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Sneak preview of my Christmas book wish list!


Photo: Christmas stocking

Photo: Christmas stocking

I’ve spent quite a few delicious hours making a Christmas book wish list and I thought that you might like a sneak preview. Although I’m sent a good stream of books to review there are always others that tempt me throughout the year. Of course if I can find the books on discount sites it’s a real plus as it means more books for less money.

The Book People website is a good start when looking for discounted books. They have some excellent collections that are hugely discounted – such as the eight nominated books for the Booker prize. Very tempting.  And of course there is Amazon. It’s best to check on both sites for the most competitive price.

These three fantastic books would be on my list if I hadn’t already jumped the gun and bought themmyself.

A Taste of the Unexpected by Mark Diacano
Excellent, inspirational and a must for filling your garden with edible plants from asparagus to Szechuan pepper and Carolina allspice. There are tempting recipes too. I ordered this book when it first came out last month and my Szechuan pepper bush the day after. Review to follow soon.

The Complete Book of Herbs by Lesley Bremness
Celia of Purple Podded Peas fame recommended this book to me and I bought it from Amazon for £3.49. A real treasure trove of advice and projects from growing and cooking with herbs to making your own face cream and essential oils. Review to follow soon.

Companion Planting by Brenda Little.
I’ve used this book endlessly this year as it’s packed with ideas. I grew foxgloves with my spuds with amazing results!

Gardening books wished for:
Creating a Forest Garden: Working with nature to grow edible crops by Martin Crawford
If I get things right I could be eating my own bamboo shoots next year! A permaculture book with fantastic reviews.

Erika Pepe’s Lunar Gardening Calendar 2011 This years calender lies rolled on my bed and has been a great companion this year. Using this as a guide produced spectacular results this year. I’m a convert to gardening using biodynamic principles.

In Tune With The Moon 2011 : The Complete Day-by-Day Moon Planner for Growing and Living in 2011 by Michel Gros. This would be very handy as a journal next year.

Cookery books wished for:
Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course only £9.99 from The Book People (RRP £30.00)
This is top of my list and is a must have. Seraphina has attended quite a few of her courses and raved about them. I attended the bread course and learnt loads. I bought Darina Allen’s Irish Traditional Cooking  in Dublin when I was wooing Danny and still refer to this endlessly. Several people that I know own the Ballymaloe Cookery Course book and love it. Everyone needs inspirational tomes.

The Flavour Thesaurus by Nikki Segnit
Spotted this last summer and wanted it. Danny yearns for this too. This is a book that I know would be absorbed and referred to constantly by us both. A must if you enjoy developing your own recipes.

Food from Plenty: Good Food Made from the Plentiful, the Seasonal and the Leftover with Over 300 Recipes, None of Them Extravagant
I rate Diana Henry highly. I love Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons by Diana Henry. You can’t beat her recipes – individual and always good. I like the premise of this  book – less food waste and tasty food. Perfect.

Second Helpings of Roast Chicken by Simon Hopkinson
Simon Hopkinson is well known as the chef’s chef. The books are not filled with mouth watering photographs. Just recipes to die for. A must. N.B. Following the comments below this is no longer on my list!

Forgotten Skills of Cooking: The time-honoured ways are the best – over 700 recipes show you why by Darina Allen
Darina Allen again but why not? She does not pump out  books like a traffic warden’s parking ticket machine. This is only her 6th book and all her books are great investments for people that don’t want to be dependant on the supermarket. Her book Irish Traditional Cooking even shows you how to make bread in a crucible over a fire!

Have you got any recommendations for gardening or cookery books that you would like to receive/or have discovered this year?

  Leave a reply


  1. FRizz1974

    Hi fiona, its been a while – all your home business’s appear to be doing well.. Im so happy for you.

    Really want that Diana Henrybook, have made a couple of recipes from it & LOVED them.

    I love book depo too…. love free postage as we live outside the metro regions.

    For those wanting a astrological calender for the southern hemisphere & particularly australia – I know there are a few of us aussies here reading ther Cottagesmallholder blog – check out

    Thomas Zimmer Astrological calendar and moon planting guide

    by googling it & you will find these amazing calender posters for sale.

  2. Mrs Green @ my zero waste

    Just wanted to say that thanks to your inspiration I am now the proud owner of the lunar gardening calender for 2011 and it’s absolutely beautiful. I’ve always been fascinated in this subject and did try lunar gardening a few years ago, not with much success; I think most successes were the placebo effect if I’m honest 😉 However, even the booklet that comes with the calender has a better explanation than some books I’ve read on the subject AND I finally put together the fact that astrological and astronomical positions of the moon are different.

