Wednesday 16 July 2014

Cook It Up - A Cookbook Challenge

Cook it up Challenge

I've been meaning to write this post for about a week and haven't got around to it. I'm still settling into the first few days of taking care of two boys on my own, but now I finally have thirty seconds to myself so I can actually sit down and write about this awesome challenge being hosted by Trish of Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity. Here's what she says about the challenge:
What: Pull those cookbooks off the shelves–you know, the ones with pages you can turn–and use them! You can outline how you’d like to proceed–one cookbook a month? Or three recipes a month from any cookbook? Or even check out new cookbooks from the library. You make the rules!
When: I will put up a linky on the first Saturday of the month (I meant for this post to publish last Saturday…). Write your post whenever you’d like (and if you’d like), but don’t forget to come link up.
Where/How: Presumably your blogs but no worries if you’d rather just post on twitter or instagram (Tag me! @TriniCapini). Or just come back here at the beginning of the month and comment. I think you’ll have better luck if you blog but I also don’t want anyone to stress.
Why: Because if you’re like me, you have a giant stack of cookbooks that are collecting dust. I’m bad about searching the internet for a specific recipe rather than looking at my own cookbooks. Let’s put our cookbooks to use!
I've decided on one book per month as a starting point, given that I'm still trying to work out how the whole 21 month old plus newborn plus cooking dinner thing is going to work! I have a really silly amount of cookbooks (like, over fifty...) but I've tried to pick the ones I've either never cooked from or would like to cook from much more regularly. Here's what I've got!
I feel like British food has a bad name and I don't think it's necessarily deserved, so I've collected over the years a few books focusing on the food of our little island. The Great British Food Revival is the book which goes with the series that was on TV a few years back, where well -known chefs pick their favourite British ingredient and then put together a few recipes based around it. I bought it brand new in our local independent bookshop years ago but have yet to actually cook from it. This will be my motivation! The Hairy Bikers' Food Tour of Britain is also the companion to a TV series, and I also have yet to cook from it, but considering that it's divided into sections according to geography, with recipes focusing on the produce of each region, and there is a whole chapter devoted to Kent and its' produce, I really have no excuse not to be cooking from this book more often. 
To counteract the British I picked my next two books. The Book of Jewish Food I got for Christmas and haven't cooked from at all yet. Jewish food has always fascinated me - I have no idea why - and this book is great as it has loads of background information to all the recipes. I'm excited to step outside of my culinary comfort zone a little with this one! Miss Masala I picked up in a charity shop primarily because it was pretty, and also because during a discussion about Rick Stein's Indian cookbook, Rhys had mentioned that it might be nice to try to get some cookbooks on the food of different countries which were actually written by a person from that country, and so voila! I've been flipping through this book for ages now as it reads more like a textbook/memoir than a cookbook, and I really like that it has a lot less of the generic things you would associate with Indian cooking, and a lot more things that actual Indian people eat. 
Finally there's The River Cottage Cookbook. Hugh Fearnley - Whittingstall, despite his ridiculously hyphenated surname, is pretty much my favourite TV chef. I love how committed he is to growing his own and using local produce and foraging! Because of him I no longer blink an eyelid when I walk past the butcher's van and see half a pig hanging in it. We have The River Cottage Family Cookbook and I cook from it all the time, but I've not made very much from the original cookbook upon which he made his name, so I will be rectifying that! While I'm not a massive Nigella fan, I do like her books, mostly because most of her recipes involve stupid things that nobody ever has in their house and I find it amusing to try to find them in the supermarket/work out what on earth they are so I can think up a similar substitution! How to Eat has been on my shelf since I worked in an Oxfam bookshop six years ago, and I think I've cooked from it maybe twice? I feel like I should discover if there's anything great in it. 
So that's the six. One a month, but I may well make more than one thing from the one I'm cooking from that month, depending on the kind of month I'm having! I'll probably be starting with The River Cottage Cookbook and will tie my posts in with the weekend cooking meme :-) 
Additionally I have these two kids cookbooks which were recently given to us that I plan to use on a weekly basis to find things which I can involve Benji in the making of. They don't really count because the recipes are incredibly simple and the kind of thing I'd be making anyway, but they provide inspiration, and there may well be some new cool stuff I'll put into a post, so I've put them in!

So that's my lot! Anybody else taking part or cooked from any of my books? Any recipe recommendations?


  1. I am a shameful cookbook collector, but only use the same favourite recipes. Most seem to be cake-based cookbooks. Plus I've got a folder full of those free recipe cards you can pick up at supermarkets and have made maybe 2. Really ought to do something about that! Good luck with your cookbook challenge. Let us know your favourites.

  2. I have no cookbook! *weeps*
    I LOVE to cook, but I eyeball everything and season to taste.
    I've heard of the Flavor Bible, but I don't know if that's a book about cooking, or an actual cookbook. *shrug*

  3. I'm such a lazy cook. Mostly I cook the simplest thing I can find - tomato spaghetti with green beans, or breaded chicken with broccoli - or use tried-and-tested family recipes, like my stepdad's beef and mushroom stroganoff. It's just not worth cooking 'properly' for one; ironically, I used to cook a lot more at university, where I had a wonderful market to walk to for fresh fish, meat and vegetables, and was always cooking for two. Plus, I have to admit, it's nice to have a lower per-serving cost, especially right now when I haven't had any income for nearly 7 months. Every little helps! :(