by Jamie Oliver, and It’s All Good by Gwyneth Paltrow. I thought I would give you a quick review of them…
I have to be honest, I was pretty unsure about being told how to cook by a slim and beautiful actress who set off a whole ‘fad’ gluten-free diet. And upon trying her vege dumplings recipe my preconceptions were confounded by her irritating certainty that x amount of gluten-free flour blend (un-named brand) would require x amount of water to make the dumpling wrappers. Anybody who cooks with gluten-free flours will know that all gluten-free flours behave differently and that unless you are specifying a certain brand you cannot ever, not ever, be certain of the amount of liquid it will absorb!! So, you can imagine the amount of swearing in my kitchen when my sore eczema riddled hands were covered in sticky gloop that I managed to cover much of the kitchen in whilst trying to rectify the situation.
Having overcome that issue…and the tedious process of actually making 30 dumpling wrappers (no I didn’t make it to 30, I admitted defeat after about 20 with sticky goo in my hair and flour covering the kitchen) and altering the cooking process, the taste was amazing and even the kids had to agree that they were yummy despite their reservations!
Having also made a soup and having tasted fish cakes made using a recipe in the book I have to admit that the recipes do make very tasty meals, even if some do require some major tweaking to get right. However, with some vague instructions, some that are down-right irritating (don’t worry, I won’t repeat myself!) combined with annoying photos (of her), ‘wacky’ ingredients and being written for Americans (nothing wrong with that if you are American…I just happen to be British!), it is not my favourite book. Having said that there are some great ideas within it and you will no doubt be finding recipes on my blog that have been inspired by her! My verdict of the book would be that it is not for the novice cook or the faint hearted, but if you need a bit of gluten and dairy-free inspiration then it is worth a peek!
I felt a lot happier with my copy of Save with Jamie. Being a huge Jamie fan I had high hopes for this book and so far it has not let me down, unlike his ‘Great Britain’ book that I was not inspired by at all.
I firstly love the concept of the book…to save money. Many of the recipes use the left-overs from a large roast dinner which is perfect for me because that is how I like to cook meat. We eat it occasionally and when we do we buy good quality stuff.
The instructions are easy to follow and do not require too many ‘crazy’ ingredients and the resulting meals are very tasty. It is easy to substitute ingredients to make the recipes gluten-free and dairy-free (and I am sure for other free-from diets too).
Along with the recipes there are some useful tips on how to save money and I have learnt quite a bit about what to do with left-over food and stuff that is going out of date or past its best. It is like a refreshed war-time cookbook when everyone was conscious of waste!
My overall verdict, certainly one to buy if you feel comfortable making adaptions to recipes to make them ‘freefrom’.
What did you get for Christmas? Any good cookbooks that you would like to recommend? Your views on these two cookbooks? The next on my list to buy is ‘Sourdough: From pastries to gluten-free wholegrain breads’ by Mardewi Yoke.
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