10 Reasons to Love Nigella Lawson

Nigella Lawson, she’s the “Queen of frozen peas,” creator of the Chocolate Cake Hall of Fame and ambassador for food pleasure… And I got to meet her on Thursday night at the Isaac Theatre Royal, courtesy of WORD Christchurch and her publishers Penguin Random House.

To say I was thrilled is an understatement. It’d be more accurate to say I just about pooped my pants with excitement. But a lady sitting next to me had never read any of her books. And I saw someone online saying they felt it would be a waste of time to go see her.

How could this be? She’s fantastic! With me or not, here’s 10 reasons for you to love Nigella Lawson:

  • She is an inspiration to women all over the world. When asked what she thought about people always commenting on her “flaunting her tiny waist,” curves or weight; she responded: “When you get older you can ignore an awful lot, I find, it’s one of the great things… I don’t tend to care about what people think anymore.” *stands up clapping*
  • She’s honest about her motivations: “Because I’m greedy, I’m always thinking about what I’m going to cook.”
  • “People are more practiced at persecuting themselves than pursuing pleasure.” – her motto is to enjoy what you’re eating, even if it’s a slice of decadent chocolate cake.
  • Her advice for weeknight cooking: “My grandmother always had a schedule of food for the week… Give yourself a timetable” She explained how that not only limited stress, but would help with your food budget – and you can create strategies to use leftovers.
  • She loves reading: “There’s a wonderful life long companionship from reading” When I asked what her 3 book recommendations were she responded: “David Copperfield, by Mr Dickens. The Sugar Club Cookbook, by Peter Gordon, and Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford.”

  • She’s a model mindful cook. “I love the sound that food makes… and get great pleasure from that” She’s not a fan of listening to music while cooking, “I’m very happy having the music of the food itself.” That’s mindfulness.
  • She isn’t a fan of restrictive diets, however she is understanding when it comes to food intolerances and allergies. She wants to make people comfortable when they enter her home. “I find it quite helpful when anyone doesn’t eat different things, it’s like painting with a different palate.” But don’t ask her why she doesn’t make sugar free cakes.  “If you want sugar free… just don’t have a cake!”
  • She’s all about nourishing yourself emotionally and physically.

 “I take great pleasure from a bowl of greens”

  • Hey Mums of picky eaters! Nigella was a picky eater as a kid too – there is hope! “I didn’t willingly eat anything at dinner till about 14… I loved spinach and hot chocolate.” Rest easy Mums, you may be nurturing the next Nigella.
  • She’s published 11 cookbooks, all of which make for great reading. Sometimes the “words” part of cookbooks can be boring, about gathering this and that fancy ingredient or implement – but her cookbooks read more like a comforting novel, all about the joys of food.

Check the list below to see what is available in our libraries.

Nigella Lawson

Books, eBooks and DVDs.

View Full List

Read more about Nigella in Aotearoa

Who ate all the pies? OverDrive Big Library Read – 16 to 30 March

Perhaps the question should be who made pie? Art of the Pie by pie-guru Kate McDermott is this month’s Big Library Read (March 16-30) on OverDrive, and quite frankly who doesn’t like pie? We can all take this Pie together right now – the Big Library Read means library customers around the world can simultaneously borrow an eBook.

I personally love a good pie and also appreciate Kate’s rules of pie making and life:

  1. Keep everything chilled especially yourself
  2. Keep your Boundaries
  3. Vent.

CoverThis book is American so we are talking sweet – apple pie, pumpkin pie and pecan pie and many more. We have pastry options including gluten free, vegan and no-bake and even tips for high altitude pie making.

What, no steak and cheese? Never fear there is a section on Meat Pies where you pick your own seasoning. Other international classics such as shepherd’s pie and English pork pie get a mention too.

Kate McDermott has taught the time-honoured craft of pie-making to thousands of people. Her pies have been featured in USA Today, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Real Simple, Oprah.com, NPR and more. In the Art of the Pie she shares her secrets to great crusts, fabulous fillings, and to living a good life. Kate provides dozens of recipes for all the pie combinations you can dream up with hints and tricks helpful to even the most experienced pie baker.

Check out Art of the Pie and remember always blow on the pie!

Find Art of the Pie in our collection.

More about the Big Library Read

Big Library Read is an international reading program that connects millions of readers around the world simultaneously with an eBook, using Overdrive one of our eBook platforms. Discussions about the cookbook, recipes and more can be found on BigLibraryRead.com. The free program runs for two weeks from March 16 to 30 2017 and to get started reading, all that is needed is a Christchurch City Libraries card and PIN/password

Festive Food for the Holiday Season

It’s approaching that time of year. After slaving away at the gym all winter long, desperate to shave those extra pounds for summer, the season of overeating is descending upon us.

