I have a bit of a collection of cookery books. I don’t buy them as much as I once did owing to the age of internet and also working in a library. I do like to have my favourites in book form. I like books which tell stories as well as just list recipes. Over the years these cookbooks come to hold memories of our own good times with family and friends, or have become family traditions I come back to every year, or even every couple of weeks. I heard somewhere most people will only use three recipes out of every cook book they own. If a book is on my shelf it is because I still use the recipes. There are a few which have not been touched in a while so I thought it was time to discover some new from the old. Make myself use recipes I haven’t before.
I looked at a few books wondering what would be my pick for this week. ‘Creative Chicken’ holds some particular memories. Three weeks before I got married to Tim he picked me up from London after I’d just finished my finals at university. Big day. As he drove me home to my friend’s house he told me to look under the car seat as there was something for me. Several possibilities flashed through my mind. What could my fiancé have bought for me? I did not expect what I found. ‘Creative Chicken’.
To this day, and to my shame, I am not good at hiding my disappointment at getting a gift I don’t like. I wish I could be more gracious. On that day long ago, I think I said ‘Oh!’, and thought to myself, ‘Take me back to London!’ It turns out Tim hadn’t really planned to get me a gift, but a book company had come to sell books at his office. He saw the chicken one and thought of me. He thought it was better than just giving a card. Hmmm. I don’t think he realized what message it communicated to his soon to be wife. University is over! You are soon to be married, forget your education, your dreams, from now on you will be cooking meals for me. Forever.
Obviously, we got over that little hump, as we did get married three weeks later. Maybe he knew more than me how much I’d come to love leafing through a book of recipes. Maybe.
Anyway, I didn’t have the ingredients for any of the chicken recipes this week so I moved on to a more recent book on my shelf, Simply Nigella by Nigella Lawson, to look for tasty lunch ideas. Usually, if I don’t have a plan in place when I come home for lunch, I’m so hungry I grab anything. The thing is I’ve found I can’t eat bread every day – I limit it to the weekends (I love bread and it’s so hard to not eat it)- so I need to have a filling alternative. I eat a lot of omelettes, but I need variety. I haven’t quite got my head around making hipster mason jar soups and salads yet, though I may do soon.
I do love a good Nigella recipe, Simply Nigella contains more health conscious recipes than her previous books. Her recipe for Chicken Shawarma is loved by every single member of the family, as are quite a number of things I’ve tried from this book. I managed to find something I hadn’t tried though – Split Pea Soup with Chilli, Ginger and Lime. Determined to achieve a Taste It Tuesday post by Tuesday I made it after Zumba class late last night!
It’s easy enough to throw some split peas in a pot with some chopped green onions, chillis (I am in a with the seeds kind of mood at present) and crushed garlic, add water then simmer it for an hour. Once the split peas are cooked and mushy, it’s just a case of throwing in some stock powder (I didn’t, I used a Knorr Chicken Bouillon concentrate, one with no msg), ginger and lime zest and juice. It smelled so good at this stage. I left it to cool a little and then ladled it into separate portions, in jars, ready to be heated up for lunches during the week.
It is snowy and very cold here so it was such a good thing to come home to eat this at lunch today. Just the right amount of heat and zing.
You can find many of Nigella’s recipes on her website, and if you can’t find them there, I do recommend her books. You may even find them in your local library.