Friday, 18 January 2013

From the Bookshelf...

Before Christmas, I decided that I wanted to give the BakesWell blog a bit more variety in terms of content, so that it can be used as a resource for you beautiful people out there, instead of just a diary of my baking thoughts. With this idea in mind, I've decided that I will run a series of posts on here called 'From the Bookshelf'' which will discuss the books from my collection that I find most useful - and boy do I have a collection of cookery books!

#1 The Kitchen Diaries II by Nigel Slater

After much heavy hinting, I received a copy of this for Christmas. I already own Nigel Slater's first volume - The Kitchen Diaries which is well loved and often returned to for seasonal inspiration. On Boxing Day, cheese and crackers in hand, I decided to dive in. After about five minutes, I knew that this book will be one of the most useful books in my collection - you see it's the go-to-guide for learning about ingredients, using ingredients in seasonal way and is packed full of advice on kitchen kit. 

You can still read the book as a cookery diary, flicking to the page with the day's date to see what Nigel cooked on that day and if it tickles your fancy. However, you can also use the book in a more thoughtful way, to gain insight on how to use up leftover ingredients hanging around in the fridge. Living in a more cost-conscious way is one of my aims for this year and I have already turned to this book several times since Christmas, to find ways of using up my leftover veg without it feeling like a second best meal - the cheese and leek pie below is a perfect example of this.

However, the aspect of this book which sets it apart from most is the advice on kitchen kit. I learned from the book that Nigel advises us not to buy expensive woks, but to buy a cheap wok 'made of steel no thicker than a ten-pence piece', so that it cooks the ingredients quickly at a high heat. It is this sort of unpretentious guidance, free from the view that equipment needs to be expensive to be effective, which is so liberating. It is easy to clutter the kitchen with gadgets which are expensive, cumbersome and only perform one task, so it is useful to be reminded that the art of good cooking is the marriage of ingredients you like, cooked simply with care and attention. 

As Julia Childs once said: 

"In department stores, so much kitchen equipment is bought indiscriminately by people who just come in for men's underwear." 


This book is well worth the money invested in it as it will serve you well for many years, is a pleasure to look at in terms of the beautiful photography that graces its pages and though it's hardly pocket sized, it sits beside my bed so that I can read it with a brew and a biscuit for a bit of bedtime inspiration... Rock n' Roll eh!

Becky BakesWell x

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