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Since I was berating smugly photographed cookery books last week, I’ve been having a little email debate with my good friend and prolific blogger Emma Balch over at Doble M Design in Hay-on-Wye about the value of the “lifestyle cookbook”. She said she begs to differ and loves a good lifestyle cookbook with inspiring photography. And actually, when I came to think about it again, I often do too – as long as a) I believe the lifestyle in question is real (ie not when chef is standing in chinos and brogues pretending to have landed a huge fish) and/or b) I am interested in attaining the lifestyle in question.

Today’s lifestyle cookbook definitely falls into the latter category. It is roughly two parts lifestyle to one part recipes but I don’t seem to mind nearly as much because ultimately I am into the lifestyle it paints: living and eating outdoors on the British coast (with accompanying checked wool blanket and wild flowers).

The book is Martin Dorey’s Camper Van Coast. I am something of a canvas camping purist tbh, so even though I get the appeal of the VW porn, it isn’t the main lure for me – it’s all about the 100 recipes designed for cooking on a two-ring stove, something I intend to be doing again before long in my camp kitchen, y’know just as soon as the central heating goes off for the season.

I’m basically never happier than under canvas, fiddling about making tricky cups of tea on a Pocket Rocket stove and planning camp desserts such as bonfire-baked banana with dulce de leche. I am outraged to see that Martin Dorey has upstaged this dish by adding marshmallows and digestives and called it Rocky Road – these luxury-chasing campervanners, eh?

Out now, published by Saltyard Books, priced £16.99.

This is one of my favourite carols, the St Day Carol (or Sans Day Carol), thought to originate from St Day, near Redruth, in the 19th century. It was translated from Cornish roughly to the lyrics of ‘The Holly and the Ivy’ – and I think the melody has a lovely lilt, as demonstrated by these charming chaps with stunning ‘taches.

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas. May your days be laden with Rodda’s and lit by gently flashing fairy lights. And may your mornings-after be quickly and painlessly cured by sea breezes. See you in 2012 – thanks for reading my Cornish miscellany. Back dreckly.

mitch tonks

I have to admit my other incentive to go fish-shopping in Newlyn, beyond an attempt to be worthy, was to use my sparkling new fish app by seafood supremo Mitch Tonks – the world’s first comprehensive fish and seafood cookery app.

At £2.99, this is the most expensive app I’ve bought (ahem, actually it’s the only one I’ve ever paid for, so you could say I’m more of a Fat Booth Lite kind of girl) but for your money you get a slick app, giving you vital fishy stats, yield, fat content, seasonality, tons of crystal-clear how-to videos on scary things like filleting, descaling etc, and access to a growing bank of Tonks recipes.

I interviewed Mitch Tonks last week Read the rest of this entry »

home brew cornwall

Nice book alert. Just got my mitts on this cloth-bound, hardback book co-authored by Sara Paston-Williams, who lives in St Neot on Bodmin Moor.

Loving the eccentric English vibe of tipples such as parsley wine, peapod wine, gorse wine, blackberry wine and ‘Nursemaid Milk Stout’.

Home Brew’ –  £12.49 on Amazon here.

More pics of the book:

homebrew cornwallhomebrew cornwall Read the rest of this entry »

Ever since attending a ‘gourmet wild food weekend’ with Fat Hen near St Buryan last year, I’ve been full of the joys of wild garlic, or three-cornered leek (or Allium triquetrum if you really want to get serious).

This ubiquitous and pleasantly pungent plant (different to the UK’s native wild garlic, Ramsons, which we don’t really get in Penwith) is all over west Cornwall in spring – and is currently bullying its way into a hedgerow near you.

Those fretting about upsetting the ecological balance by foraging should take comfort in the fact that Cornwall Council considers wild garlic a problem species and is actually directing funds to clearing it in some areas.

Foraging for food is a nervy business for beginners – and clearly you need to ensure a positive identification before chowing down – but you can take it from this very twitchy forager that wild garlic is easy to identify. For one, it stinks!

Read the rest of this entry »

p&c january header: artist’s studio Newlyn

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