Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Tuesday's Time To ... Enjoy An Autumn Film, And A New Cook Book

Hello everyone.

I think I am starting to get a little more use to this Mac computer now.  The keyboard still seems very confusing but I am making fewer typing mistakes (I hope!) than I was.  Little Bear has been very patient in showing me how it all works.  Thank you my sweet wee girl!

Today we have been enjoying a beautiful bright autumn day.  Most of the rest of the country has been experiencing more of the dreadful cold, windy, rainy weather that we had here yesterday, but today it has been blue skies, bright sun and gorgeous autumn colours all day long.  Little Bear and I got the chores done very quickly today - I think the sunny weather helped!  It certainly made us feel very joyful as we went about our work and the warmer weather after yesterday was very welcome indeed.

This afternoon we have enjoyed watching "Brambly Hedge" on our faithful old video player.  We were very pleased to discover that we can share it with you here on the blog too - because it is available to watch on You Tube!  Do watch the sweet movie above if you have time - we think they are charming little stories and the scenery is very enchanting too.  They are based on the books of the same titles, written and illustrated by Jill Barklem, and when the cubs were wee, we were very fortunate to be given a beautiful boxed set of them as a gift.  How we enjoyed reading those stories together!  I was so happy when Little Bear found them again recently, along with the videos that accompany the books.

Jill Barklem spent many years researching the nature and the crafts and country traditions that the books and videos feature.  If you are lucky enough to find the books available (some are still in print, certainly in England) they are a delight to look at as the illustrations are so detailled.  Every time I look at them I think I find something new!  The videos are very close to the storylines in the books.  Whenever we watch them we always smile at the "perfect English" that the mice speak!  No one that we know speaks this way!  In England nowadays most people don't sound like the Crawley family in Downton Abbey - we have regional accents, such as the North East English accent that Papa Bear and I have.  But it seems like the TVshow and movie makers still like to imagine that we all sound like the Crawleys.   I wouldn't mind their wonderful lifestyle - but I'm happy to keep my North Eastern roots!

I also found some time today to look some more through my newest cook book - The Kitchen Diaries Volume 2, by Nigel Slater.  It is so beautiful!  Almost every page has a gorgeous, enticing photograph on it, and the text, which is not just a diary but also - and most importanty - a recipe book, is so inspiring to read.  If you only buy one cook book this year, I would definitely suggest this one!  I have the preceding volume also, Kitchen Diaries Volume 1, and it is just as good - if not even better as the photography is really so beautiful.  Truly it is a work of art, recipes aside.

Nigel Slater is a cook who presented a BBC TV cookery show called "Simple Suppers" last year here in England.  At the time many of the recipes featured on the programme, which we all watched together, weren't available online or in any of his other books, so it was quite frustrating, especially when Papa Bear mentioned more than once that he would like to try some of the dishes that were shown.  I tried to invent my own versions and some of them were quite successful, but I was so pleased when I saw in my new book that all the recipes from the show are featured in the book!  How happy I am to know that now I can make them all!  I'd love to try to cook each one that is featured in the book in the order that they appear - they make use of seasonal, natural ingredients - no canned soup or processed food in Nigel Slater's cook books - but some of them are not very cheap.

However his approach to cooking is definitely one that is worth trying to emulate, even if we can't afford to eat as he does.  Good food doesn't need to be complicated, and it doesn't need to be fancy - a few simple ingredients, prepared carefully, can be just as enjoyable to eat as something that took hours.  It seems to me that his idea of cooking is more about the gift of creating something for other people to enjoy - whether it is a Christmas lunch, or a simple sandwich or bowl of soup.  It's about the combination of the right ingredients, and not making them into something too far removed from their natural state.  To me this cook book is really inspiring - and making me want to rush downstairs into my kitchen as I write!

Hopefully my laptop is fixed now, so I will be back to writing in more detail soon, and with proper pictures too!

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