Forgotten Skills of Cooking

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My new fave book

Irish author and celebrity chef Darina Allen is a woman after my own heart… and not just because she has, shall we say, a fairly flexible approach to meeting deadlines. (In her credits for her latest book, Forgotten Skills of Cooking, she admits: “I once heard my publisher introducing me as, ‘my author who doesn’t start to write the book in earnest until the deadline has passed’. “)

Darina is the founder of the famous Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland and has spent her life promoting her passion for honest, seasonal, organic food. I interviewed her earlier this year, when she was holidaying in New Zealand, and she was charming. Charming and so full of enthusiasm for all those old culinary skills like smoking, bottling, brewing and butchering the odd animal.  (I wrote about this book in my Down Country column in the Sunday magazine last month. Click here to read it.)

With more than 700 recipes, Forgotten Skills of Cooking is worth every cent of its $79.95 cover price (it’s published by Kyle Cathie and distributed in New Zealand by New Holland) I think it’s even better than Nigel Slater’s Tender Volume I (Vegetables) and Tender Vol. II (Fruit). And I think Nigel Slater is the thinking gardener’s crumpet (so to speak), so that’s saying something.

Our wee seedling

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From small acorns, mighty oaks can grow…
If you’ve wondering why I’ve been a little quiet on the blogging front this month, I’ve been ever so slightly preoccupied with the arrival of our little fella. Lucas Sebastian Hinton arrived at 10.11am on June 7, weighing in at a sturdy 9lb 14oz (or 4.47kg). We think he’s pretty adorable. Almost as adorable, in fact, as all the lovely handknitted clothes he has been sent by friends, family members and NZ Gardener readers. Thanks to Jan Freeman for this gorgeous green outfit. How ever did you guess that it’s my favourite colour?

Our wee man

The darling buds of May

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Mini daffs & 'Erlicheer'

Okay, so its actually the 1st of June, but I took this photo yesterday, just as the weather pundits confirmed what we gardeners have been aware of for weeks: the weather was amazingly mild in May. In fact, it was the warmest May on record. NIWA climate scientists say it was almost 2.5 degrees warmer on average than usual, with twice as much rain too. Which explains why, among other things, my crabapples are in blossom, my asparagus is sending up out-of-season spears… and all my baby daffs have burst into bloom.  Strange times.