Tuesday, July 20, 2021

The Nordic Baking Book and The Nordic Cook Book - Magnus Nilsson

To add to the water pump woes, and the heat that makes it feel all but impossible to do anything, there's now an absolutely massive spider at large in my flat. It scuttled out from underneath some clean washing this morning, hid in a pair of knickers that I felt inclined to bin, and finally disappeared under the clothes horse and probably into a duvet cover. I don't wish the spider ill, but I really don't want it jumping out at me again, or in my bed (or underwear, even if I'm not wearing it at the time), and I'm at a bit of a loss as to how to deal with it. I think I'll have to take the duvet cover into the corridor (too many more spiders hanging around the windows for me to shake it out without getting more of them) which will probably freak out the neighbours if they see me - and honestly, it's Far Too Hot for this nonsense.

It's also too hot to finish sorting out the books to go (loading them into the back of a car isn't going to be fun) but I need to get them gone. Two books that are staying are Magnus Nilsson's The Nordic Cook Book and The Nordic Baking Book, although I did wonder about them briefly. I have recently found myself referring to both of them quite a bit, but before that, they'd remained more or less untouched since my sister gave them to me as Christmas presents.

The problem is, they're huge and unwieldy with it for practical kitchen use. A lot of what The Nordic Cook Book covers is the sort of thing (puffin, fulmar, pilot whale) that I wouldn't dream of cooking even if I could - and to be fair I don't think there's any expectation that you might cook these things, but they're a significant part of the food culture in places like Faroe and Iceland so it would be wrong to leave them out. I've also been told by people who have used the baking book that some of the recipes are unreliable.

The question of reliability is an interesting one - the original Mrs Beeton was a collection of things sent in and not necessarily checked, and I've seen some fairly suspect looking recipes in my time in magazines and compendium, but now we not only really expect things to work, but don't necessarily have the knowledge to be able to tell when they won't or know how to fix them. 

Because of how I use these books, reliability isn't my main criterion. I think the instructions for how to braid dough (which I do want to know) are sound, and the history of some of the other things I've looked up is convincing enough for me to quote with confidence (and references). The idea that things might not work is still off-putting, but the insight into a culture is enough to carry me through. 

And now, if I can just catch the merest breath of breeze after weeks of having these weighing down my desk I might just find the energy to haul them back to their normal resting place under the kitchen bookshelves, because they're too big to fit on them (I'll also be praying that's not where the giant spider has taken up residence, nothing about today will be improved by squashing it with kilo's of cookbook).

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