Hello, I am ‘One Soup at a Time’ and I am a cookbook addict! I just can’t resist. I think I may be responsible for half the sales in my local Waterstones branch. It works out well for Oxfam books too, as I do occasionally cull my hoard and donate.
My most recent treat was The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit. I haven’t had time to study it in any detail but it did get me thinking about the cookbooks that meant the most to me over the years. After a lot of soul searching I decided to make it easy on myself by identifying the books I used most at four key points in my life and still use today.
The categories I devised are: childhood, school/university, successfully adulting and now.
Scottish Women’s Rural Institutes Cookbook
Let’s be clear about one thing… I’ve included this book as my childhood choice as it was always present in the house when I was a child, NOT because I saved up my pocket money and bought it when it was published in 1946. Its pages are stuffed with notes and recipes that have been shoved in over the years. I’m not sure where many of the notes originated but I did come across the recipe for my childhood favourite – pineapple cake.
My recipe for Oatmeal Soup was inpsired by this book and I say a bit more about its background in that blog. I will definitly try some more of its recipes and have been really surpised by just now contemporary some of the recipes sound. They wouldn’t be out of place on a bistro menu today e.g. macaroni cheese croquettes, tomato toast and cauliflower salad would make a nice set of sharing plates.
My copy is long out of publication but I have provided a link to the current version.
School / university
Gail Duff’s Vegetarian Cookbook
I had to include this book as it inspired most of the food I still make today, even if I no longer follow the recipes. I bought this book in the early 1980s when Scotland was far from a vegetarian haven. If you were eating out anywhere other than an Indian restaurant, the odds were you had an omelette. Its certainly changed days now! This book opened up a whole new world, full of wonderfully exciting flavour. I wouldn’t be vegetarian today without it.
OK, some may be surprised at my claim of sucessfully adulting, but I think having a go-to cookbook for proper dinner parties qualifies for that status. A lot of the recipes work well as shared plates, particularly the sweetcorn with lime and chilli butter, zucchini with mint and feta and roasted beet salad. This is an edited recipe collection, rather than the definitive work of any one cook but the food does have a distinct identity. The sweet potato and pear soup recipe I shared previoulsy comes from this book.
It had to be So Vegan in 5 by Roxy Pope and Ben Pook! I LOVE IT. It really does do what is says on the tin – all recipes only have five ingredients. It has been used constantly in my house since I first bought it and all recipes have worked perfectly first time. We aim to try one new recipe from it every week, that way we won’t just stick with our first one or two favourites. My highlights so far must be:
- Whole roasted cauliflower korma
- Super squash tray bake
- Peanut butter tofu zoodles
- Apricot and rosemary nut roast
What’s next? I think I’ll try the asparagus tarts.
I hope this provides some inspiratrion. Why not dig out some cookbooks and recipes you’ve not looked at in a while. Who knows what you’ll find.
Don’t forget to tell me about your favourites too. I’d love to hear all about them.
- No author 1946. The Scottish Women’s Rural Institutes Cookery Book, Sixth Edition, Edinburgh, Scottish Womans Rural Institute.
- Duff, G. 1978. Vegetarian Cookbook, London, Pan Books Ltd.
- Carter, R (ED), 2004. Vegie Food. Ausrailia, Murdoch Books.
- Pope, R. & Pook, B. 2018. So Vegan in 5, London, Lagom.