Bookshelf Travelling – 20th December

It’s Bookshelf Travelling time again, a meme which was originally hosted by Judith at Reader in the Wilderness. I’ve been gathering the posts recently but I think it’s now time to hand it on to someone else, if anyone wants to continue with it.

More Books

The bookshelf above is in the sun room and it’s a mixture of old travel books, cookery books and gardening/nature books.

I believe that The Glasgow Cookery book was used in the ‘Dough School’ which was the Domestic Science College in Glasgow. It was first published in 1962 and it’s a mixture of what must have seemed to be quite posh recipes at the time such as Salmi of Pheasant, and peasant fare such as Pease Pudding. It actually contains a recipe for Dressed Sheep’s Head. The recipe reads like something from a horror film!

The Companion Garden – How Nature can help your plants by Bob Flowerdew is a book about which plants should be grown together. The herb Hyssop apparently wards off cabbage white butterflies when grown near your vegetable plot. If you grow tomatoes beside your asparagus they will keep the asparagus beetle away. I’ve never had enough ground to grow asparagus so I’ve never tried that. In any case there’s practically no chance of being able to grow tomatoes outside a greenhouse in Scotland, but this is a nice wee book with lovely illustrations by Sally Maltby.

Ode to the Countryside is a book of poems to celebrate the British landscape. I must admit that I bought it for the illustrations by such artists as Frank Newbould and Walter E. Spreadberry. Unfortunately the illustrations aren’t signed and there’s no name check for the artists, but quite a lot of the images are like the 1930s travel poster art which is a style I really like.

There’s a Delia Smith cookery book there. I still use a lot of her recipes, you’re never in any danger of having a failure when you use them.

The travel books are about various areas of Scotland, pretty old but not really out of date because things don’t change that much in the more far-flung parts of Scotland.

So that’s that! I hope you enjoyed having a wee keek at many of my bookshelves over these pandemic months. As I write this blogpost the news is that we in the UK are going into another strict lockdown and Christmas as we knew it is cancelled. Worse than that though is the news that it looks as though mainland Europe has shut us off. I wonder how much food the supermarkets have in storage and how long it will take for it to be depleted as no deliveries will be coming from Europe? Just when we thought we could see the light at the end of the tunnel too.

Anyway – other Bookshelf Travellers this week are:

A Son of the Rock

Staircase Wit

Chocolate and Almond Cake

cake 1

This is the most recent birthday cake which I baked for our October Birthday Boy. It’s a chocolate and almond cake, the topping is just melted plain chocolate mixed with white chocolate. I hoped the effect would be sort of marbled but it didn’t quite work out like that, never mind, it tasted good.

sliced cake

Above is a very messy looking photo of the cake sliced, it has a chocolate buttercream filling. The cake is supposed to look like this, light in colour with the flecks of melted grated chocolate in it.

This is Gordon, the birthday boy just after blowing out his one candle, his beard is a new feature.

cake + Birthday boy

I can hardly believe it but there are a few people in my family who aren’t big cake fans, given the choice they would opt for something savoury instead, but this cake went down well with them because it isn’t too sweet. It’s a Delia Smith recipe.

Moist Chocolate and Almond Cake

Preheat your oven to gas mark 7 (425F) (220C) before turning it down to gas mark 3 when you put the cake in the oven.

4 oz (110g) butter
4oz (110g) unsweetened (or plain) chocolate, grated
6 oz (175g) caster/superfine sugar
6 tablespoons milk
4 size 1 egg yolks
4 size 1 egg whites
4 oz (110g) ground almonds
6 oz (175g) self-raising flour


Grease and line an 8 inch cake tin.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat the egg yolks together and add a bit at a time to the butter and sugar mixture, beating well after each addition. Next lightly fold in the ground almonds, grated chocolate and milk, using a large metal spoon.

Now whisk the egg whites together in a large bowl until they reach the soft peak stage. Carefully fold them into the rest of the mixture. Lastly add the flour, again folding it in carefully.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin, level it off and place it into the centre of the oven at gas mark 3 (325 F) (170 C) and bake for about 1 hour or until the centre of the cake is springy when lightly touched.

Allow the cake to stand in the tin for 5 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool.

Decorate to your own taste. I split the cake in half and filled it with chocolate buttercream, covered the sides with buttercream too, then covered the top with melted chocolate.

Delia versus Nigella.

I watched Delia on T.V. during the week and it was just like coming home after a horrendous day out. There’s something so comforting about her, especially the Christmas programmes. Yes, I know that this was going to be a Christmas Free Zone – but we’re in December now so I suppose I should try to get into the spirit of it all.

Delia did go a bit weird at one point and started showing us how to make toast and such like and the tinned mince and frozen potatoes stuff was just horrible, but she seems to be back into normal mode now.

The great thing about Delia is that the recipes are so well researched that they always work, nothing is left to chance. I know that she has a team of people to help with this, it isn’t just Delia. The thing is that the recipes are obviously meant to be tried out at home, that’s the whole reason for doing the programmes. She tells you exactly how to do things and the correct times and temperatures, which is what you need.

It’s nice to see her walking with her husband in his Norwich City scarf too, and I suppose if you are into cats then you’ll be keen on that aspect of it. I wouldn’t mind cats if they stuck to their own gardens.

Nigella on the other hand is a different entity altogether. I watched her programme yesterday morning and yes the whole thing did look luscious but – she doesn’t go into the details of anything. It’s as if the whole thing was just a puff for Nigella and we just aren’t expected to actually want to cook any of the food.

The soup would be easy to replicate I’m sure. Well you can’t go far wrong with soup, but the pudding with the wonderful name of Girdlebuster Pie was the sort of thing that you need to know all the proper weights of the ingredients to get the correct consistency.

Nigella said, “Put some digestive biscuits, chocolate and unsalted butter into your food processor,” – and that was it.

Apparently the Girdlebuster Pie was a staple of American diners in the 1950s and it looked so delicious that I was determined to get the recipe. It wasn’t on the BBC website but my husband managed to track it down for me on The Daily Mail website.

So it seems to me that Nigella is just all about how everything looks. It’s Nigella as the soft porn and the food is her supporting act of pure hard core.

I suppose it’s aimed at men but really the lingering looks and flirtatiousness are taken to such lengths that it has just become laughable. She moves her head very strangely and it was making me feel quite sea-sick. She reminded me of a dusky Lady Penelope from The Thunderbirds. The head movements are just the same but Lady Penelope has an excuse for it – being a string puppet.

So all in all, I think that Delia wins hands down with her home cooking ways. I’m going to have to try that Girdlebuster Pie though. I think I’ll make it for my husband’s birthday cake. He is one of those poor souls who was born on the 24th December. I’ll post a photo of it then.