Wednesday 16 October 2013

Ready, Steady, BAKE

I've always enjoyed baking, but the first time I really started to do everything from scratch was when I moved to the UK.  I was here for my first Thanksgiving away from the States in 2001 and decided to invite a bunch of people over for a big meal.  Off I headed to the store to get pumpkin and a frozen pie crust...only there weren't any cans of pumpkin...or pie crusts...Come to think of it, I couldn't find instant stuffing either...


As I worked in a book shop, I then browsed the cookbook shelves and spotted a copy of "Joy of Cooking".  I recognised it from my mother's collection of cookery books, recalling it had an extensive holiday section.  Here I found all the recipes to make my American feast, and they all worked well, giving detailed instructions.  I remember my drunken Scottish friends sitting around eating stuffing on its own, singing as they scoffed down pieces of pumpkin pie.  The roast chicken did get dropped on the floor in a dramatic fashion, but with a quick shout of "5 second rule!" all present smiled and sighed with relief that no one cared if they still ate it.  I couldn't believe anything had worked, let along worked well enough that I'd want to make the same recipes again.

Since then, more American staples have come to the shelves here, but I still prefer to make things from scratch.  My husband likes to cook, so I know if I am interrupted or get stuck doing something else, I can point him to the recipe and he can take over, which takes a lot of the pressure off.   A lot of the early baking I did was just trying to recreate the box mixes of my American youth, but now you'll find me eyeing up cafe counters and patisserie windows pondering if it is possible to recreate at home what I have seen behind glass.  

The Joy of Cooking is still my bible of cooking, my go-to source of recipes and techniques.  The other main cookbook author to creep into my heart is Nigella Lawson.  Her recipes are good, but more than that, her cookbooks are wonderful creations in themselves.  You feel like you are sitting down over a cup of coffee with her and she is sharing tips from her own box of index carded recipes.  While other chef authors will try and slip in a quick line of "simmer for 1 hour" she will tell you straight away if a recipe is a long, drawn out affair or a quick and easy cheat.  

And now Pinterest has come along, truly throwing a spanner into the works, and really opening up the recipe game.  My main fear is that all these amazing recipes that I'm pinning will one day magically disappear off the internet overnight, leaving me craving that perfect cardamom bun forever more.  So I thought I'd start blogging some of my cooking, including the recipes so that should disaster strike either my cookbook collection or Pinterest, I'll still be able to cobble together some of my recipes.

Wish me luck.


  1. I love Joy of Cooking! Do you have this one: It's, by far, my current favorite cookbook. I can't wait to read more about your recipes!

  2. Having tasted your baking, what I really wish is that you lived on this side of the Atlantic. mmmm... lemon drizzle cake