The Cottage Smallholder

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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. tricia ellingford

    Any book by Lesley Bremness is always well worth its weight in gold. She did a television programme many years all about herbs it was in several parts and did a small A5 book at the time. It was thanks to those programmes I became interested in herbs. The one you have just obtained was a later larger version and she also did the Crabtree & Evelyn Fragrant Herbal which is another lovely book. Anything by HFW,and generally any cookery book that is going usually preserving books. I am particularly interested in the Book “Cured” by Lindsay Wildsmith. This is primarily to home preserving your own meat and fish products with some very different recipes. Very refreshing practical advice. This is available off Amazon and has attracted two reviews so far but both of them are excellent. One of the reviews is by a Charcutier who runs courses and is recommending the book to his clients. I have the book Gifts from the Kitchen by Annie Rigg it is a lovely book and has some lovely different gift ideas within the pages. Lets just hope Santa has a big book sack as I love books, very tactile.

    Pattypan (aka Tricia)

  2. louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife

    Another website suggestion – but more for older/secondhand books – . Like Amazon Marketplace, it’s a way to connect with many, many small independent booksellers. There is p&p to pay, but the books often start very cheap (pennies) to compensate.

    The Flavour Thesaurus and Creating a Forest Garden are on my list too. I’ve also got Allotment Month by Month by Alan Buckingham on there and a completely aspirational one on woodland management (Woodland Management: A Practical Guide by Chris Starr).

    Hazel: I’ve got Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz – it’s great, recommend . The only downside is the measurement scales are a bit strange – in millilitres when we’d use grams.

  3. sarahskitchen

    Liking The Flavour Thesaurus, and would love a Companion Planting book but was put of this one as some of the feedback is not very good.
    I got Darina Allen™s Forgotten Skills of Cooking for Christmas last year and have bought a copy as a gift for a friend this year. Purchased last week also from The Book People Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course for my stepdaughter and one for me as such a great saving! (My type of Xmas Shopping!!)
    Have a look at Gifts from the Kitchen by Annie Rigg, looks a great book!
    Or Good Housekeeping – Chocolates, Sweets and Toffees. No longer in print but lots of 2nd hand ones on Amazon. 🙂

  4. Kooky Girl

    Oh yes, Book People and Amazon – two of my favourites. I just bought LaRousse Gastronomique and a children’s cookbook from Book People as well as Michael Morpurgo 16 book collection. I always find great value books at Amazon. I can never get enough books. Happy reading ! :o)

  5. Domestic Executive

    I’ve just pump primed my amazon wish list in hope. There is Nigel Slater’s Tender Vol 2. Vol 1 is well thumbed and like all his books makes you learn about what ingredients go well rather than just following the recipes blindly. Not a book but I’m hoping for the Victorian Gardens on DVD – I keep watching Geoff Hamilton for a touch of nostalgia and fantastic tips for getting your kitchen garden productive.

  6. Not a book recommendation but a site recommendation is as they are good for those of us living abroad as the delivery is free. Thought your many overseas readers maybe interested in that one.

  7. Gottaknit

    Oops – I forgot to say to Hazel, and anyone else who feels the need to smuggle books in – the first thing to do is engineer a minor spillage, preferably on the back cover where it won’t matter too much. After all, they are not being preserved in pristine condition to sell on the second hand market, so a little damage adds authenticity. All the best cookery books can tell you by the stains, which are the favourite recipes.

  8. I have the Ballymaloe Cookery Course book but it is a different version to my mum’s! I also bought mine cheap in The Works. They had a stack but by the time I realised what great Christmas presents they would have made they had sold out.

    BTW, as I scrolled down and saw the Christmas stocking photo I thought you had been busy on your sewing machine already!

  9. Gottaknit

    Whatever books I want, I tend to go to the Book Depository first – they discount – not as much as the Book People do, but their big advantage is they don’t charge for postage, which also adds up to a discount. I tend to keep a wishlist on Amazon, but hope that family will buy from the Book Depository if they can.

  10. The Diana Henry book is on my wish list too, as is Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz.

    DD and I made kimchi for the first time this year and it was delicious (she had to do a presentation on N Korea for a school assignment, so it was a good reason to try it. She served her fellow 11 year olds kimchi and rice as part of her talk!). Making sourdough bread has been on my to do list for ever, so this book might be a nudge to do (more of) both next year.

    I must support 2 of your choices- I’ve had the Lesley Bremness book for years and love it, and I got Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills of Cooking last year for Christmas and promptly read it almost cover to cover (it’s a big book!)

    Oh, I nearly forgot, I’ve also asked for Fergus Henderson’s Nose to Tail eating too! I have HFW’s Meat book, which is excellent, and I think it will compliment that well. And Sarah Raven’s garden cookbook.

    Other suggestions would be pretty much anything by Geoff Hamilton or Bob Flowerdew for gardening, and I love the Edible garden by Alys Fowler and would like her Thrifty Gardener book.

    For cooking, I’d recommend How to Eat by Nigella (less frivolous than her later books!), The English Kitchen by Rose Prince, Beanfeast (may be out of print) and Vegan Feasts by Rose Elliott for tasty meat-free meals and anything by Nigel Slater. I also like The Paupers Cookbook and the Country kitchen by Jocasta Innes.

    I have a bit of a weakness for cookery books :0) I have to smuggle them into the house and hide them, only to produce them later and say “This old book? I’ve had it for ages!” like other women do with shoes…

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