Sunday, 30 December 2012

Exciting update!

As promised I have a very exciting new update for you all. In 2013 I will own a house for the very first time!

Yes the pass the caffeine household is a-moving! As you may be aware, this was never really our plan. We had grand schemes for buying a plot of land and building a house. Well after a few years of searching the self-build plan has been put on hold for now. It has not completely left the building, just postponed until the time is right. We have come to the conclusion that given our requirements (rural, large plot for growing veg) we need more money, whereas we can buy a house of the spec we like (rural, large plot for growing veg) right now!

Pretty much as soon as we starting looking at houses we fell in love! We have found a house, too far from work (an hours commute - a lot for me!), and far too big (4 bedrooms - oh yes we will need more cats), but we still fell for it. It is 3 miles from the main road, full of peace and quiet (if you ignore the birds), has only 4 neighbours anywhere nearby, and will be ours! I can't wait.

The move-in date has not been finalised as we only agreed a purchase price with the vendors just before Christmas and nothing has happened since, but it is likely to be the end of March to early April. We need to give 2 months notice on our current house, so this is perfect.

In the next few months I will be sharing with you updates on the move, but more exciting still a guide to moving house! Watch this space if you too are moving house in 2013! I'm also interested in knowing the pitfalls anyone has come across in moving house so I can compile as complete a list as possible of tasks, hints, tips and create a foolproof guide to getting one of the worst tasks you'll ever face completed as easily and calmly as possible!

In the meantime, enjoy your new year celebrations! I will be back in 2013 with lots of exciting ideas.

Thanks for stopping by,
Let me know what you think... leave a comment or send an email to passthecaffeine {at} gmail {dot} com

Friday, 28 December 2012

Book review: Nigella Christmas

So I'm back!

Its been quiet around here recently hasn't it? Sorry folks - life just ran away with me there mid-Autumn!

Lets do a quick catch up - Merry Christmas, hope December was great (I had so many ideas that I didn't share with you), and hopefully the New Year is looking good rather than bad.

So here we are. It is nearly 2013, and while I have some exciting news to share with you in the coming weeks, I thought I would start my blog-rejuvenation with a simple book review. I hope you enjoy.

Nigella Christmas - RRP £25.00

I received this book, on request, as a Christmas gift. I'm a big reader of cookery books, and in my opinion Nigella doesn't just write a cookery book but a work of literary foodie heaven. I'm not a big fan of Nigella TV, she talks too much. OK that is a strange thing to say, but basically I don't have time to watch much television and as food programmes go, Nigella's are pretty low down my priority list. However, I can read her books over and over and over! I have 'How to eat' and 'How to be a domestic goddess', both of which I have read more as fiction than as cookery books, and Nigella Christmas sits in much the same category.

There is nothing spectacularly out of the ordinary in Nigella Christmas. The recipes are fairly standard, the prose takes Nigella's normal self-deprecating tone, and in general she uses a fairly good stab at common sense to suggest taking shortcuts where sensible and longcuts where necessary for flavour and good old fashioned eating pleasure. Better still her writing appeals to my sense of 'all out Christmas', even if her decor doesn't quite:

"The fresh snowfall of icing sugar on top might seem seasonal enough, but not for me. So I add some edible glitter in Disco Hologram White."
- Christmas Rocky Road

Yup. That's my kind of Christmas decorating. 

Another wonderful aspect of Nigella's approach to Christmas is summed up by the recipe 'Fully loaded potato skins'. Potato skins? Christmas? Not an obvious combination, but fully loaded, oh my, yes please! Recipes are quick(ish), given what they are producing, and  pretty much always sound appealing. There is a vast array, all the way from really simple party food (potato skins please!) to the full Christmas day roast. 

Nigella also sets out a Christmas day time-plan which is essential for any first-timer to the Christmas rush. It should help anyone trying to impress their mother-in-law for the first time, as the advice is simple and neatly laid out. The key ingredient is learning to write your own plan, which Nigella advocates time and again.

OK, so there is nothing amazingly new, astonishing or just completely off the wall. This is not a book for a culinary genius to find new ideas. But with the name 'Nigella Christmas' I hope you knew that already. One downside to all of Nigella's cooking is that I think that anything she does not cook regularly herself could do with more kitchen testing. For example I made some of the cocktails and I have to admit, they didn't do much for me! The bread sauce however is simple to prepare and divine in texture and flavour. The layout is easy to understand, is peppered with 'Nigella prose', and lots of hints and tips on making ahead, freezing and time-saving tips. I think Christmas in the Nigella household would taste wonderful!

In summary - if you are a chef, don't bother. If you aspire to cook, fail completely but like a good read, then this is for you. If you are in the middle, take it if you are a cookery book addict (ahem, thats me then), or leave it if Nigella's style does not appeal.

I'll just leave you with the image of me drooling over the pages. 

Happy (belated) Christmas.

Thanks for stopping by,
Let me know what you think... leave a comment or send an email to passthecaffeine {at} gmail {dot} com