    Anyway, I hope you get all you wish for and thanks for a great blog 😉

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Hazel

    Just checked out the Wild Fermentation book and it looks excellent! Thanks for the tip. I haven™t got HFW Meat book but I know that it™s highly recommended as is Fergus Henderson™s.

    Thanks for all your tips “ I™ve got the Jocasta Innes books and they are excellent “ but I™ll have fun researching the rest.

    I™m a bit of a book freak too. Can™t hide the arrival of my books though as Danny works from home¦

    Hi Gottaknit

    I didn™t know about The Book Depository “ what a great place! I invested in Amazon Prime and have found it has paid dividends. Free next day delivery on everything. Living out in the sticks I tend to do a lot of shopping online. So Prime saves me a lot of money over the year.

    Love the spillage idea!

    Hello Pamela

    When I lived in London I used to love pottering in remaindered bookshops but never found any of Darina Allen™s books.

    Not had time to test out the machine yet! Still busy planting tulip bulbs.

    Hi Joanna

    Excellent “ thanks for the link!

    Hello Domestic Executive

    Yes I rate Nigel Slater highly too “ have a real soft spot for him. I™ve got the Kitchen Diaries but not the Tender books. Must check them out.

    Hi Kooky Girl

    I™d be interested to hear what the LaRousse Gastronomique is like!

    Hello Sarah™s Kitchen

    I hesitated over the companion planting book and then I spotted that it had been reprinted “ publishers just wouldn™t do that these days if it wasn™t going to sell. I™ve found it simple but effective. I™d like to have a peek at Bob Flowerdew™s book on companion planting too “ probably a better read.

    Gifts from the Kitchen has had good reviews. Must check it out.

    Hi Tricia
    Thanks for all your suggestions! œCured sounds very interesting “ hadn™t heard of it! Blogging is great as it always seems to open up my sleepy world.

    Hi Susan

    I™ve amended my post above and taken the Simon Hopkinson book off my list as it seems to get the thumbs down from everyone. What a shame “ the first book was so good.

    Huge fan of HFW too but I haven™t got Everyday “ yet!

    Hi Pamela

    I agree the book depository looks good. Thanks for your recommendations too.

    Hi Veronica

    The Cranks Bible sounds like a bit of a winner “ thank you. D is coming round to less (and better quality meat) but I don™t have many tasty veggie recipes up my sleeve.

    Hi Sarah™s Kitchen

    Well done getting the Oded Schwartz book for that price! Thanks for the link must check it out immediately 😉

  4. Sarahs Kitchen

    Just to add the Alibris are also good for new and secondhand books. I recently found Oded Schwartz – Preserving (also recommended by Fiona)for £19.57 it is used but far cheaper then Amazon by a long way. I also got new Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills of Cooking just last week for £10.00 🙂

  5. I’m a huge fan of Simon Hopkinson, but I have to agree with Susan that the second helpings book is not nearly as good as the first volume. I enjoyed leafing through it, but I don’t think I’ve cooked more than one or two of the recipes, whereas vol 1 is very well-thumbed!

    Anything by Nigel Slater would be welcome in my stocking. I love his style, which lends itself to improvising with what you have. The Kitchen Diaries is a good choice for gardeners, because it’s arranged by month.

    I’d also recommend The Cranks Bible by Nadine Abensur if you want to reduce your meat consumption without Danny complaining. I’ve been using it a lot recently, and the recipes are superb, original and full of flavour. Out of print, but look for it on (book smugglers: a great place for buying second-hand books at a fraction of the new price, and then claiming you’ve had them for ages).

    I use the Book Depository too — it almost always works out cheaper than Amazon because of not paying the postage.

  6. Thanks for the link to the Book Depository. I have passed it on to my sister who lives in France. Also just had to have a spend myself, so that was my £30 from my private tuition gone in a flash! A couple of book recommendations – The Help by Kathryn Stockett and Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.

  7. I’m interested to search out the Darina books – I don’t have anything by her at the moment.

    I do have Second Helpings of Roast Chicken and have to say that it is one of my least read and used cook books. I find the tone pretentious and the recipes uninspiring.

    The one book that is almost constantly in use in Holly Grove Kitchen ( at the moment is Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall’s Everyday – great recipes and Hugh’s lovely chatty style.

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