Christmas Dinner, 1962.
Christmas Dinner, 1962 by KeteScape is licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 NZ License

The matter is not helped by the vast assortment of Christmas cooking books flying onto the shelves. Check out some of our latest Christmas entertaining and recipe books, guaranteed to convert the most headstrong Grinch among us:

homemade-christmas jamie-olivers-christmas-cookbook seasont-eatings womens-weekly-christmas hairy-bikers-12-days-of-christmas

Find more Christmas cookery in our catalogue.

Search our databases and eResources for further inspiration and turn your kitchen into a frenzy of festivity this December:

What mouth-watering, diet-shattering Christmas treats will you be dishing up this holiday season?

Basics To Brilliance by Donna Hay

CoverDonna Hay’s latest cookbook is a wonderful reminder of why we continue to collect more and more celebrity cookbooks each year. The photography is stunning (I mean seriously- when did poached eggs start to look like airbrushed Hollywood starlets?), the food makes you want to nibble hopefully at the illustrations, and the writing is almost therapeutic.

Basics to Brilliance reminds me of another wondrous food bible, Nigella Lawson’s How To Eat, only with a better title (I mean, ‘How To Eat?’ – really?- you shove food in your gob and swallow it). Like Nigella Lawson, Donna Hay understands what it is like to be a home cook who doesn’t necessarily have the budget to sprinkle caviar over a salad (and yes, a certain celebrity chef did instruct me to do this), or find out where to track down ingredients so unique that I would have to do my grocery shopping on another continent. The ingredients are basic but the dishes are restaurant quality.

There is also a huge variety of recipes to choose from, from the perfect roast chicken to sticky pork ribs, to heavenly brownies. Donna Hay delivers on the ‘basics’ side by including recipes for food such as poached and soft boiled eggs. You may think this is cheating but for a cook starting out on their intimidating culinary journey, recipes like these are a godsend.

Donna Hay guides you patiently through the toughest times of your cooking life. In one instance she assures you that the ganache you are making will set so don’t be tempted to overwhip it (too late for me though sadly as I had already turned up the beater to its full potential amid much raging and cursing).

Donna Hay is often hailed as being Australia’s most popular home cook and her latest book cements this reputation. This doorstopper of a cookbook will certainly keep you in new recipes for all of next year- though of course you can actually never have enough celebrity cookbooks.

Basics to Brilliance
by Donna Hay
Published by HarperCollins New Zealand
ISBN: 9781460751428

Central Library Peterborough

Cool stuff from the selectors: Cars, recipes, and science

9781613252024Exotic Barn Finds: Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin and More by Matthew Stone.

It seems everywhere you turn, on TV, at your library or favorite bookstore, Internet forums, and even social media, people are discovering and documenting the resurrection of old cars stored in barns, garages, and forgotten resting places.

Really?  I must be out of the loop –  but if you enjoy the idea of a rusted 1925 Bugatti Type 22 Bresia, found at the bottom of a lake that sold for $360,000 (US) even before any restoration was started – then this is the book for you.

Lab Girl9780349006192 by Hope Jahren

We don’t always equate being a scientist with being a great writer, however Hope Jahren manages to combine both skills to produce a book that has become a surprise bestseller. Lab Girl is a book about work and about love.

In Lab Girl, we see anew the complicated power of the natural world, and the power that can come from facing with bravery and conviction the challenge of discovering who you are.

Life Without a Recipe9780393249095 by Diana Abu-Jaber

I remember reading The Language of Baklava and feeling it was a nonfiction book written like a novel, and not being a big nonfiction reader this was perfect for me, and a few added recipes made it even better.  I am hoping for big things from Diana Abu-Jaber’s new book which promises:

struggles with cross-cultural values and how they shaped her coming of age and her culinary life, tracing her three marriages, her literary ambitions, and her midlife decision to become a parent.

Christmas – it’s all about the food!

9780857200280It turns out that I blog a lot about food. I’ve blogged about baking failures and baking successes, trying new food and not trying new food, favourite cookbooks we’ve got and favourite cookbooks we haven’t got — I’ve even compared books to food. So it seems only right that I should blog about Christmas food.

