Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Another stonking book review...

Thank you Nicola for a lovely review...(see below) is a large plug for her fabulous website
it's called Raggedy Ann Girl in a Barbie Doll World, and it's brilliant!

Lotte's Country Kitchen - a book review

Let me begin by saying that I have dozens of cookbooks. And a very small bookshelf. I already have to do a seasonal rotation four times a year to accommodate them all, so to get a permanent place on my shelf, and become splashed with the traces of the favourite recipes within, a cookbook has to be very special. Lotte's Country Kitchen is a shoo-in. Author, broadcaster, blogger and self-confessed 'nutty bird', Lotte Duncan has produced something I had thought impossible - a real country cookbook with accessible, interesting, fun and non-stodgy recipes. Food that fills you up and nourishes your soul. Recipes that are as much of a pleasure to cook, as they are to share with loved ones. Menus that will impress your 'tasters' without leaving you a frazzled heap on the kitchen floor. Food that people love. This is real cooking for real people. From the delightfully stimulating salmon, leek and spinach lasagne to hedonistic hot cross bun chocolate and rum pudding, there is something here for every taste, every hunger and every occasion. Even as a non-meat eater I still found plenty of choice and, believe me, I've read many a 'country cookbook' that relied solely on meat for savouries and suet for desserts! Now, I'm not going to suggest that Lotte's Country Kitchen is ideal for the constant dieter - that's not the point of the book. There are lighter options on offer but none of that all-very-healthy-and-pretty-but-leaves-you-hungry arty kind of food that takes hours to prepare and five minutes to consume. Who wants to be the hostess who leaves guests hungry and reaching for the biscuit tin as soon as they get in? Lotte's guests leave her home satisfied and so will yours. There is comfort food like the marvellous Mum's macaroni cheese, as well as posh nosh in the form of salmon, orange and bronze fennel pate. The decidedly grown-up plum vodka (which gives a fabulous kick to a mulled wine) is in perfect contrast to the gratuitously girlie Mr Darcy's pink glittery macaroons.

Helpfully the book is divided into chapters each of which are devoted to a month, so it is quite possible to join Lotte on a year-long exploration of seasonal ingredients and seasonally appropriate dishes. But I defy anyone not to rush right in to whipping up January's enticing nutty treacle tart. There are also lots of helpful tips and lovely snippets of life chez Lotte too. The photography is excellent, the recipes easy to follow, there are instructions for conventional ovens and Agas and, unlike most cookbook reading experiences, you’ll actually find yourself laughing out loud as you go!

But I'd like to offer a little warning. If you're one of those Bree Van der Kamp types, for whom perfection is everything, who has a huge granite topped kitchen with sleek surfaces and gliding draws and an array of barely touched gadgets on the counter top. If you need to be a domestic goddess a la Nigella (who I love, by the way, but no-one really lives like that, do they?) then you need to take in a huge breath, scrunch up those shoulders, let them go again and r-e-l-a-x before opening this book. "Lotte's Country Kitchen" is no place for anyone that takes themselves too seriously! This is one cookbook that will bear the splashes of the food you cook for a long-time to come!
Lotte's Country Kitchen is available now in the UK and from November in the US.

All about Nicola Rippon
Derby-born Nicola Rippon is a freelance writer. She has been a regular contibutor to the "Derby Telegraph" and "Derbyshire Life & Countryside". She is the author of a number of books of both local and national interest, including "Derby Our City (2001) and "Derbyshire's Own" (2006); and is the co-author of "Goodey's Derby" (2003). In 2001 she wrote and co-produced the highly-acclaimed film "Derby: A People's History".Educated in Derbyshire at Dale Primary and Littleover Schools, she is a long-suffering Rams season ticket holder. Her latest book "The Plot to Kill Lloyd George: The Story of Alice Wheeldon and the Peartree Conspiracy" was published in 2009 and she is still ridiculously excited that she can search for herself on Amazon! With a number of exciting projects 'in the pipeline', two cats to follow around and a vegetable patch to tend, Nicola is grateful for this opportunity to vent and muse on this blog.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Burning the Summer Away...

Last Saturday we all got together for the last fire pit of the year.

Much wood and tree bits were burnt, including the first of my autumn cut back. We cooked the food from the Fire Pit Chapter in my book....Lamb with garden herbs, Flatbreads, Cheesy Mustard Pull-Apart Bread,Vegetables in Foil and Sausage and Bean Casserole.
We drank far too much than is probably sensible....ate too much pudding - Jamakewell Tart and Chocolate Mess (no pictures of this unfortunately - it was too dark by the time we ate it..and I was probably a bit too tidly to hold the camera!)....And generally said goodbye to Summer and hello to the cold mornings and chilly evenings of Autumn.

I believe (for it is a little bit hazy) that we may have heralded it in rather well !

It really was a wonderful time - a warm fire brings people together. It comforts us, cuddles us and keeps the wild animals at bay. It enables us cook delicious food, gives us the ability to tidy up the garden and when sat around it, makes us all just stop, relax and take time to chat and laugh until we need the loo!

At some point, towards midnight, a couple of us snoozed, one or two snored and those still conscious, loaded on the logs and kept us all warm.

My poor head paid tribute to our fireside ramblings and sloe gin drinking around the toasty fire the next morning. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

If you want to try cooking on a Fire Pit..all you need is my book (Lotte's Country Kitchen) for the recipes, some quite bonkers friends (we all have a few of those) and some wood and matches.
Plus of course a fit young man to dig it favourite bit!

Everyone must help though (that's the best bit).... this can be building the fire, cooking the flat breads or simply icing the cinnamon rolls (thanks Alice, Olive and Maddy)!

You can buy my book at all good bookshops or pop onto Amazon and order it there.

Let me know how you get on!

Monday, 13 September 2010

My Book Launch!

As you can see, I really did have the best time. I felt truly blessed to be surrounded by seventy of my lovely friends. Family were there too, including my now, infamous baby brother who took rather a liking to my book! Jamie...a little chap with wonderful taste. He soon realised Thomas the Tank Engine wasn't on page six and tossed it aside, but we got the photograph before he did.

A wonderful time was had by all.
I fear I may have come over a little emotional in my speech - I do hope I didn't go on too much. I seem to remember a couple of people with glassy eyes, but I'm hoping that was the Champagne!

So a big thank you to all my friends and family, to Lara 'Loo' Holmes the book photographer, to Luise and Brian of The Book House in Thame where the launch was held and to .... well all of you who have bought my book so far!

Big Thanks and Big Kisses.