Cool stuff from the Selectors: Feeding frenzy

Eating. It’s the most natural thing in the world yet it is becoming increasingly loaded with emotion and so-called science. This can leave the most sensible of us awash in recipes and diet plans.

To add to the dilemma of what to eat as adults, we are now increasingly concentrating on what to feed our children. Now in “my day” (yes I know that sounds dreadful but I can’t think of any other way to put it) we blended up a bit of pumpkin, threw in some cheese ( if we had any),  pureed apple or banana and that was that. Did this lead to lack of vitamins, macro-nutrients, poor eating habits and an addiction to sugar? I really don’t know… My children seem reasonably healthy, but with the addition of twins to our family I am aware that there is much discussion, and a certain amount of anxiety amongst new parents when faced with the endless opinions and debate around food.

So here are some new titles that will either help or hinder the feeding process!

CoverLittle Foodie: recipes for babies and toddlers with taste

Michele Olivier describes herself as a complete control freak and I have to agree with her. The book emanates from a blog she created when feeding her daughter Ellie and is full of organic, fresh, tasty meals. She suggests all you “need is a couple of hours each month  and a passion to give your baby the best”.  Good luck with that.

CoverBaby-led Feeding

This book is very attractive with colour pictures accompanying  each recipe and plenty of interesting ideas for first food. I struggled a bit with the cost factor of strawberry and goat cheese spread, simple poached salmon (I can’t even afford this for the adults in my family let alone the children) and tomato fennel soup, but that aside there are some good ideas in here for all the family.

CoverBaby Food Matters: what science says about how to give your child healthy eating habits for life

For those of you who are serious about this baby feeding business!  Packed full of ideas including the blindingly obvious “… don’t pressure him to eat past the point at which he feels full” or “limit unhealthy foods and snacks” to in-depth information and charts for average daily energy requirements in the first year of life, recommendations for the required amount of vitamin D, and how to cope with fussy eaters. There are no pretty pictures in this book!

CoverPet Cookbook: Easy everyday recipes for happy healthy pets

Now that we are educated on how to feed our children we can turn our attention to the family pet with the Pet Cookbook: Easy everyday recipes for happy healthy pets. Treat them to watermelon pupsicles, a tasty salmon log, pupcakes, chicken scramble (apparently chickens love this even though they are eating their own) and a super smoothy.  Heck, use these recipes yourself – they look great!

Culinary delights from 1917

Everything old is new again. Or so it would seem with lots of things getting a 21st century revival including sustainability, reducing food-waste, hand-made, and foraging wild foods (not that any of these things had ever really gone away).

So maybe now is the time to grab your aprons and revisit some recipes from the past.

Early last century The Press published a column with the delightful title Women’s Corner – where all matters for insertion were to be sent to the Lady Editor for consideration. While other pages of the newspaper were filled with stories of the War this column provided readers with news of weddings, who’s wearing what, who is visiting whom in the district, some news and anecdotes from overseas, and sometimes a recipe of the day.

And what recipes they are, a seemingly never ending array of pies, puddings, fritters and rissoles! Light on instruction – I think everyone just knew how to make pastry – the recipes offered us such delights as Orange Roly-Poly, Banana Pie, Rice and Meat Rissoles, and Russian Pie.

On the cooking radar around this time of year in 1917 were Baked cheese and potato cake, apple fritters, cheese pudding, Rabbit and Macaroni pie, date pudding and this recipe.

WOMEN'S CORNER. Press, 29 June 1917
WOMEN’S CORNER., Press, Volume LIII, Issue 15940, 29 June 1917 , CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 NZ

I’m not sure how easy it will be to source the ‘pollard’ – a byproduct of flour milling – or what else I could use it for since the only other pollard based recipe I came across was ‘Phosphorized Pollard for Poisoning Rabbits’ from the Bay of Plenty Times.

If you don’t find any of these 1917 recipes tempting you can find other culinary delights from New Zealand in our catalogue including Ladies, a plate.

Or borrow one of our many food related magazines.

Taste   Dish   Recipes + New Zealand   Delicious

And check out our New Zealand Cuisine Booklist for more titles. Bon appétit !

Follow our tweets from @100chch to discover life and events 100 years ago in Christchurch and Canterbury.

A glut of literary cookbooks

Cover of Dinner with Mr DarcyAs so often happens with me, I recently spotted a single title that lead me down a library collection rabbit hole that I’ve only just scrambled out of.

The book in question was Dinner With Mr Darcy: Recipes Inspired by the Novels and Letters of Jane Austen. My interest was piqued. I had a sudden appetite to know – what other literature could I consume, literally?

I seemed to recall my sister attending a Cover of A feast of Ice & FireGame of Thrones themed party in recent years that featured some Westerosi cuisine along the lines of Sansa Stark’s beloved lemon cakes. And sure enough, I found the very book, A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Companion Cookbook.