I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise that I just love Christmas fare. I’m vegetarian, so the hams, turkeys, and barbeques naturally don’t interest me. No, for me, its really all about dessert! Every year I make the same three desserts. A classic kiwi pav with strawberries and kiwifruit, a Chocolate Bombe Noel (fruit-laden chocolate ice-cream), and a plum and almond flan. I love all three desserts. The flan is a wonderful counterpoint to the rich, sweet pavlova, and it just wouldn’t be Christmas without my ice-cream! Also making all three keeps the egg yolk to egg white ratio perfectly balanced.

But, last year I really did feel a bit like Bill Murray waking up on Groundhog Day. Here I was, once again, making the same things I’ve been making every year since I don’t know when…

Suddenly I felt tired of it. So this year, it’s time to mix it up!

Cover of Australian Women's Weekly PuddingsI’ve got family coming to stay, so with more mouths to feed there’s no need to drop one of the favourites, I’ll just add another dessert!! And keeping it classic, I think I’ll make a trifle. Trouble is, I don’t have a good recipe. Mum never made trifle – no special family recipe to be had. So I’ve been scouring our website and catalogue for trifle recipes, looking for the quintessential trifle.

Now I have a new problem – which one should I make??!

Should I go retro with Classic Puds: From Pavlovas to Trifles?

Am I onto a winner with Lemon Curd and Blueberry Trifle from Kitchen Table Memoirs: Shared Stories From Australian Writers?

Or maybe White Chocolate and Berry Trifle? I discovered this little gem in the Culinary Arts Collection which is tucked away with our Science and Technology eResources

Cover of Christmas MagicSince we’re mixing it up, maybe Gingerbread and Pumpkin Trifle is the way to go? It doesn’t sound much like trifle, but it does sound delish! Check out Teens Cook Dessert if you’re game to give it a try.

Is your mouth watering yet? Why not take a look the list I put together – with 18 different trifle recipes, I’m sure there’ll be something to take your fancy! And if trifle isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of other delicious desserts to whet your appetite.

I guess whatever I make has got to be better than Trifle à la Rachel Green, so I can’t go too far wrong, right?!

Confused and befuddled with Grain Brain: Welcome to the world of dietary advice

I think we can be forgiven for feeling that all the dietary advice that dominates our headlines and magazines (even The Listener for heaven’s sake) is confusing and often contradictory. Always at the forefront of trends,  the library too has its fair share of titles to confuse and befuddle! At this point I hasten to add that this is part of our business, i.e. to purchase items that give information,  different viewpoints and ideas etc. As a society we are concerned about obesity, fast foods and lack of exercise, and of course publishers are well aware of these trends as well.

Fat was the harbinger of all evil until about 8 to 10 years ago, now it’s carbohydrates and its evil twin Sugar. However baking is still hugely popular with sugar always being a star component, although some Paleo books are doing their best to steal its thunder.

Cover of Why diets fail Cover of Taste sweet feast Cover of Paleo sweet treats

Low fat diets were considered essential for a healthy heart, but this book tells us that butter and fat actually make us slim!

Cover of Low-fat feasts Cover of 200 Low carb high fat recipes Cover of The grain brain cookbook

We embraced whole grains to now being told we have Grain Brains…

The Paleo diet has been holding its own for a while now still topping the charts, although Pete Evans of My Kitchen Rules fame and the kingpin of Paleo did have his last book pulled from publication as it contained what was considered to be unsafe information.  However paleo – and its cavemen and women – are covering all bases from smoothies, sweets, chocolate and fast foods, and of course Cavewomen Don’t Get Fat.

Cover of Clean living fast food Cover of Amazing grains Cover of Paleo desserts  Cover of Paleo Smoothies Cover of Edible

Interestingly, recent title Proteinaholic : How Our Obsession with Meat Is Killing Us and What We Can Do about  has come along to question paleo and its meaty companions …

An acclaimed surgeon specializing in weight loss delivers a paradigm-shifting examination of the diet and health industry’s focus on protein, explaining why it is detrimental to our health, and can prevent us from losing weight.

If all else fails we can always rely on insects –  low fat, low sugar, full of protein and tasty. Yum.

Food Fad Fury

Bring a cookbook to morning tea and suddenly everybody at the table has an opinion.

