Guest Post from Mintcustard

Today, I’m delighted to turn my blog over to my sister-in-law. I shall hand you over forthwith and she’ll tell you more …

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As a regular reader of Annabel’s blog I was delighted that she asked me to write a guest blog post. Kindly she left the choice of topic and format entirely up to me. That may of course change in the edit but I’m not precious about that.

Why would I be asked, you might be thinking? Who on Earth is Becky Thorn? Quite right too!

Well, I have to set the record straight and say I’m married to Annabel’s brother. I hope, however, I was also asked as I’m a fellow blogger. I blog at Mintcustard, mostly about food and occasionally about drinks too. In my real life I’m a primary school teacher who happens to have written three cookery books.

Annabel mentioned that I might like to reflect on the books that have influenced me over the years. I could easily have chosen the Ladybird Key Words reading books. Just the right size for chubby hands, my Mum taught me to read using them before I went to school. She released me into a world of my own imagination long before my peers, and for that I am eternally grateful.

I can see in the children I teach how hard some have to work to become fluent readers. A favourite author of mine, Allan Ahlberg, put it beautifully in his poem:

Slow Reader from Please Mrs. Butler, Allan Ahlberg (Penguin, 1983)

I – am – in – the – slow – read – ers’ – group –
my – broth – er – is – in – the – foot – ball – team –
my – sis – ter – is – a – ser – ver –
my – lit – tle – broth – er – was – a – wise – man –
in – the – in -fants’ – Christ – mas – play –
I – am – in – the – slow – read – ers’ – group –
that – is – all – I – am – in –
I – hate – it.”

So “Please Mrs Butler”, might have been a contender

Whilst visiting friends in Ely during a particularly damp half term I can vividly recall devouring a copy of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate factory. I must have been about seven years old and it was the first book I read cover to cover in one sitting. I must have reluctantly had lunch but that was it. Charlie opened the door to a world of longer books, both by Dahl and others. Tom’s Midnight Garden, Children of the Oregon Trail and The incredible adventures of Professor Brainstawm.

I was having a real problem. Which genre to choose, let alone which book within that genre. I decided to do what I do best, pop into the kitchen and have a look at my favourite cook books. It was then that I spotted it. The book that has probably influenced me most. I’m sure by now you have guessed it must be a cook book. Have I chosen Nigella? Does Jamie float my boat? Would Heston ignite my passions?

fun to cookNo, sorry, none of them. I have chosen a book that belonged to me when I was eight and I still have now.

My Fun-to-Cook Book, written by Ursula Sedgwick and illustrated by Martin Mayhew. This book didn’t pander to the young cook who read it. Oh, no. We were encouraged to bake sausage popovers, fry Poor Knights of Windsor and boil sugar to make honeycomb. I did it all. The honeycomb was a little over caramelised but huge fun. The wonderful comic strip style illustrations, with asides from the cat and dog, led us through the recipe step by step. This book helped me to be independent in the kitchen, to take risks and to show off my skills to the rest of the family.

topsyMy signature dish from the book was Topsy turvy cakes. I was a baker even then it seems. If you want to see how they turn out when I make them today then please pop over to Mintcustard where I’ll be blogging my attempts to turn back time.

Thank you to Annabel for asking me to share my thoughts with you. I have had a blast! I’d love to know what your favourite cook books are. Did you have favourites that have stayed with you?

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Thank you so much for being my guest today Becky.  Now, if you’d like to find out how her Topsy-Turvy Cakes turned out, head over here.

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Ginny reads about Chicken Pie in Beckys book School Dinners

As Becky is too polite to plug her own books, I’ll do it for her. To explore Becky’s cookbooks on Amazon UK, please click below:
– Good Old Fashioned School Dinners: The Good, the Bad and the Spotted Dick
– The No-Waste Meal Planner: Create Your Own Meal Chain That Won’t Waste an Ingredient
– Movie Dinners


9 thoughts on “Guest Post from Mintcustard

  1. Our family’s copy of the Fun to Cook book falls open at either the Chocolate Mousse page or, more often (because it’s crustier) the peppermint creams page. We still use both recipes as they are both lactose-free.

  2. Pingback: My Fun-to-Cook book, back where it all began. Topsy turvy cakes. | mintcustard

  3. Lovely post! And I’m attracted by the Fun to Cook book just because of the design! I have too many cookbooks already – a small shelving unit in the kitchen – and I can’t bear to part with some of the older ones (over 30 years old) as I have such a personal attachment to them!!!

      • I have too many – going vegetarian in the primitive 1970s meant searching out any help you could from cookbooks and so I tended to amass them. They really are amazing time capsules!!

  4. Cookery Books? Many favourites – almost anything written by Nigella Lawson or Nigel Slater; they just work every time (though Nigel Slater always understimates the cooking time of potatoes!). I found Claudia Roden inspirational from an early age (teens anyway) and have of course read my way through most of Elizabeth David’s seminal works though I rarely cook from them these days. I own and use regularly many of the regional cookery books written by Rick Stein, and for Italian food I always turn to Marcella Hazen. Where would I be without a number of superb books by Madhur Jaffrey I wonder?

    That’s enough to be going on with I think!

    • However irritating both Nigella and Slater are on telly, their books are great and the recipes work, I agree.

      My go-to reference cookbook is still Delia’s Complete Cookery Course for reminding me of the basics though.

  5. Wow. What a trip down memory lane! I also had that book when I was about 8 or 9, and although I wasn’t that adventurous in the kitchen, I loved the idea of it. Thanks for the reminder of such a fun book. Good post, btw.

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