I have been married 29 years. We celebrated our 29th anniversary on 22nd October this year. I find it amazing that we’ve been married for anything like that long.
More amazing, perhaps, is that we spend so long together. Bar a few hours when I teach or visit friends and relatives, we work, live and sleep within 10 m of each other. It’s okay: I’ve learned to be fond of football, and he lets me fiddle with wool, so we’re good. We also have home life pretty well sorted. I tried ironing, but it really was no good. Peter irons his own shirts now, although for a (very) short period, he did try ironing my clothes as well. Apparently there are too many frills, creases and crevices on women’s clothes. Who knew?
The real separation of tasks comes in cooking, though. I can’t remember the last meal Peter made me, but I’m prepared to think it was probably pie in one form or another (probably Fray Bentos) and chips or Smash. I ate it: of course I did. Since marriage, though, the planning and preparation of meals has been my domaine. I like cooking, especially when I have the time to slow down, relax and enjoy it. I chop, stir, taste, season and serve food with hopes that at least 60% of the household are happy. There are very few meals that everybody will eat or enjoy. I think Christmas Dinner and the leftover-filled turkey and ham pie a couple of days later are two.
And Peter does the washing up. Yes, we use a dishwasher, but most pots and pans are handwash only, so if we’ve had a massive meal it can soon mount up. Christmas Dinner washing up may spread over three sides of our (admittedly) small kitchen. I think today’s book (an early anniversary present) may have been a gentle hint that perhaps there is another way.
One by Jamie Oliver is a selection of ‘simple one-pan wonders’ that Jamie says is “absolutely dedicated to the art of minimal washing up”. It is, he goes on to add “about making your life easier”.
I’ve had a few Jamie Oliver recipe books, and I have to say I like the recent ones. They always include sections on equipment and pantry that set out basic lists of must-haves. The recipes are set out clearly divided into ingredients and method, while a photographic list down the side of the page shows what the main ingredients are. For the health conscious, nutritional information is set out in a chart at the bottom. The books are, thus, easy to read and follow, and I have left recipes out for both sons and daughter to follow at times knowing that between the pictures and Jamie Oliver’s instructions a good meal should be possible.
One has twelve chapters, with nine full of recipes. The recipes are generally organised by main ingredient: pasta, eggs, meat, fish. There is a chapter on frying pan pasta, and another on batch cooking both of which have me intrigued. I don’t know how cheap fresh lasagne sheets are, but I’m willing to try them to make quick, delicious sounding meals like smoked salmon pasta, stracci primavera, sausage papardelle and (my personal favourite) Christmas Pasta. With an eye to costs, I may try the sauce ideas out with pre- or part-cooked dried pasta as well, as long as I’m prepared to use two pans in the process.
Sometimes the recipes use a microwave, but generally Jamie has literally used just one pan to make the meal. In recipes such as the Clementine Roast Duck, the pan is used twice: once in the oven to roast the bird, and then on the hob to prepare noodles and green veg. It’s not a bad way of working, and one that I could see being adaptable to other roast dinners.
Many dishes are fast.. especially the frying pan pasta!… but some need longer, slower cooking and would be ideal for lazy winter weekends with little to do except wait. I like how the vegetable dishes are stars by themselves but would also make excellent accompaniments to meat as well. I’m desperate to make the shredded winter salad to accompany some steak, but that’ll be added to my menu planning for next week, I think.
There are over 120 recipes in the book, but I’d say a good 70% of them are utterly useable to me. That’s quite a high percentage for most cookbooks. Added to that, the fact that some of the techniques and cooking methods Jamie has included have me thinking of what else would work that way, and the book has earned its place on my shelf already. I will be sitting down this Saturday and making a note of the meals to try out: definitely the Christmas Pasta, and probably at least one pud or cake, although whether that is the blondie traybake, honey orange cake or toffee apple buns remains to be seen!
And to end, as usual, a flipthrough of the book.
How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.
I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:
Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better. Lent is a season of rituals and resets. The book has small and easy ways to make your life flow with grace and happiness, which lead to more hygge.
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human. And it’s always the little things.
And if you, like me, like to plan ahead, then my Christmas books are always available: Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas is the basic, all round Christmas hygge book, Enjoying a Self-Care Christmas is about taking time to look after yourself at the busiest season of all and is only available in ebook, while Celebrating a Contagious Christmas was my answer to Christmas in Lockdowns in 2020 but might (sadly) prove useful for a few more years to come. I’m itching to write a new Christmas book, on simplicity, frugality, minimalism and making the meaning of your Christmas more significant, but time, time, time…
If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading, thinking about and living hygge as well.
The photo between post and promotions is by Elena Kloppenburg on Unsplash . I love the colour of leaves against the cream background. I have plans for an autumn stripe blanket…… And the header is a photo of One against the background of my work desk. One, alone, simple. Because that’s how the book works.