It’s the books. I’ve got, er, quite a few. There are cookery and food books everywhere. (Though I have managed to keep them out of the bedside pile. For the moment.)
Some have been barely used, some are stained and mangled and barely legible, some – 1970s edition of the Hamlyn All-colour Cookbook, I’m looking at you despite Mary Berry having contributed a section – are best described as having largely historical interest and are shelved in the basement. So, decision time.
Do I throw? Oh, please. Books? Never. Do I recycle? Yes, some can definitely head towards charity shops, though possibly not the ones with the graffiti and the soup stains. If they’ve been used to that extent, they are ones I may well need. Either now, or at some indefinable point in the future. But what about the ones I’ve not really used?
So, I’m setting myself a task, the cooking equivalent of a Goodreads ‘how many books can you read in a year’ challenge (though I did quit Goodreads; it just got silly, and so might this). Every week, things like holidays permitting, I will use a new recipe from one of my little-used books. They will often, doubtless, be veggie, given that I have an abundance of things like this to use in the season:
And they will doubtless be adapted, often to allow for my lactose intolerance but sometimes just because I’m missing an ingredient or in a hurry – after all, that’s how recipes have to work in the real world. They need to be adaptable, like my fave roast tom passata from the River Cottage Preserves handbook:
And here the graffiti inform me that it’s ‘sensational with Cuor di Bue, 2010’, ‘done for freezing, mostly with Harbinger, tough skins, 2009’, ‘add a slug of wine, too, yum’, and ‘large roasting dish covered in toms makes about 1 litre’. It also adds, in biro, ‘don’t burn!!!!’ and ‘omit the sugar unless the tomatoes are crap’. No point repeating that recipe for this experiment…
I’m not going to do a random pick, because that wouldn’t work: suddenly dashing out to find kohlrabi or fennel pollen is impractical round here, and anyway I don’t like kohlrabi and am ‘meh’ about fennel pollen. I will also avoid any books I’ve edited, since I know those recipes and – hopefully, no, certainly, given the testing undertaken – they’ll work.
But it will always be a recipe I haven’t used before, and maybe from a book I haven’t used at all, just drooled over. And I will do my best to be good and follow the recipe as I should, and I will certainly note any silly errors – editorial, mostly: missing ingredients, missing steps in the method, assumptions that probably shouldn’t be assumptions but spelled-out certainties.
So, first week of January = first recipe. What will it be, I wonder? What cuisine will it come from? Will it be from one of my older books (except, possibly, the Hamlyn All-Colour Cookbook), or from something brand spanking new? Who knows? I don’t…
Oh, and I will not be republishing the actual recipe – no way. I seem to spend far too much time saying things like ‘no, you cannot just copy a Jamie Oliver recipe in your book’, ‘yes, it is one of his, it’s from XXX, easy to track down’, ‘yes, copyright applies to recipes’ and ‘yes, he will notice, or his people will, after all, I did, even though you didn’t mention him’ to some authors. I will add a link, if I can find a legitimate source, and I will summarise. But I will not be copying Jamie Oliver recipes on Twelve Miles. Promise. Tools, at the ready!