Wednesday, 22 September 2010

How's that for a good sausage

Lately I've been doing a bit of driving about for work, and chose as my one of my companions the Julie/ Julia Project audiobook. I didn't watch the film when it came out - too much blogosphere hype at the time caused my Cantankerous Glands to swell up to the point that I didn't want to see it at all.

I can't say it was a book I would have continued to read if I hadn't been stuck in a car with it, so I didn't regret missing my night at the movies. But what her project, to cook every recipe from a single book, did make me think about was how many of the recipes in my cookbooks I actually make.

Take Bill Granger. (I would love to take Bill Granger. I would pop him in front of a barbecue on my patio, where his presence would ensure perfect sunshine even at Christmas in the North of England, and have him cook endlessly whilst grinning enthusiastically and pouring white wine.) I have several of his cookbooks and I love them. I make something from them most weeks, and he has never steered me wrong. When people are coming to eat, it is Bill I turn to; Bill whose spirit inspires most of the baked goods eaten in the Coffee House.

But looking through my cookbooks, there are two types of pages. There are the spattered, battered pages, and there are the untouched, pristine pages, still as white as Bill's gleaming teeth. These are the pages I never cook from - the pages with recipes that don't feel like 'me', or have ingredients I never think of buying.

Even the pages I do return to are sometimes misused. Once every few weeks, for example, I open the page in Every Day where he outlines Sausages with Caramelised Onions and Parmesan Mash, and then I go ahead and make sausages and mash in the way I always have, completely ignoring the instructions. It's as if I believe that having the book nearby will do the work itself.

This week I changed that. I did everything that Bill said and boy, we could taste the difference.

I'm not setting forth on any crazed Julie/ Julia style project - you won't see me weeping outside the grocers for my lack of snow pea leaves. But I am going to give some of those pristine pages a go; to get me out of the weekly grind that meal planning has become. I'll let you know if I make any discoveries.

What about you? What pages are you never turning?