The librarycook almost dived into the  sticky ginger and caramel pudding on the front cover of the June issue of Delicious. If it had been the only recipe that month, thought the librarycook, this issue would still have been worth the cover price.  But it didn’t stop there – leafing through its pages the librarycook found recipe after recipe that spoke to her depths.

Never one to refuse a challenge, the librarycook* cooked not one, not two, but five of the June offerings.  First off the rank, of course, was that pudding. When a recipe includes both a ginger sauce AND a ginger caramel, that recipe is talking the librarycook’s language.  And it was every bit as good as it looked on the cover – in fact, if the publishers of Delicious magazine were to decide to use it as their cover image every month, well, the librarycook wouldn’t see much wrong with that. C:R ratio (Cooking:Reading ratio) – excellent. Forty minutes in the oven was more than enough time to finish Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings, a beautifully written tale of American slavery, based on a true story, and told alternately by one of the slaves and her owner.

But since, apparently, one cannot live on pudding alone (a theory that the librarycook disputes, but that’s for another day), next up was the Pork Meatball Green Curry. This one included a stalk of lemongrass, but if the librarycook is not to vanish into the jungle-like lemongrass plant, all cooking from hence forward should include a minimum of three to five stalks.  That minor, very personal, quibble aside, the recipe more than lived up to its article title – Faster Food – the librarycook has rarely made such a flavourful dish in such a short time. C:R ratio – a bit too hands-on to allow any reading, sadly, but sometimes it is just about the food.

The June issue also brought a new revelation to the librarycook. Sometimes, if the recipes are tempting enough, somebody else will be inspired to cook – a win-win situation. The librarycook gets undisturbed reading time AND cookies. It was the pantry stars recipe that inspired one of the younger members of the librarycook’s household to venture into the kitchen, and emerge quite soon after bearing a tray of choc chip cookies.  This recipe appears to be that unicorn of a recipe – with a basic structure, you can add almost anything from the pantry, nuts, different types of chocolate, jam, dried fruit, or anything else that needs using up. C:R ratio – endless reading time, but if the librarycook had made them herself, perhaps 15 minutes or so.

Next up was another savoury dish – Arroz de Camarao (rice with prawns) – allowing the librarycook to return to Portugal, at least in her imagination, seeing as nobody’s going nowhere at the moment. A bit too elaborate for any real reading time, apart from 20 minutes or so right at the end. Just enough time for the librarycook to dip into The Children of Jocasta, an excellent re-telling of the Oedipus myth. C:R ratio – 20 minutes, but really worth it for the depth of flavour from all that chilli, coriander and lemon juice.

Finishing where she began, the librarycook’s final recipe from the most bountiful issue in her memory was also ginger based.  Why it was called New Zealand’s Ginger Crunch Slice, the librarycook was unsure, but after baking, and more importantly enjoying the slice, the library cook was happy to acknowledge our cousins-from-across-the-ditch’s contribution to world gastronomy.  The resultant slice boasted a crunchy, buttery, gingery base, topped with a warming ginger icing.  Perfect with a cup of tea to enjoy whilst inhaling Ann Patchett’s engrossing The Dutch House.  The final C:R ratio – not great, perhaps 15 minutes reading time, but the librarycook regards this type of baking as an investment for the future, providing excellent fuel for multiple days’ reading.

*or her minions

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