And well, from there it was cookbooks all the way down. And being that it’s winter and nobody really wants to go out much, I wonder if putting on a bit of a shindig with themed eating might not be the way to go? If that tickles your gastronomic fancy, then have I got the reading list for you!

First off, Dinner with Mr Darcy is not the only option for Austen fans as Cooking With Jane Austen covers similar Regency fare. Complete with food-related quotes from Austen’s work and with over 200 recipes there’s sure to be something to tempt even the most proud and prejudicial of guests.

Cover of Green eggs and ham cookbookFor kids (or the ravenous child within) there are a number of titles to choose including those inspired by childhood classics such as The Winnie-the-Pooh Cookbook and Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook. Not to mention two volumes of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes.

Or if you know a child who’d like fairytale-inspired food then you could try Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literacy CookbookCook Me A Story: A Treasury of Stories and Recipes Inspired by Classic Fairy Tales or Chinese Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook. Fans of Brian Jacques long-running children’s series will no doubt be interested in The Redwall Cookbook.

Cover of Fifty shades of chickenThose looking for something a little more adult might like Fifty Shades of Chicken: A Parody in A Cookbook. I only hope is that none of the shades is “pink”. I also suspect the name of the author “F L Fowler” is a nomme de (poultry) plume.

Also for the grownups are the thirst-quenching literary themed cocktail recipes of Tequila Mockingbird, and True Blood Drinks & Bites.

Cover of The geeky chef cookbookMore pop culture than literary? Geeks of several flavours can explore their fandom through food with The Official DC Super Hero CookbookThe Geeky Chef Cookbook (covers Harry Potter, Star Trek, World of Warcraft, Dr Who and more), and The Unofficial Harry Potter cookbook.

For those with more refined palates, Mrs Patmore’s kitchen secrets are revealed in The Unofficial Downton Abbey cookbook.

Cover of VoraciousIt’s comforting to know I’m not the only person to ever ask the “what books could I eat?” question either, in fact a book by a former pastry chef turned butcher asks just this…and what’s more provides some recipes in answer which can be found in Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books.

There’s also a photographic twist on the same idea in Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals which includes culinary creations from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Oliver Twist, and To Kill a Mockingbird among others.

Meanwhile, there are certain dishes or kinds of food that are, in my mind, inseparable from the fictional characters for whom they were favourites. I often think of the Famous Five when I enjoy a ginger beer, and should I ever find myself in possession of a rock cake I’m sure I’ll make the same association.

What food item from literature would you like to try the recipe for? Bags not Anne of Green Gables’ liniment* cake!

*Apparently very easily mistaken for vanilla extract when you’ve got a cold.

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?!

It’s winter – let’s eat!

Cover of PieIt’s winter and I am not advocating heading for the snow, but to the kitchen. This a winter food rave. You see, for me the best thing about this season is… WINTER FOOD!

Does this grab you like it does me? Steak, Caramelised  Onion and Red Capsicum Mustard Pies from a simply named but lip-smacking cookbook: Pie, by Dean Brettschneider. It helps that the pictures are of perfectly made pastry, of course. Mine never looks like this, more of a patchwork quilt effect. Normally pastry is something I avoid as being too fiddly, but some of these pies are going to have to cross my lips and settle on the hips.

Cover of SlowI have become a bit of a cookbook stalker since working daily with library books. One I came across was Slow by Allyson Gofton. Most of the recipes I had never seen before and that’s always a huge drawcard. I’ve  been a bit wary of using the slow cooker for vege dishes, but the North African Vegetable & Lentil Stew, on page 279,  was a huge success and the eggplant held together beautifully.

Cover of Soup KitchenSmoked Haddock and Shrimp Chowder and/or Yellow Split Pea and Frankfurter Soup from Soup Kitchen have also taken my fancy. The latter sounds interesting, but could have some startling after effects. It’s one of Nigella “Who needs chocolate” Lawson’s contributions. Among the other contributors are Mr “Beep Beep” Ramsay, Jamie “Lips” Oliver, Rick “My Hero” Stein, and Hugh “Three Good Things” Fearnley-Whittingstall is the editor. It’s hard to go past soup and in my freezer there’s Tomato and Roast Capsicum Soup (blended with  a few Jalapeno peppers), waiting for suitable soup weather… and possibly the purchase of a fire extinguisher.

Cover of What's for Pudding?If there’s room, and it pays to leave some, What’s for Pudding? used to be the greeting we offered my poor mother as soon as we had finished the main meal. Two of my childhood faves, Bread and Butter Pudding, and Golden Syrup Steamed Pudding are represented in Alexa Johnston’s yummy book, but Gingerbread Upside Down Pudding or Apricot Betty sound even better.

Hungry now? What are your winter food favourites?  Much used cook books? Did you bring any family dishes from your homeland?

