Tuesday, 22 December 2009

book review - delia

I have always felt a bit hot and cold about Delia. Some people like her 'in charge' approach and certainly she sticks to a simple format - no Nigella-esque red silk dressing gowns raiding the fridge at midnight. But sometimes I do feel she can be a wee bit bossy. For example, in one of her recipes where you need to measure a liquid she doesn't just advocate a jug but a glass one at that. If I use a plastic one will Delia have me sitting on the naughty step?

However, I watched her Christmas TV programme and was inspired to buy her book. The recipes she showed the viewers were clear, not too difficult, and proper traditional fare for Christmas.

I found the book to be simple in layout and very clear in its instructions - not that I would expect anything less from Delia. I think what I liked about it best though is that the choice of recipes is extensive - usually in this sort of book you get several ways to cook and use left over turkey with a dull veggie option and perhaps one or two random 'not turkey' dishes that don't really sit well next to the main act of the Christmas Dinner. Not here.

The first thing is that the contents and planner are extremely helpful in theming the foods and also in reminding you of all those wee items you might forget when in a rush. I usually find other people's planners fairly pointless given I am cooking for two most of the time but I found this one helpful.

One of the features I liked best was the inclusion of snacks and nibbles that will see you through unexpected visitors or where a sit down meal is not appropriate. Parmesan twists, sausage rolls and the tomatoe tart with swiss cheese and rosemary are all easy to do and freezable - good for planning ahead or making up several lots and then using as you need them. I have never made sausage rolls and will be making some for coming home from the Nightwatch service.

The vegetarian section is strong - in fact most of the recipes I didn't identify as 'veggie' - with the luxuriant vegetable pie and oriecchiette and walnut sauce stand outs for me that will be getting a practice.

I also liked the inclusion of a hogmanay section - and one that doesn't offend a Scottish reader. Black Bun, Arbroath smokies, Cranachan, trifle and a haggis pie all feature. I am almost embarrassed to say that it is Delia who has inspired me to make Black Bun for the first time.

I would thoroughly recommend this book for anyone who is doing a Christmas Dinner for the first time, as the recipes are straightforward and without frills, but also for the experienced cook. I haven't really focused on the main event dishes as I am happy with doing a Christmas Dinner - but I found the other recipes inspiring for the rest of the Christmas period.

I usually have my folks over on Boxing Day but as we couldn't all make it that day, it will be on the 4th. And with Delia I have reached my goal of revitalising by repertoire. All of the dishes for my family will be entirely new and from Delia's excellent book. I am a picky so-and-so - so this outcome proves how much I like this book!

christmas planning

This year I have been very bad at organising for Christmas. I was going to be off on leave from the 16th but work issues meant today - the 22nd - is in fact my first day off. I had thought I could do most of my food prep on leave and so because of the changes am now very behind. I am the sort of person that finds being organised quite hard but very necessary to keep my sanity! So I have felt in a bit of a panic. But Andy has made the mincemeat and we are going to my in-laws on Christmas Day - so a lot of the pressure is now off. I will be doing a Christmas Dinner for Andy and I on Christmas Eve and trialling on Boxing Day the menu I hope to do for all my folks coming over on the 4th January.

So, to get my menus together, I have bought Delia's new Christmas book, watched her programme and Jamie Oliver's on TV and written a bunch of lists! I wanted to update my repertoire and not just trot out the old menus I usually do so have been on the hunt for some new dishes.

I am going to try several new recipes:

Chicken Liver Pate
Amazing Garlic Bread
Irish Soda Bread
Red Cabbage
Beef en Croute
Queen of Puddings

I will update as I go along!

taking delight in life

Today I Saw blog...

One of the things that sometimes Andy laughs at (but that I think everyone should try to do) is how much I still retain a childlike approach to life. I get very excited over things most would associate with being a kid - scrunching and kicking through Autumn leaves and splashing through puddles, licking the spoon after baking a cake, and being quite fascinated when I discover something new, running like a mad thing across a deserted beach being lashed by the wind and waves, skipping along a summer sun lined lane etc etc.

Part of this is enjoying all of the little stories that make up your day - the man on the train who has his flask of coffee with him each day that steams up the train window, the chat I share with the guy who I buy my morning cuppa from at the station, the sight of two older women walking down Sauchiehall Street arm in arm discussing where to go for a cuppa.

This is why I like this site - it captures what the blogger sees each day on a postcard and they send it to someone they are friends with. It reminds you of how many small moments make up your day and your life and that you can find something interesting every day. I think it is important to keep that excitement about the world around you - I don't think that being adult should be about being jaded and failing to notice anymore how cool the world can be. In fact, if anything, adults who eschew such a world view to my mind aren't adult at all - they are still stuck in that teenage stage of figuring anything that is fun is 'not cool'. Imagine being stuck there for the next 50 years!!

Friday, 11 December 2009


I love books. I think they are more than just static objects - they get passed down, sold, written in, studied and shared. And there is a blog I found called forgotten bookmarks where a guy posts up the scraps and notes and other ephemera found in the second hand books that find their way to his shop.

Sunday, 6 December 2009


I love bold, graphic and colourful patterns and marimekko do some of the best.

They do amazing fabrics but they also do ceramics. And they don't stick to one design motif - except high quality excellence - and so you can always find a design that is different and funky. Here are my favourites.

In Good Company

When I did art at school I stuck to a lot of ink line drawings with maybe a dash of one bold colour. This was mainly because I am colour blind and I found dealing with too many colours confusing. But while it started off as being about practicality I discovered I like the precision of a clear black line and how versatile it could be. Which is why I love this design.

Pikku Bo Boo

You can get lots of cool kids ceramics these days but I tend to prefer designs that are not 'brands' such as Disney characters etc. This design is bold and unisex - and stands apart from the usual gender specific or latest movie or cartoon character and therefore is timeless too.


From kids fun to serious sophistication, this black and white graphic woudl look great against my dark wood table. Usually I would steer clear of corckery where the dominant colour is black but I think this works.

Fishes [umi]

This is ace - Andy and I do diving so this appeals. This would make a good daily set - fun but still good enough if you get someone dropping by.

And, if all of that wasn't enough, they also do clothes! This dress steers well away from the usual bold use of colour but I think is really beautiful - it is silk and the draping looks exquisite. I can see myself wearing this and floating around the house serving afternoon tea on a set of Serpentine perhaps with the dotty teapot breaking up the Serpentine swirl.

Some other sites that you can get marimekko and other designs from are skandium and funktionalley along with lots of other cool stuff.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

wallpaper couture style

I love Vivienne Westwood - her designs are off the wall but also have a classic appeal. Her pirate designs, corset dresses and use of colour for me are not only beautiful but are also woman friendly - the cut of her clothes does not favour size zero and instead to my mind can be worn by any woman.

So, when I saw that Cole and Son are stocking a range of wallpapers designed from archive patterns from VW I discovered yet another avenue for day dreaming and one day possibly owning a bit of Viv.

the blog is back!

Yes - having moved and got settled and despite hectic workload that doesn't look like it will ever ease up I am back with the blog. So there should now be regular updates on all things food, books, interiors and generally stuff I like.