We are having a lot of ‘firsts’ at the moment, blog wise anyway. Last week saw the first Craft Corner and this week sees the inauguration of the first Bakery Bookshelf and later on, Bakery Beauty.
So let’s talk about some books, shall we? (ps – links to purchasing the books featured are at the end of the post)
A couple of these were Christmas presents, one has been in the reading pile for a while; patiently waiting its turn, and a couple are new as I purchased them this month. Where to start?
Fiction: A Red Herring without Mustard by Alan Bradley
This is the third book in an ongoing series, following the adventures of Flavia De Luce, an 11-year-old detective who has a bicycle called Gladys, who is ticklish (how can you not like a series that features a ticklish bicycle?!) set in the 1940s.
I am not one for what is considered ‘chick-lit’. I just can’t do all that soppy mush, woe is me, feeling sorry for myself only for prince charming to magically appear from the wings stuff, however, sometimes we all need an easy read, and that is when I reach for Flavia. If you like the M C Beaton series, then these books will be right up your alley. They are incredibly easy to read, yet entertaining.
It should also be noted that as well as meddling in affairs that she should not, Flavia also has a huge predilection for chemistry. Living in an old country house, she has a whole floor of one wing to herself which includes a chemistry lab, as you would . . . and her experiments can have interesting consequences. I would highly recommend them if you are looking for something a little different.
Craft: Edward’s Menagerie Birds by Kerry Lord
I almost considered saving this for a craft corner, however it is a book and I haven’t made anything from it yet.
I have made a couple of things from its sister book entitled Edward’s Menagerie (this reindeer for example), but I have yet to venture into the world of birds. I am fairly certain that the flamingo will be the first to be made, especially as I got some sparkly pink yarn for Christmas and I think it just has to be used for the flamingo, but not all over, so I need to do a bit of yarn stash raiding, or even purchasing.
The good thing about this book (and its sister) is that the patterns are organised into levels, 1-3, 1 being for beginners and each level slightly more advanced. Making something cute is always a good way into crochet so if you or someone you know is just getting into crochet then these are a good place to start.
I will report back on the flamingo once he has made a physical appearance.
Simply Nigella by Nigella Lawson
This book has been around for a while, and even though I was underwhelmed by the accompanying TV series, I have every other Nigella book so I had to get it.
I have to be honest and say that although more inspiring that the TV series, I am a little disappointed with the book. The recipes are simple, which is fine, after all we don’t want things that take 10 hours of prep etc. to make, but there aren’t many things that you want to make straight away. I have tried a few and some have been hits and some have been misses – my mum made the chocolate buckwheat cookies and they tasted, quite frankly, weird. Not of buckwheat or of chocolate, but distinctively perfumed. I will try again just in case.
If you are a collector of Nigella books then this one is obviously a must, but if you are looking for one that will be your first, there are better.
The Art of Eating Well by Hemsley and Hemsley
If you are looking for a book that is gluten-free without it being obviously gluten-free, then this is for you. There are no grains anywhere in it, lots of nuts and seeds, but no grains, which means that it is inherently gluten-free without advertising it.
The recipes are simple and the photography makes them all look amazing – I am itching to try making my own chocolate!
So far there are two recipes that have already become staples in my freezer – the multi seed bread and the flax-meal sandwich bread – both are easy to make, freeze well and, most importantly, are delicious. Side note: the flax-meal bread is infinitely better once it has been frozen and defrosted. Weird I know, but it is softer and the flavour mellows.
River Cottage Gluten Free by Naomi Devlin
This book. Seriously, this book. I have saved the best till last. It was the one I was most looking forward to getting my sticky little hands on. I pre-ordered it on Amazon and then just had to be patient, but let me just say this: I had it for less than 48 hours and had already made 3 recipes from it.
I have written before about my trip(s) to River Cottage for the gluten-free days at the Cookery School. If you get the opportunity then you really should go. Naomi is such an inspiration and you come away feeling revved up and determined to make everything sourdough.
Having completed both the beginners and advanced course, realistically I can not justify another visit, which made me sad as I could spend days in Naomi’s company. But now I have her book, so whenever I feel the need for inspiration I just need to flick through it and I will be clamouring to make another 10 recipes all at the same time!
Her shortcrust pastry is my go-to recipe and has been since I first made it (and yes, it is in the book). The recipes I have made so far are Chestnut & Buckwheat Cheaty Sourdough – made using live yoghurt rather than a traditional starter, and helped me use up some chestnut flour. Freezes well and makes lovely toast – Pumpkin Pie ‘Porridge’ – no grains, just blended squash, apples and carrots, delicious on a miserable winter morning with a swirl of yoghurt and some of this granola scattered over the top – and Breakfast Risotto – so good, I can not tell you. I subbed the almond milk for whole organic milk, and it is such a treat on a workday morning (I have frozen portions of all of the above in the freezer, ready for easy defrosting the night before for speedy and nutritious breakfasts when time is tight and I have spent too long trying to get my hair to look any kind of decent).
If you only buy one book from this month’s bookshelf, I would have to say that it should be this one.
What books have you enjoyed this month? I’d love to know, so leave me a comment. It is about time I made another bookshelf collapse under the weight!