20 August 2012

random recipes :: money from old rope

There's a talent I admire. It may not be big and it may not be clever, but people who are able to, almost literally, make money from old rope? They deserve the props.

Those designers who charge twice the price for past season jeans with newly incorporated rips? If punters are daft enough to go for it, then why not. The genius who had the idea of putting tiny handfuls of raisins into little matchboxes and flogging them (at a billion times the price of a big bag of raisins + an Ikea tub) to harassed parents labouring under the misapprehension that it's a healthy snack because the box is mostly green? Thoroughly deserving of his or her convertible. It's not that I like the product necessarily* but I admire the gumption. And I really like the word gumption (apparently a Scottish word incidentally).

The recipe book world is full of such examples - cooks and food writers making money out of either a) tweaking recipes so generic that no-one can claim the intellectual property and publishing them between glossy covers for £17.99, or, b) giving you recipes on how to pour boiling water over [a teabag/egg/pasta/rice/insert blithering obvious] and publishing them between glossy covers for £17.99. I'm not criticising it - I just wish I'd thought of it first.

My Random Recipe selection this month is kind of one of those. But in a good way. Having (rather obsessively) numbered all my recipe books last month for Dom's Random Recipe challenge, it was nice and easy to use a random number generator to pick a book for this month. It chose number 6: Jamie's 30 Minute Meals (so we're already getting a meal rather than a recipe for this one) and page 55: spaghetti in tomato sauce, garlic bread, salad and melted chocolate puds (obviously he used fancier words like puttanesca and ganache, but you get the idea).

I had an old friend coming for the weekend, so this would be perfect. We would cook it together on Friday evening. We are both more than capable of making red gloop, garlic bread, salad and melted chocolate without Jamie's assistance, but we followed his instructions anyway (more or less) which naturally meant that it made twice the mess it needed to, took at least three times his estimated 30 minutes, and some vital kitchen equipment perished in the chaos. (My darling friend is a ham-fisted klutz,** but I'm trying to forgive her.)

Like everything I've made from this book, it was very tasty. You simply can't fault him on that. But a plate of quick spaghetti, garlic bread, and homemade version of a Gu pot was never going to exactly set the gastronomic heather on fire. Mind you, the fennel and radish crunchy salad really was a tasty new idea that I wouldn't have had myself.

No wonder JO's a squillionaire though. I own a book in which he tells me how to make garlic bread and melt chocolate. I spent my (husband's) hard-earned on it. I use it. And I tell people how tasty it is. Talk about money for old rope, the man's a genius. Now I'm off to work on my big idea.

To read more random recipes (usually by people who remembered to photograph their plates BEFORE they ate) hop over to Belleau Kitchen at the end of the month.

* Yeh, yeh, naturally I have, in my time, bought both.
** I suppose there is technically no such thing, the ham and the Yiddish and all...


  1. ahhh well, you've discovered the secret to the success of these billionnaires... keep it simple and let the great un-washed think you're doing something no one else has ever done and then make them happy whilst you do it!... i must admit im not a huge JO fan but I nod to his genius!... thanks so much for entering, forgetting to photograph your food and being such a brilliant and witty writer... always a pleasure to read... x

  2. Love the image..looks so prof.and your list of books, need to look at a few of these for sure. Thank you for the bloglink- inspiring indeed and that is what Pierre and I need...all we can get.

  3. I suppose I shouldn't comment on cookery books because I only seem to buy cheap ones from charity shops these days, but there does seem to be a tendency to dumb down lately. Even one or two very original writers have produced very generic and slightly dull books recently. I assume the reason is that they sell shedfuls of them. On the other hand, I'm not knocking 30 Minute Meals because three people have now told me that the book (or TV series, I suppose) has inspired their teenage kids to try cooking something for the first time. That can't be bad.

  4. As a vegetarian I have not bought any recipe books like this one as I find them full of recipes that are useless to us. The meal sounds good though, not surprised that you did not take a before photo! It was obviously good as the plate is empty.


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