Wednesday, 22 May 2013

My other addiction, and crafting it up

In the years B.C. (Before Craft), before the closet was heaving with fabric bundles and countless balls of yarn...before crochet hooks were tucked in the same drawers as pens...before an embroidery hoop sat on the bedside table beside a novel...

There was, and still is, my cookbook collection.

This lovely Ikea bookcase is heaving with 128 cookbooks (at last count). I have been addicted to cooking and reading cookbooks since I was quite young. I remember my first children’s cookbook, the bright photos and simple recipes. I set up my own restaurant for my family, typed menus on the typewriter (remember that old piece of equipment?), and served the finest egg salad, chilli con carne and ice cream sundaes I’m sure my family ever ate!

'A Year in My Kitchen' by Skye Gyngell, on the top shelf just right of centre, is my favourite of them all!
As a teenager I perused cooking magazines, wondering where I could find a sun-dried tomato and wanting to live in a big city to try all the ‘exotic’ ingredients. I learned how to chop an onion after watching chefs on TV, slicing horizontally through onion tears after practicing all those vertical cuts... 

The old cheese cupboard now houses table linens and tea towels...
When I was in my 20s and had my own flat, I would host dinner parties for my friends, making notes in my cookbooks about successful menu combinations. I remember my first sushi meal and how enchanted I became by cuisines from different cultures, from Italian to Thai, Scandinavian to Ethiopian. I read cookbooks like novels – they are testimony to an ethnic pride, love letters to garden and market bounty.
Oh how I wax lyrical about cookbooks! Now I love, absolutely love, cooking and baking for my family, teaching my children to try new foods and really think about what they are eating and enjoy family meals.

I have two new acquisitions to squeeze in to my shelves, we're at 130 now

The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook was sent to me by a very dear friend in America, where the series has found a very devoted, passionate following (she is ever so jealous that I get to see the latest episodes first in the UK!). It promises to be a fun read. A great friend in my village has the other book, made me this recipe from it...

...and I went home and one-clicked it on Amazon straight away! Now we are doing a cook-a-long (similar to the quilt-a-longs and crochet-a-longs seen in blogland), where we try recipes from the book and share opinions and notes. This book promises to be a fave, packed full of seasonal recipes that are delicious, quick to prepare, actually fill a hungry appetite and still prove healthy. I will keep you updated, and feel free to join the cook-a-long!
But as I searched for a spot for these new books, I noticed the shelves look a bit tired. Hum drum. I have some crafty ideas swirling in my head, after seeing the gorgeous decoupage chair over at Ladybird Diaries...perhaps this bookcase would look sweet covered with floral paper? Wouldn’t the books seem even more enticing on a crafted-up shelf? What do you think?

Chrissie x



  1. I think you need a bigger bookcase! no wonder you are such a fabulous cook after starting so young, i love the thought of you typing up menus, thats so lovely.
    see you soon
    love jooles xxx

  2. Oh my, what a lot cookbooks! I have quite a lot myself, but not as many as you! I loved the wes story of you making up menus for your family as a child, so sweet! I think the bookcase would look fabulous decopatched! Go for it! And can't wait to see the end result...!
    M x