First, to all those of you who are kind enough to follow my often less than perfect cooking exploits, may I wish you all Happy New Year and all the best that you would wish for, for yourselves, in 2016.
Now that the traditions, festivities, socialising, cooking, baking, washing up, guest bed-making, house cleaning and all the other ‘stuff’ (all of it wonderful really) is over, my mind is turning to 2016. And what it might bring in terms of the cooking I do, and the ingredients I use, and the veggie patch, and the hens that provide me with the eggs I need… etc etc.
You get the drift. We all tend to turn our minds to the future at this time of year and say ‘I wonder what I will have achieved by the end of this year’. The raw materials are there (each of us as individuals, and our energy, and hopefully support from others) but what will we make with all that?
For the first time, ever I think it is fair to say, I actually think that this year may be ‘the year of confidence’! In my cooking I mean. Over the festive period, a number of folk commented on my cooking and baking. In terms of it actually being surprisingly good! Normally it’s ‘How’s the learning how to cook going?’. This time it has been ‘Blimey that’s really nice.’ Might I be getting there I ask myself?!
Getting there enough to finally dive into some of Miss Reeve’s more ‘less than explanatory’ recipes. You know the sort – a list of ingredients, followed by ‘make the main course and then add the béchamel sauce’ with no instructions on either how to make the main course or make the sauce! I do think now that I have been on sufficient courses with excellent tutors to be able to know how to make sauces, use knives in different ways, make preserves, prepare various potted dishes (for preservation purposes), make cakes, bread, use spices… etc. In other words, I realise that I am getting there (finally) with the ‘how to’ parts of Miss Reeve’s recipes – or rather with the lack of ‘how to’ in her recipes! We shall see. Do follow along with me if you dare!
An example, a friend gave me one of those molds that Victorians (or indeed others but Victorians always spring to mind when I see them). In the shape of a fish. So I thought I would find a recipe suitable for using it.
Miss Reeve had a recipe that merely, after a list of ingredients, said ‘Salmon mousse’ – make sure gelatine is good’. That was it! No idea what ‘good’ gelatine meant. Or in what order the ingredients were made up. I had a go. And this is the result! Quite good I feel. BUT a bit sloppy the first time I made it. So… I merely increased the gelatine content by a fraction. And it worked. I will let you see the recipe soon but, for the moment, bear with me if I proudly display my foray into molds and mousse.
Finally, as is my habit when I come across a book which I really like, let me share this one with you. It is written by Lindy Wildsmith who I met last year when she taught me about preserving. (We made potted duck, potted venison, mincemeat, red onion marmalade, and all sorts of wonderful jellies, and pickles etc.)
I like this book. It has non alcoholic recipes in it as well as alcoholic. So if you are looking at a dry January, do dip into it. The recipes are very easy to follow, uncomplicated, with easily accessible ingredients. The photographs are beautiful. The instructions clear. Very nicely laid out in terms of the different parts of the book. I love it. It isn’t at all condescending, overly-fussy, unrealistic – all those things that so many cookbooks can be. The drinks I made from the book, over the festive period, were all successful – so it is obviously idiot proof! You can get it from Amazon or, if you prefer to buy from good bookshops, I am sure they can locate it for you. You can find out more about it here, from Lindy’s own website.
So – there we go. My first post of 2016. May I wish you and yours everything wonderful that you would wish for yourselves this year. And if you, like me, love cooking then let’s get cracking and see what we can achieve/have a go at this year! Happy New Year.