in my kitchen December 2014

In my kitchen, there are no smells of gingerbread and cinnamon and all things pre-Christmassy. The blogsphere may be entering the festive period with butter biscuits, gingerbread houses, stollen, panettone, julekage and cinnamon scrolls but not in my kitchen. Perhaps next week or the week after that.

In my kitchen


cinnamon stick Christmas tree


… there are no festive decorations apart from this cinnamon twig Christmas tree. In my imagination, this will be transformed into a thing of beauty when it’s decorated with bunches of herbs and tiny sparkly decorations. Doubtless, when the fairy descends to cast this magic, she will also pick up the discarded coats and damp gloves that the workers from the Christmas Barn sling over chairs or by the Aga to keep warm and perhaps she could also sweep and wash the floor, empty the bin and do the washing-up. My kitchen is not a pretty sight at the moment.


In my kitchen, there is no stack of new cookbooks. I’ve noticed that many IMK bloggers write about the cookbooks they’ve acquired but I’m getting rid of them. About six months ago I decided that too many of the cookbooks on the shelves were pretty to look at but had few recipes that I actually wanted to cook. Added to that, it seems that the more famous the author, the more likely that their recipes didn’t work for me. There were books that I rarely used and others from which I used only a few recipes. Looking through I also found the same recipe replicated by many authors with just a pinch of this and that changed and even worse, some authors write a recipe for Book 1, then tweak it ever so slightly, thus justifying a new page and glossy photo in Book 2. Enough is enough. I dispatched the books to charity shops, offspring and to use for jelly printing and haven’t missed them since. My favourite cookbooks have remained and I studiously avoid the cookery section of the bookshop (though I still borrow cookbooks from the library) and most of my inspiration now comes from blogs. I trust bloggers more, especially when people like Glenda test, test and test again until they’re happy with the recipe. Anyway, often I just want an idea for what to cook for supper rather than an actual recipe.


In my kitchen …

There is beautiful fenland celery (that tastes way better than the imported pap we usually have) to make a salad with walnuts and crisp English apples, a ham is bubbling away in a saucepan and a batch of shortbread is cooling in the baking tin. Of course there’s bread too. There’s always bread. A batch of sourdough loaves baked in tins for sandwiches and some burnt looking bacon, cheese and spiced crabapple rolls inspired by Jane.

What about you? Do you buy cookery books? Do you follow recipes or just use them as a springboard?

Once again, I’m joining in with Celia’s In My Kitchen series at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial as we tour the world to see what everyone has in their kitchen this month. If you have the time, check out some of the different blogs that are listed on Celia’s page.

36 thoughts on “in my kitchen December 2014

  1. Annie says:

    I often think of joining ‘In my kitchen’, but my posts would be more like this one than those full of new recipe books and complicated meals. My favourite cookbook is a collection of recipes from Farmers Weekly many of which go back to the 30s and 40s, I am really not your gal if you’re talking celebrity cooks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Helen says:

    Cookery books are generally for inspiration, unless I am making something of a type I’ve never tried before (eg the first time I made jam or Spanish omelette). I think the more experienced you become, the easier it is to know how a dish can be made without following the details that work for someone else. Anyway, I’m an experimenter…. Had some amazing flops as well😉.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Marian@Apricot Tart says:

    Anne, I can smell those wonderful aromas of your baking from here! I agree that many cookbooks are for inspiration only! I have a favourite few that I would save from a fire however! Best wishes for a wonderful festive season!

    PS: I just love your Christmas tree decoration and must give it a go!


  4. Selma's Table says:

    Your bread looks divine and how adorable is that cinnamon tree?! I have rather a lot of cookbooks and now tend to use them as a springboard rather than follow the recipes slavishly. With age, failing eyesight and dark afternoons it has become easier to Google these days!!


  5. Glenda says:

    Hi Anne, I am trying to work out why I didn’t get notification of this post? Strange indeed. I LOVE cookbooks. I don’t know what is wrong with you lot! 🙂 My sister keeps making comments about all the stuff I have and asking what is going to happen to it all when I die! Who cares! BTW Thanks for the link. You are too kind.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The Food Marshall says:

    You know what? I haven’t looked at a cookbook in years, even though my bookshelf is full of them. I’m more than happy to google recipe ideas, based on what’s in my fridge. I don’t get books sent to me either. I love reading IMK posts like yours, Anne, what’s local, fresh and what’s really going on.


    • Anne Wheaton says:

      Do you think there’s an app somewhere that we could just input what’s in the fridge and it would give a list of recipes? Half a tub of this and a leftover of that – might be interesting.


  7. Jane @ Shady Baker says:

    I adore that cinnamon tree Anne, how clever! I have quite a few cookbooks, some I rarely use & some I use constantly. Some I am quite attached to & others I wouldn’t miss if they were gone. You kitchen sounds like it is working hard…as usual x

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial says:

    With the exception of Jamie Oliver (whom I know drives you a bit potty), I now buy all my cookbooks on Kindle. I do love reading them, but rarely make things from them. Having said that, I do get inspiration and I’m a simple girl, sometimes I just like looking at the pretty pictures. But the shelves are bulging, so I’m trying not to buy too many more paper ones (except Jamie’s as I said, he doesn’t put his books out in Kindle format yet).

