Recipe resources and the pressure of Christmas

  |   Cooking, Food   |   No comment

Dozens of cookery books on my shelves, more in the loft, and the rabbit hole of the internet this Xmas. Dare I dive in for some special inspiration or just keep it simple?

I am very proud of my recipe book collection; from the 1956 Penguin paperback edition of Elizabeth David’s “A Book of Mediterranean Food” that my father bought for my mother just after they were married, to my latest purchase “Wahaca, Mexican Food at Home”, by Thomasina Myers.


from the Eggs and lunches chapter, “A Book of Mediterranean Food”, E. David, 1956

My mother made diligent notes and coloured in the illustrations and served Aioli and Boeuf a la Mode a la Provencale in pre-1960s West Yorkshire.


From my father to my mother

There is also the entire range of J Sainsbury hardback cookery books published between 1978 and 1986, written by stalwart, modest and innovative Home Ecconomists such as Carole Handslip whose great skill was clear communication and a willingness to let the food speak for iteself. Then came Delia and the domination of the celebrity chef.


I even have a few volumes of my own recipes developed when I was catering for Rock Stars in the late 90s. But which to use? Or should I go digital?


Can you spot the name drop?

Nothing is grabbing me so far and there are only 4 days until Christmas. Should I be more animated and agitated than this? Is there more out there on the interwebs or is there nothing new under the sun?

Well, the truth is I always see the Christmas preparations as an Emperor’s New Clothes event: I cannot fathom why so many people are running themselves so ragged and exerting so much pressure when we have access to good food all year round. Plus, as any Pom knows, it isn’t really Christmas when you can spend the day in your bathers and you don’t have to watch the Queen’s speech while eating an entire selection pack.

Aiming high, Cordon Bleu c 1968


So this year, for one fleeting millisecond only I considered with a fraction of my brain going down the supremely simple and extremely popular road of 4 Ingredients. Queensland Housewife and entrepreneur Kim McCosker founded the 4 Ingredients empire with Rachael Bermingham. She has sold 6 million books worldwide and “created a global network of foodies.” She lives in an all-white kitchen / al fresco meals area which looks out on to the rolling Pacific Ocean. She is always smiling because she wants to save me time and money in the kitchen and she loves to shop at supermarkets. What’s not to like?

Kim deserves her success and I am not going to criticise an ounce of it, I am merely going to share with you the reason why I have gone back to my recipe book collection and committed to doing the hard graft of reading, choosing, selecting and planning. Are you ready?


I’ve just remembered I have two kilos of best lamb neck fillets vacuum packed in the fridge, so that’s the Crackling family sorted.


What are you cooking for Next Tuesday and how do you feel about it? Slightly surly and resentful or looking forward to the rich reward from your efforts in the kitchen?

Let me know, here or on the Crackling Twitter Feed






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