Christmas Book Flood | Recommending reading

5 January

Book of the day

poorcookPoor Cook: Fabulous Food for Next to Nothing
Caroline Conran and Susan Campbell
(UK: Clearview, 2012)

This title provides the perfect way to reduce the family grocery bill and at the same time produce simple classic food. It features over 300 classic recipes that you can’t find in modern cookery books, such as baked eggs, kedgeree and kidney pudding.

Recommended by:
Judith Robinson, teacher and food writer, Food that Builds Community (food blog)

Judy says: ‘Most of us have received cook books as gifts, and one I cherish was presented to me back when I was a penniless new immigrant to England, trying to grasp the fact that I would never understand Anglo-English, and coping with its wonderfully weird horizon-stretching customs. At this time a friend gave me Poor Cook by Campbell and Conran. It’s full of truly English recipes unsullied by “vulgar Americanisms”. If you are trying to get to grips with the UK, as I was as an American in 1973 (and God bless your attempts), this might crack open the door a little way on the World that is England.

‘I still cherish its curling yellow-edged pages, its food-splotched recipes. Why? My friend Anne, the donor, has written her comments on her chosen favourites. When I see “v. tasty” or “delicious hot, or cold, v. tender” it gives me a clue to what I’m cooking. Her distinctive hand writing reminds me of our long standing friendship’

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine, or via Amazon (Poor Cook) or Abebooks (Poor Cook)
Available in the USA via Abebooks (Poor Cook)

Judy writes non-fiction books and publishes articles about food recipes and their role in building relationships at her blog, Food that Builds Community. Here is her posting from 31 December 2016 about Toffee Sauce, for pouring liberally on vanilla ice-cream – taken from Poor Cook: ‘Don’t start your diet yet‘ – which surely is a ‘recipe for making friends’.

Read Judy’s blog and follow her at Twitter:
Foods that Builds Community (Twitter: @FoodsTBC)

red-bk-mid-leftFacts of the day

5 January

1895 French artillery officer, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, was convicted of treason in a secret court martial. Accused of being a spy, he was publicly stripped of his rank and banished to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island in French Guiana.

This sentence was later overturned when the real culprit come to light, but not before a cover-up scandal ensued known as the Dreyfus Affair took place. The real spy was initially protected on account of Dreyfus being Jewish.

After a second trial in 1899, Dreyfus was again found guilty but was soon pardoned after a public outcry. The guilty verdict, however, was never expunged from public record, so Dreyfus’s honour remained tarnished despite his innocence.

New Year

The early Romans celebrated 1 March as New Year’s Day. Other cultures used the autumn equinox or the winter solstice to mark the new year.


J K Rowling is one of the most famous authors in the world, but this name is actually a pen name. The writer’s full name, ‘Joanne Rowling’, has no middle initial.

When she was first published, her publishers advised that readers may baulk at the idea of a woman writing books about witches and wizards – the Harry Potter series – so they suggested a name change in a bid to increase book sales.

Determined to find a way of keeping at least part of her name, the author decided to camouflage her gender by adding the middle initial ‘K’ as a tribute to her grandmother, Kathleen. Her tactic worked: most of her early fan mail was addressed to ‘Dear Sir’, and many people still don’t know her full name.

Hopefully, the ‘next J K Rowling’ will not have to change her name in order to have a bestseller.

Writers birthdays

1806 André Henri Constant van Hasselt (The Netherlands)
1858 Gustaf af Geijerstam (Sweden)
1885 Humbert Wolfe (UK)
1900 Paula Ludwig (Austria)
1902 Stella Gibbons (UK)
1907 Anton Ingolič (Slovenia)
1921 Friedrich Dürrenmatt (Switzerland)
1926 W D Snodgrass (USA)
1932 Umberto Eco (Italy)
1936 Florence King (USA)
1938 Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (Kenya)
1940 Michael O’Donoghue (USA)
1942 Terenci Moix (Spain)

Jokes of the day

Q: What happened when the snowgirl fell out with the snowboy?
A: She gave him the cold shoulder

Cartoon: Various, Snow cartoons, Guy Sports (Guy Thomas)

Quote of the day

Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind‘A story is a letter that the author writes to himself, to tell himself things that he would be unable to discover otherwise.’