This leaves me feeling and probably looking like a Roly Poly Pudding!

Down with cupcakes: Everlasting Feast with Lauraine Jacobs

How can sitting all day listening to other people talk be so tiring?  Two more sessions at the end of the day, and I was in need of something to perk me up a bit. The Lauraine Jacobs session entitled Everlasting Feast – the title of her new book, unfortunately didn’t quite do the trick.  Perhaps it was because her interviewer Graeme Beattie had suffered an accident and couldn’t be there, so everyone was thrown a bit, or maybe it’s because I was feeling a bit jaded about cooking,  endless hours of watching My Kitchen Rules had taken its toll! I only had myself to blame.

Lauraine’s interviewer Nicola Leggett was also her publisher and was reluctant for Lauraine to go into too many details about stories from the book, she thought that it would be much better if we went out and got a copy for ourselves – not surprisingly! I found this to be a shame, if I had heard more about the stories and recipes it would have probably enabled me to feel a bit more enthusiastic, what we did hear however assured me that it is jam-packed with wonderful tales of Lauraine’s life, the people she has met, Julia Child being one of them –  the characters, events and of course food that she has enjoyed.

I did pick up a few tips. There is butter and then there is BUTTER apparently and it should be kept in tin foil, and if not used at once then freeze it. Bakers and cooks don’t usually converge – you are generally one or the other, Lauraine always has smoked salmon, eggs and a great piece of cheese in her fridge, her favourite ingredients are lemons, butter, salt, and  herbs. Eclairs could well be the next big thing, cup cakes are definitely out!

Chefs on show – Think Library!

CoverLost for an idea for dinner? Richard Till has the answer.

Till, along with fellow Cantabrians Brett McGregor and Jo Seagar, will get you in the mood for Show Week when they appear at Keri Woodham’s Books and Bubbles on Sunday.

If you fancy yourself as a bit of a foodie then there’ll also be cooking demonstrations at this year’s Canterbury A&P Show.

If you want to cut to the chase and just get the recipes, think library and grab a bundle of recipe books or  try our chef and recipe website listings.

Gluten-Free Christmas Cooking

Being gluten-free myself, and not wanting to feel deprived of delicious goodies during the Christmas season, I decided to peruse the Library’s selection of gluten-free cookbooks for Christmas recipes. I was pleased to find a comprehensive selection of recipes, most of them with easy-to-find ingredients, which is always a bonus for the gluten-free shopper.

‘The New Zealand Food Allergy Cookbook’, by Ros Campbell, has a 19-page  section devoted to Christmas recipes, including such classics as Christmas Fruit Cake, and Christmas Pudding.  Other good publications are ‘Gluten-Free, Sugar-free Cooking’ by Susan O’Brien, and ‘Healthy Gluten-free Eating’ by Darina Allen. Both of these books have traditional Christmas recipes, or recipes which are suitable for Christmas, scattered throughout their pages.  ‘Healthy Gluten-free Eating’ has a delicious-looking recipe for ‘Christmas Cake with Toasted Almond Paste’, which it describes as ‘a moist, succulent cake’ – which (if it’s true) is a rare thing for gluten-free cakes, which can often be too dry and/or crumbly.

This is a quick and easy recipe from ‘The New Zealand Food Allergy Cookbook’:

Brandy Custard

3 cups milk (or milk alternative such as soymilk)

1-3 Tbsp honey

1 tsp vanilla essence

4 ½ Tbsp cornflour or arrowroot

6 Tbsp brandy

Heat milk gently until very hot. Add honey and essence and stir well. Mix cornflour (or arrowroot) in a little water to make a paste. Add cornflour paste to milk mixture and stir until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and add brandy.

Makes about 3 cups.

Cookbookery and Sauntering Gourmets

I’m no great shakes as a gourmet, but I do like to eat – so I cook. My essential guide is a 1997 permutation of the Edmonds (pages most decorated with food – Afghans). Here are my favourite cookbooks – even an ungifted amateur like me can conjure up yumminess galore with these stalwarts:

  • Fast vegies Australian Women’s Weekly – the cauliflower soup recipe is helping me use up old vegies in the fridge, getting the vegetable intake up and what is winter without soup?
  • The Moosewood Cookbook Mollie Katzen – originally bought for a poppyseed poundcake recipe but lots more to love in this classic which is focussed on natural foods
  • The Crabtree Bakery Cupcake Book Jennifer Graham – gastroporn at its most pretty
  • The Best of Alison Holst – the Mummy of them all, hearty menu mainstays to the fore.

I’m also looking forward to exploring Miss Dahl’s voluptuous delights – Sophie Dahl is possibly the only woman who could out ‘volupt’ Nigella Lawson.  And I have Bake by Allyson Gofton out of the library, but I think I need to get one on my bookshelf. Sheer damn baking genius.

How about some of you more gifted in the culinary arts reveal your faves?