Three years ago my debut cookbook, Homemade Memories, hit the shelves. I adored the process, a labour of love written, tested and tasted during the evenings and on weekends whilst working a full time job. The day after my book launch, I found out I was pregnant and since then Nino has been born and his little sister is cooking up nicely for her summer arrival. I guess you could say this book was my first baby, a trial run of late nights and hard work and ever so slight obsession. When I was working on the book, people often asked how I managed to find the time. But if you truly love, believe in and benefit from something, somehow you make time, whether it’s baking, or jogging or juggling a family alongside a career.
That’s what I’d like to believe, anyway. Recently – most likely due to our house move last weekend – the scales of work and family and personal projects feel slightly off kilter. Suffice to say I’m excited for maternity leave, for nesting in our new family home, spending time with Luke, Nino and our imminent arrival and reconnecting with the kitchen. Everyone knows new baby visits must be accompanied by cake, right? So there will be cake. And scones and biscuits and bringing out the ice cream machine in time for hot summer days spent in the garden without dreaded commutes or deadlines. I’ll be making a lot from Homemade Memories – is it odd to bake from your own book? It truly is a collection of my favourite recipes, so I suppose not. Anyway, I’d love for you to make things from it too, so in the spirit of moving house and discovering some spares (!) plus the thrill of a third birthday and need for celebration, I’m giving away three signed copies. Continue reading
Exactly one year ago to this day, I found out that I was pregnant with Nino. Of course we didn’t yet know exactly who that poppy seed-sized embryo inside me would turn out to be, but we were pretty sure he (yes he, somehow we knew from the start he’d be a boy) was going to change our lives. I still get goosebumps when I think about seeing those two blue lines for the very first time, Luke’s face when I crept back to the bedroom to tell him the news, his giant beam behind a pair of very bleary eyes . . . Continue reading
With 31st October just around the corner, my mind is turning to bite-sized snacks. If you’ve bought my book or read this blog for any length of time, you’ll know I’m not a big fan of packaged treats. If there’s a shop-bought something I’m craving, I’ll likely try to recreate it at home. Every Halloween as a child, in amongst the fang-shaped Haribo and fun-sized Mars Bars that filled my trick or treat bag, I’d almost always end up with a Penguin bar scrabbled from the biscuit tin of an unprepared mum. Penguin bars were pretty much a staple 1980s snack in every household except ours, so while it might have seemed boring to some, the addition of this run-of-the-mill chocolate bar to my seasonal stash was always very welcome. Continue reading
The last few weeks have been full of celebration. We’re at that stage in life where everyone is turning thirty, getting married or engaged with the various drinks and parties and hen dos that go with it. In between all the socialising there’s been little time for baking, so what I end up making tends to involve minimal time and effort for maximum results. Continue reading
‘There are a million and one directions in my waking hours, but I find there’s a welcome habit in cooking, in the routines of the kitchen around which our lives revolve. It’s what gets us going in the morning and brings us back together each night.’
This is the closing paragraph of the introduction to food blogger Tara O’Brady’s beautiful debut cookbook, Seven Spoons. It’s a sentence that seems to sum up her approach and the way this book will work its way into your kitchen. If you’re into cooking, I suspect that Tara’s is the kind of food you’re already making, but a new improved version, introduced with passion and such elegant prose, peppered with little surprises and tips along the way. Continue reading
A shop-bought Jaffa cake is one of those goodies somehow so much greater than the sum of its parts. The cake-y base is drier than you average sponge, the jelly too sticky to wobble and the outer coating too thin for a proper chocolate fix. Yet somehow, combined, these elements make a uniquely satisfying and more-ish mouthful. Better still, have you ever tried making your own Jaffa cakes at home? Now that’s where the magic really begins to happen . . .
‘If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done before’ – Thomas Jefferson.
This time last year I’d just signed a cookbook deal with my publisher, Orion. I had an enthusiastic editor, a slightly scary deadline and a rough proposal consisting of 100 recipes – some of which I could make with my eyes closed, most of which I’d only tasted in my dreams. Thousands of words, dozens of kilos of butter, sugar, cream and chocolate and countless sleepless nights later, I’m slightly speechless to confirm that I DID IT!!! Continue reading
Are you bored of these photoshoot updates yet? I couldn’t resist sneaking in a few final pictures from the week just gone. So that’s a wrap, the final Homemade Memories photograph has been taken, the last prop carefully washed up, crumbs cleared away and leftovers distributed to my nearest, dearest and hungriest. On Thursday I got the first round of printed pages to proof read and this weekend just gone – in between packing up our whole flat and moving in with my parents for renovation work to begin (phew!) – I set to work on marking up those final little amends.
When I was fifteen I got my first mobile phone. Not your standard smart phone with fancy apps, a camera or even a colour screen; just a pink-cased Nokia brick which I used as a sort of portable telephone box to call my parents. Friends were contacted using our good old-fashioned landline and the internet (including the joy of MSN Messenger) accessed by via our clunky home PC. I didn’t spend much time online and any baking we did was inspired by my Mum’s extensive collection of recipe books, magazine cuttings and a little bit of imagination. Continue reading
Writing a cookbook while you have a full time job is a lot of hard work. Over the last month I’ve spent alternate weeks in the office and at the studio in Acton, with the weekends spent writing lists, shopping and prepping for the shoots whilst somehow also managing to squeeze in a trip to Yorkshire, a family wedding and our first year anniversary celebrations. You know what they say about giving a job to a busy person . . . Continue reading