I've been wanting to write about this book for a good few weeks now but somehow time has got away from me, however I've done my last big wine tasting of the season (it was the definitely the best from my point of view, it was a big event and I got to taste loads of things the other exhibitors were showing), written most of my Christmas cards (enough anyway), and today have started on the Christmas baking (trial recipes today to see if they'll do for hamper presents). My home preparations for Christmas are quite minimal (I still go to my mother's for the actual day), but the thought that I only have 3 days off between now and the 25th is quite daunting; I like to make some elements of the presents I give for the pleasure it gives me - don't believe anybody who tells you home made is cheaper; ingredients, materials, and packaging cost a fortune (and then consider the time that goes into being thoughtful) it is however a lot of fun.
'Sugar & Spice' - sweets and treats from around the world - is the sort of book I seem pre-programmed to love. There are projects for every level of kitchen competence - I'm quite keen to try making my own marzipan for which there are several recipes here - it sounds quite simple as long as you have a mixer with a paddle attachment which I think I do which leads me to a bit of an aside.
Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra was bought up in Guyana, her ancestors were indentured labourers recruited in India, plantation life was a mix of British inspired living and individual ethnicity with both elements controlled by the availability of goods. After that it was university in Nova Scotia, time spent in Spain, and finally a home in Holland. Ingredients are measured in grams, ounces, and cups - it's very multi-cultural but occasionally a little confusing - so for example in the chocolate fudge recipe I made tonight all the instructions are simple and informative bar one; the specified tin. The specified tin is referred to a few times but in the end is simply referred to as a large loaf tin, there's a picture that shows it's not a UK standard but no measurements to help find an equivalent. Paddle is another example - is a paddle the same as a beater? (Google images suggests that it is.) This is a tiny quibble which I only mention because I'm a pedant in the kitchen, it doesn't spoil my enjoyment of the book but I've learnt I need to pay it a little bit extra attention.
One of the reasons I like making gifts for people is that it gives me the opportunity to cook all sorts of things which would send a single woman into a diabetic coma, never more true than with sweets, I can't make them for myself - I'd eat them ALL, but they are at least far easier to share than cake. Initial impressions of the chocolate fudge are good (I'll know more in the morning when it's properly set), especially as you don't need to boil it to soft ball stage, the chocolate is meant to help it set, the advantage being that it's less easy to burn as well as quicker to make.
The reason that I love this book is that it really is multi-cultural, there are exciting things from all over including a sizeable selection of Indian sweets, something I've got quite fond of after all these years in Leicester. There's also a lot of information about all sorts of stuff in general, another thing I can't resist. A cookbook that promises years of sharing good things with friends has got to be a book to treasure.