Do you ever hear about those people for whom receiving something of a household persuasion under the Christmas Tree would be grounds for divorce? I'm not one of them. Kitchen gadgetry? Bring it on. A new recipe book? Itching to test it out.
In fact, I derive as much pleasure outside of the kitchen from my cookbook collection (in all its colour coded glory). I have a special bookcase devoted to my recipe books. Some are old workhorses - an original Delia Smith's Cookery Course in three volumes - still my go to choice for the measurements for yorkshire puddings or custard. I own multiple titles from my favourite cookery writers - Nigel and Nigella - national treasures both, for their ways with the words they write as much as for the recipes they suggest.
There's not physical space for too many more. But I cannot help acquiring them. So it should be no surprise at all that when the nice folk at WHSmith asoked if they could send over a book for me to take a look at, that I found myself happy to oblige. And they chose for me a great volume - River Cottage everyday.
I'm showing you the back cover, not as much for the beetroot salad, as much as for those little line drawings added onto the plate. The whole book is full of them - like doodles in the margin. Which appeals to me hugely, as I am always scribbling in my cookbooks. Jotting down tweaks to a recipe, or the date I first tried it, or who I've fed it to if it is more of a special occasion dish. Making suggestions to myself for a good accompaniment the next time I cook it.
This, for me, is why an internet search for a recipe will never completely replace owning a volume and why my bookshelves will continue to groan under the weight of yet another book full of things which have been sampled, or ones I long to try. Which in the case of River Cottage everyday includes Tupperware Mexican chorizo, Honey Wholemeal cake and Egg tartare. Not all at the same sitting, I hasten to add.
Parcels shaped like books are always a welcome addition under the tree. Luckily for me, hubby views them as the gift which gives twice - the pleasure of reading for me and the obvious benefits to them as resident taste testers. But Santa, a bookshelf extension wouldn't go amiss either.
What is your cookbook crush of the moment? Just in case the big red guy needs a little steer.