  • Matte paper looks nice for about five minutes, but don’t put the book anywhere near where you actually cook. Drops and splashes look very nasty very quickly.
  • Cover of Dr Libby's Sweet Food StoryDr. Libby sucks all the joy out of life.
  • Reading a cookbook without intending to cook from it is fine. In fact it is officially A Big Thing.
  • Close-ups of the food in its raw state do not count as an illustration. We know what dirty potatoes look like – we want to know what the finished dish should look like once we’ve cooked it.
  • Beige is big but it’s not appetising.
  • One man’s meat is another woman’s poison. Paleo Pete‘s bone marrow broth may be the basis of the Paleo diet, but the very idea induces deep shudders in non-followers. Bone broth in a baby bottle is even worse.
  • Cover of Healthy Every DayCookbook writers should just take drugs to help them recover from their rare diseases. Modern medicine is a wonderful thing. Why bring food into it?
  • If you write a cookbook all your friends have to be good looking. Those who aren’t can have their arm appear at the edge of the picture – but only their arm.
  • All your dogs also have to be attractive. Cats can’t be in cookbooks due to their habit of sitting on the table or lounging in the dishdrainer.
  • All your table cloths have to be retro. Also your china. Nothing should match. Useful if you live in Christchurch.
  • Your garden can be overgrown, but in a good way – grass long enough to attract a council fire hazard notice telling you you’re in for a fine in the real word is picturesque in cookbook world.
  • Assemblage is O.K. – wrapping a bread stick in a bit of ham with some rocket sticking out the top counts as cooking if it’s in a cookbook.
  • Nut butter is vile.

Are you infuriated by any food fads? Please share.

Biggest comfort whisperer born every minute – Reality TV meets reality books

Cover of Jamie's Comfort foodFor many, reality television is akin to devil worship. It is considered voyeuristic, cheap television, and a symbol of all that is wrong in the world. Admitting you watch this type of TV – and perhaps even like it – could, in some circles lead to instant social isolation! If you have been exposed to this type of exclusion then a way back into the social milieu could be to  casually mention that the library embraces reality tv – warts and all!

Think of all the cookbooks from the likes of Jamie and his School dinners, Nigella and Masterchef have spawned? New Zealand’s Hottest Home baker now has its own Alice in Bakingland.

Project Runway has not only raised its host Tim Gunn to the giddy heights of bestsellerdom but contestants have also gone on to produce their own material. Remember Trinny and Suzannah in What not to wear, there was always a waiting list for these two, and who could forget Gok, now not only the savour of the fashionably inept he has now gone onto not only help us look good on the street but in the kitchen as well!

The diet industry has led to many a torrid reality TV watching experience, and The Biggest Loser host Bob Harper has gone onto become a bestseller and diet guru. Jo Frost – our favourite Supernanny – has just put out a new title and the TV programme One born every minute has its own spin-off.

Not even dogs are safe…Cesar Millan aka The dog whisperer has his own books and DVDs.

Cover of One born every minuteNot only has reality TV created its own publishing bonanza it has supported a plethora of books on interior design and craft and design (thanks to My House Rules, Mitre 10 dream home, and Kevin McCloud).

Our CD collections now feature the likes of Stan Walker winner of Australian Idol, and who could possibly forget Britain’s Got Talent Susan Boyle?

So the next time someone scoffs as you chat about last night’s elimination in ‘My Kitchen Rules’, just remind them that the library has plenty of books, DVD’s and CD’s that could help them keep more up with the play.

Terrified by Tirimisu?

cover of The Can't Cook BookWhat started as a bit of a joke, has ended in a cooking revolution in my home this last week or two. I saw a cookbook in our New Titles a while back, immediately thought of my husband, and put it on hold.

The Can’t Cook Book : 100+ Recipes for the Absolutely Terrified  by Jessica Seinfeld, has a funky cover, quirky title and seemed just the thing for a man who tells me he hates to cook. I took it home as a bit of a nudge and a chuckle, but we then started looking through it and we are both hooked.

We’ve made chilli, a few pasta dishes, cookies and wonderful nutty bananas grilled in the oven with a little honey and the darkest brown sugar. I made a lovely one-pan brown rice ensemble that was divine and we find ourselves dipping into the book for inspiration just about every night.

It has a great section of helpful colour photographs to show you how to do the most basic things, such as chop an onion or squeeze a lemon if that’s the skill level you find yourself at and each recipe is headlined with a DON”T PANIC sentence that tells you the trickiest part of the recipe and gives you positive affirmations to help you along the way. And in this online age, there are also links to online video tutorials.

As one of the ‘absolutely terrified’, my husband is really enjoying the ease of use of the book and the fact that everything he’s cooked has turned out great! As a cook whose lived through decades of cooking for family and friends, I’m enjoying the simplicity of the recipes too.

The only down side would be the American measurements and some ingredients, but very few can’t be sourced here, with most recipes made with things you’d find at home already and there is always the internet.

So if you or someone you know is frightened by figs, scared of spaghetti or even made a little nervous by nuts, get this gem out and enjoy your time in the kitchen.