Among the headlines in the British press when I woke on Wednesday morning, was the story that BBC Food, a much loved section on the BBC’s home page, was to shut down. The over 11,000 recipes that can be found there would not be deleted, just mothballed, and virtually impossible to access. The statement said that only recipes associated with TV shows would be maintained, and then only for 30 days after a programme is broadcast. Following a petition from more than 159,000 people, the BBC backed down and promised to keep most of its recipes on-line via BBC Good Food, a commercial site that comes under the umbrella of BBC Worldwide.
I do use the BBC Food page sometimes, though usually am drawn to BBC Good Food, which is the home of many a family favourite such as Pineapple Upside Down cake pictured below. The site is the biggest standalone cooking site in the UK, averaging 13 million visits a month. Complaints about downsizing its non-commercial arm focussed on the need for people to access information about food and recipes, though I confess I did wonder if there was a confusion in some people’s minds over the two different websites. BBC Good Food still provides free recipes and cooking tips.
Anyway, for those of us who like to cook, there are some books or websites we return to again and again. These may change as the years progress whether it be due to new influences or dietary needs within the family. For me, moving to Denmark and then New Zealand, has been a big influence on what I cook, as ingredients and seasons differ. Coming here, for example, reminded me of the variety of fish that the oceans can offer, compared to what was available in Copenhagen supermarkets (I cried once on opening a packet of ‘cod’ to find pieces of fish that in Scotland would be sold as cat food).
Supermarket fish counter, Wellington
Personally speaking, I find Pinterest a bit annoying, as invariably links take you to American websites, and I can’t be bothered to convert oven temperatures or measurements most of the time (despite the fact that I follow recipes in ounces, grams, decilitres and New Zealand/Australian cups!).
An old favourite of mine that I turn to often is Nigel Slater. He writes so beautifully about food, that you cannot help but be inspired. Many of the pages in the book below are splattered with ingredients of various sorts proving its worth. A new favourite is local author Unna Burch of The Forest Cantina, who not only has the most mouthwatering pictures to accompany her recipes, but also keeps things simple and doable in the domestic kitchen with locally available ingredients.
Julia Child once said “you learn to cook so that you don’t have to be a slave to recipes. You get what’s in season and you know what to do with it.” And yes that while on a daily basis I don’t use recipes for regular week day meals, I like to try out new things at the weekend. Here is where I want inspiration and new ideas. Let’s face it, nothing beats sitting down with a new cook book, food magazine or (even) favourite website to get the mouth watering and the creative juices flowing.
Sometimes we need a little inspiration
*Title from a quote from Delia Smith: “There are people who claim to be instinctive cooks, who never follow recipes or weigh anything at all. All I can say is they’re not very fussy about what they eat. For me, cooking is an exact art and not some casual game”.