inspiration January 2013


I was going through a stack of books the other day and came across my copy of Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal, a book I cannot recommend highly enough. I have dog-eared several pages, some with recipe ideas, but also many with prose whose sentiments carry such sensible and grounded cooking guidance. I was particularly reassured to have reviewed this passage just hours before baking a sticky toffee pudding that was to be part of a New Year’s Eve dinner gathering.

“No matter how well a cookbook is written, the cooking times it gives will be wrong. Ingredients don’t take three or five minutes to be done; it depends on the day and the stove. So you must pay attention, trust yourself, and decide.”

The recipe suggested baking the cake for 25 minutes. As I pulled yet another skewer from the centre, with batter still clearly not set at the 40 minute mark, I did as Tamar encouraged – I trusted myself and decided to put it back in the oven. The cake was done when it was done, and not a minute sooner. The pudding was delicious in the end, and made for a tasty, if a bit indulgent, finish to 2013.

With the first day of the new year drawing to a close, here is what is inspiring me now as I look ahead to all the potential that 2014 holds.

What I am reading…
The seriously entertaining McSweeney’s 11th batch of Reviews of New Food, which collects up all the posts from 2013 (it’s worth going back to past year’s collections as well).

Lapham’s Quaterly Food Issue. Although this one is from Summer 2011, I treated myself to a back issue and have been working my through the varied articles that cover a broad timeline of food history.

I find it very difficult to visit The Good Egg in Kensington Market and come out empty-handed, so it should not be a surprise that when I went in looking for a cookie cutter, I came out with a lovely 2″ snowflake-shaped tool and a copy of  Wilder Quarterly.

My holiday stocking contained a copy of the first issue of Riposte: A Smart Magazine for Women. Given that a parody like this rings far too true, I think a publication like Riposte is a welcome, and much-needed alternative.

I picked up a copy of The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly at ‘a post Boxing Day but still on sale’ sale. I have not yet tucked into this modern Korean farm animal fable, but it is next up on my reading list.

What I am watching…
This documentary about Myrtle Allen, the inspiring chef, hotelier, and food advocate whose vision inspired the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland.

On my wish list…
These Irish linen cocktail napkins. While I am not a big fan of ironing, I think they’re worth it.