August 15, 2011

The books that make our house 'go'

I am an obsessive reader - the kind of person who, before undertaking any unfamiliar task, will read a book that tells me how to do it. When I first moved in with my husband, I had just survived six years at uni on crackers and canned tuna. So I started reading cookbooks to learn how to cook. When we moved onto the farm, I wanted to establish a self-sufficient, organic vegetable garden. Never even grown parsley before? No problem, just find the right book!

I received a wonderful gift on the weekend of The Modern Household Manual. This book has everything you need to know to run a home, including how to sew a button, revive stale bread, clean a washing machine, and rescue a meal that's been overdosed with salt or chilli. So, I got to thinking that I might share with you all the books that make our house 'go' - my very own domestic secret weapons...

For entertaining... Jamie Oliver is God. Jamie's 30 Minute Meals has completely changed the way I cater for dinner parties and gatherings. His meals are healthy, impressive, and fast, so you don't spend half the night in the kitchen. Best of all, everything is served on sharing plates so that guests can help themselves to exactly what they want, and there's no shyness about going back for seconds. My friends think I'm a good cook. I'm not. I just have a really good book.

For everyday cooking... The Cook's Book of Everything by Lulu Grimes. Get an urge to bake your own sourdough bread on a Sunday? This book has the recipe. Need to boil beetroot and you've never even touched the stuff before? No problem. This book has everything.

For vegetable gardening... Our beloved Aussie garden guru, Don Burke, has everything you need to know in Organic. Don taught me how to design, build, plant, and harvest my vegie garden. He even told me which breed of chooks to buy and how to take care of them. He's never steered me wrong yet.

And, when I'm feeling a little more adventurous, I turn to...

...Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen Garden Companion. For the slightly braver kitchen gardener, Stephanie will guide you through how to grow, harvest and cook those little wonders that are normally the reserve of french chefs (think tarragon, chervil, quince, etc). This book is the only reason I'm not nervous about the enourmous artichoke plants staging a takeover of my vegie garden.


P.S. I buy all my books online from one of three places -,, and

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