My birthday was a month ago, but for various reasons, I haven't been able to post about the books I received. The first book I received on my birthday, from my wonderful husband who is also the lucky recipient of my recipes so he likes picking out what he is going to be eating for the next few years.
Nigel Slater is one of my favourite cooks. He was the one who taught me how to roast a chicken perfectly every time, how to make bangers and mash the way the English like them, and who gave a recipe for lentil soup that is a winter mainstay in our household now. He is an English cook, so I am not able to see his tv shows, though I do copy out his Observers Food Monthly columns often. I didn't know before discovering him that that there were cooks that could speak to us, whose recipes made sense and who I would feel comfortable spending time in the kitchen with, until I met Nigel in Appetite while I lived in England in 1999-2000.
Appetite is his award-winning cookbook, and had just come out that winter. Giving me The Kitchen Diaries, the latest from this wonderful cook, was a real delight for me. In this cookbook, Nigel takes us through the year of a cook and his garden and the vegetable market. He decided to cook with what ever foods he could find at the market that day, and whatever his garden was producing at that time. Seasonal eating, which seems trendy now, although if you buy food at the fresh market stalls, as we are lucky enough to have here in Ottawa, then eating seasonally is possible 5 months of the year. I have done this for several years now, from May until Oct when the last of the harvest is gone. So I am thrilled to have a book by Nigel on how to use the bumper foods as they come into season, how to live rhythmically with the seasons.
I have only dipped into this cookbook so far, and already I've seen several recipes I want to try. Grilled zucchini with basil and lemon, cannelini beans with coppa, spinach and mustard (the picture of this dish always makes me hungry when I look at it!), lamb chops with oregano and tsatziki, Nigel's delightful trifle (alcohol-free!), Chicken stew and mash (for winter days)........mmmmmm, it must be lunch time soon. I will be reading this cookbook throughout the year, so I can try out Nigel's recipes as the food becomes available here too, so I can experiment further with eating seasonally. I'll let you know how it goes.
My other presents didn't arrive from Amazon.ca until this past Friday, thanks to a gift certificate from my mother:
Yes, I treated myself to a hardcover! Connie Willis's Blackout, which I had been intending to wait until it came out in softcover so I could carry it, has had so many good reviews that I can't wait. A very rare treat, and I've already read the first chapter while finishing up reading books for the other book challenges about to wind up. I bought for my birthday:
Blackout - Connie Willis
Diamond Solitaire - Peter Lovesey - 2nd book in the Peter Diamond series
Dido Live - dvd of Dido's live performance in 2004 in England
Lone Star - dvd, John Sayle's dark mystery, which I absolutely love and haven't seen in ages.
By the way, Blackout is book one of two books. It was so huge the publisher broke the novel into two parts, and the second book, All Clear, is due out in October. That's not so long to wait! Connie is one of my favourite authors, and this book is a return to Mr Dunworthy and his time-travelling historians. This time they are going back to World War 2. Here is a review that does not give anything away, at Locus Magazine online.
**I'll be posting on Carl's challenge tonight, after I finish reading A Midsummer's Night's Dream this afternoon. Lovely, lovely midsummer's eve! And Shakespeare.
Happy Fathers' Day and how to bring more books into the house:
It's Father's Day here in Canada, as it is in many places in the world. To my readers who are also fathers, Happy Father's Day. I hope you get some quiet time to read (most likely tonight after those who have made you fathers go to bed). My spouse, who is parked in front of the tv for World Cup football (aka soccer over here in North America) for this month, received two books from me - many of you know he is long-suffering because I buy more books than he has seen in his life. Slowly but surely I have been building a large library of English football books for my love. Today was no exception: he received the England pre-match warm-up kit to wear, as a proud England supporter, and two books:
Soccernomics, by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski
The Story of the World Cup by Brian Glanville
Since England, and now Italy, are on the bubble - they must win their next game or go home early from the tournament - Soccernomics, which I bought some time ago, seems timely with its subtitle: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, And Why the US, Japan, Australia, Turkey - And Even Iraq - Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport.
I hope wherever you are, you are enjoying a book and some footie on this Sunday.
PS May I add my congratulations to my readers from New Zealand? We were cheering for you today, and it was a thrilling point you won today against the Azzuri.
PPS To my Italian readers, I'm sorry, I really am. As someone who cheers for England, you can take comfort that you played better than we did in our last match.