    You know, whenever I read your posts, I think, “I’d love to be sitting in Annie’s messy kitchen”. I’d even pick up wet clothes and do the washing up (you’re on your own with the floors and the bin). Love the little cinnamon tree, and I hope you’ll be posting about the big Christmas trees and decos on sale in the barn – doesn’t feel like a proper blogosphere Christmas until we’ve had the Slamseys tree post! 🙂


    • Anne Wheaton says:

      You’re right about the sainted Jamie! Maybe I should stop thinking of the books as reference book and more as novels. Actually, my favourites are the ones like Nigel Slater that have a good bit of narrative and some gentle suggestions rather than ones that just bark out instructions.
      Do I always do a Slamseys tree post? Better do one this year then.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Jane says:

    We have too many cook books, yet the odd new one still sneaks in… perhaps we should have a ‘one in, one out’ rule. Most contain just one recipe that we really use! Love the cinnamon tree.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. dianeskitchentable says:

    Oh I think the cinnamon tree is delightful as is…the spoon definitely makes it. After your kitchen fairy is done with your place, could you please send her over here? We’ve had snow, then warming, then sleet, now rain and plenty of MUD! Glenda does have quite a collection of cookbooks and I’m a slacker compared to her, but I think most of us are since I think she must have every book ever written. I have books that I should donate since I never use them and my biggest ‘cookbook’ is a file folder stuffed with printed pages from blogs and random ideas that I’ve ripped out of magazines. My 2nd most used book is easy to spot Sind the binding has fallen off and needs repair plus it has the most grease spotted pages of any other book.


    • Anne Wheaton says:

      My favourite books are just like yours. Nobody else can find them because there’s not title on the spine because they’ve been covered with packing tape in an effort to keep everything together. If that kitchen fairy ever turns up I’ll be sure to direct her over 🙂


  11. My Kitchen Witch says:

    I do agree with you about cookbooks – many of them have untested recipes and many more with variations of the same thing. I also abhor celebrity chefs. I steer clear of those books based on TV series or by super hyped personalities. However, I do love books and I collect many cookbooks by cooks that I trust (most of these started out as food journalists, so they also write well) and some that are just for inspiration. Generally, I read through a recipe first and more often than not adjust it to our personal tastes. Oh, I love the cinnamon stick tree! It will be lovely with decorations. Great idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. sonja says:

    …the convoluted cook…the substitution queen…and always wondering how to keep track of all the twisted changes… that’s me… a recipe barely repeated twice or shall i say barely tried as it is written…i love browsing through cookbooks, but am picky when buying…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Emily Grace says:

      bahahaha…”…always wondering how to keep track of all the twisted changes” 🙂

      I wonder that, too, and then I move on too quickly. It’s like an annoying pothole in my path that I swerve away from repeatedly. I’d probably miss it if it weren’t there.

      Great comment. Thanks for the laugh!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Margot @ Gather and Graze says:

    I’m always excited and interested to have a little peak into your kitchen Anne, regardless of what’s going on! Love your honesty… I have a lot of cookbooks on the shelf too and you’re right about the more famous chefs/authors having some of the most unpredictable recipe results… frustrating to say the least!


  14. fergie51 says:

    Oh so true about the cook books! I have culled many and only keep exceptional ones, bread making ones and ones with an emotional attachment. Fits thing I do now is onto google and search, never yet been let down. Love that cinnamon stick tree, that gives me an idea…………thanks for sharing, merry christmas.


  15. MamaD1xx4xy says:

    The cinnamon tree is a clever idea! As for cookbooks I don’t buy a whole lot anymore. I try to pin a recipe,when I see it on a blog and rely on review comments which has been successful. I use cookbooks more for inspiration. My favorites this year were two canning books by a food blogger, gotta support those bloggers!


  16. theclevercarrot says:

    You better hide that cinnamon tree before your daughter sells it again 😉

    Oh, and when that fairy is done cleaning your kitchen, can you send her across the pond? We also suffer from a not-so-pretty kitchen at the moment. I have little boys…

    It’s interesting what you’ve said about cookbooks. I go through phases, promising to adopt a ‘one in, one out’ policy but you know how that goes. I’ve given many away over the years only holding on to a dear few. My most beloved cookbook is very unknown- it’s the menu of a small cafe in NYC. It’s the only book I’ve made countless recipes from.

    Thanks for the tour Anne! Enjoy that celery- looks divine!


  17. Ginger says:

    I agree with you on over-hyped cookery books – but I have a range of trusted ones that I could not live without. As for the lack of gingerbread, however …


  18. Emily Grace says:

    Hi Anne! I am so glad you have written about sorting out your cookbooks. I have been looking at my over full stash of cookbooks and trying to figure out how to decide what to keep and what to donate/gift. Thank you for sharing your process. I’m going to browse the comments you have here and gain more momentum to attack that intimidating task.

    Indeed, I most often use recipes just to get an idea of what to make for supper. Lately, though, my Farmer has been picking out some new recipes from a family food magazine I receive quarterly. I usually never exactly use a recipe, but I have thoroughly enjoyed refreshing my everyday cooking with some new suggestions. Since I’ve never made many of these things I have to follow the recipe so that I have a good starting place for personalizing it…if it makes it to next time! 😉

    Love your pictures as usual! I am going to do something amazing today now that you visually mention it. 🙂



  19. Kirsty says:

    I find myself going in cycles. Buy heaps of cookbooks, mostly from bookfairs and weekend markets, then donate the existing ones to charities and the same bookfairs. Completes the cycle I think. The ones lately that I have bought new and cherished are ones that tell a story. Like the Natalie Oldfield’s ones that tell of her Gran’s cooking and baking. Such lovely stories and warm tales of bygone days.


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