I should be writing Christmas cards – time for this is getting very short, but instead I’ve spent the time flicking through ‘River Cottage Every Day’ and watching River Cottage Christmas which is giving me a serious case of River Cottage envy. Once upon a time I was sceptical about the River Cottage way; I’m not sure exactly when the conversion came about but somewhere along the line I bought into it completely, ‘River Cottage Every Day’ (with thanks to my sister for this) is simply the latest stage in what is fast developing into an obsession.
By some inexplicable quirk of fate I’m not living on a small holding anywhere idyllic enjoying the good life – a city centre flat means that most foraging expeditions are confined to Waitrose rather than Hedgerows, we don’t even have a decent farmers market in this city although there are several out in the county where the money is. In some ways I’m grateful for this because much as I believe in the nose to tail eating ethos offal doesn’t often appeal - for now I intend to carry on avoiding anything which reminds me to strongly of an episode of casualty or which demands I shave it before cooking.
That slight double standard aside I’m all for seasonal produce, understanding where my food comes from, and not wasting anything I buy so Hugh is definitely my epicurean crush of the moment but that in itself is not enough to make me take my sister to book shops and go That One Please until she gave in and got it for me. The cookbook collection has reached a critical mass (takes up to much shelf space) and can only be added to after careful thought and consideration, a book has to earn its place. ‘River Cottage Every Day’ brings my River Cottage total up to five handbooks and 4 full sized cookbooks; so why do I need this one as well?
One reason is a definite preference for books by cooks rather than chefs – Delia, Nigella, Hugh; they all work on a level I feel comfortable with and confident at, I trust these writers to help me produce results I’m proud of and want to share. I’ve acquired some lovely cookbooks over the years that I know I’m unlikely to use because they demand skills and equipment I don’t possess. The philosophy behind the book appeals too, which matters if you don’t want to feel like you’re on the receiving end of a lecture – as it is I find the tone infectiously enthusiastic - I am most definitely the converted and don’t mind being preached to. Finally and most importantly there are plenty of ideas I’ll use. I really like the lunch box section – there’s nothing I couldn’t or haven’t thought of before but the presentation makes it feel fresh; I can actually see myself moving on from the cheese sandwich...