Tuesday, March 17, 2020

From the Oven to the Table - Diana Henry

I got a smart meter fitted last year, and seeing what having the heating on cost me day by day* (and on one terrifying occasion what baking a loaf of bread did) really curbed my oven use. The heating is off now though and the oven back in action and I’m finally been using Diana Henry’s ‘From the Oven to the Table’ a lot. Everything I’ve cooked so far has been a hit, and I’m finding it a great book to be stuck at home with so I’m recommending it here again.

This one came out a couple of months before I was made redundant and so I had bought various store cupboard ingredients in anticipation. The nice thing about this is that despite the ingredient lists looking quite long next to each recipe when I actually come to read through them it turns out that I need chicken thighs and peppers, or a large bunch of dill etc - but I’m sorted for all the other bits.

What I like about Diana Henry’s books generally is that she’s big on flavour with a minimum of fuss. This book is more or less one pot (or baking tray) cooking which needs a minimum of attention once it’s gone in the oven which is an approach I like on principle even when I’m not short of time to fuss around.

That’s partly because there’s a difference between having time on your hands, and being in the mood to make food that’s a major production. Sometimes I like to cook as a distraction from stress, but there are other times when it’s really tempting to live off toast for a week because it’s all a bit much, I can only imagine how that goes if you have a family to feed.

In this book I’m finding a balance that encourages me to make good food. That in turn is mood enhancing, and generally makes everything feel a bit less grim**,which makes good self care easier - a nicely virtuous circle. I’m also going to give Diana’s chicken book, ‘A Bird in the Hand’ a shout out too (and really all her books) as a great way of making those packs of frozen chicken thighs at the back of the freezer look more tempting.

More than that, after success with lamb chops sweet potatoes, peppers and mojo verde (I don’t view sweet potatoes with much enthusiasm, and actively dislike coriander leaf most of the time) I’m almost convinced it’s time to overcome a deep rooted conviction that I don’t like cauliflower. It’s good to broaden my ideas.

*unemployed life
**seeing much less of family and friends, unsure when I’ll get to see dad again (due to distance rather than pessimism) - small and necessary sacrifices under the circumstances, but they still get me down.


  1. I took a look through From the Oven to the Table when I was do my pre-self-isolation shop (in Canada, anyone returning from abroad has been asked to self isolate and since I live with family who just returned from the US, I'm isolating alongside them). I made sure to pick up the ingredients for a few of the recipes and it's so nice to have them to look forward to!

    1. It really is, and as I'm on my own at home it's helpful to cook properly to give my day a bit of structure. I'm really enjoying this book, everything I've made so far has been great and that's cheered me up too.