Saturday, March 13, 2010

Before I begin

Let me state from the outset that I am not a good cook. This may surprise some of you, as I have managed to acquire a reputation in some quarters for being quite good in the kitchen. But I assure you it's not true: If I cooked for you every day, you'd soon learn that I can be a complete disaster. When it comes to baking, I'm on slightly firmer ground, but any successes I have had in that area are certainly not the result of superior culinary knowledge or experience.

I'm not into flashy cookery: give me Alison Holst over Gordon Ramsay any day. I'm interested in basic, practical recipes that won't take forever to make, with ingredients that I might conceivably have in my cupboard, and won't cost the earth to buy if I don't. So that's where the Edmonds Cookery Book comes in.

Kiwis tend to take the Edmonds book for granted. It seems so natural that there should be a standard, inexpensive cookbook filled with basic recipes and helpful cooking information: a book that you find in every single kitchen throughout the country. We say things like "oh, it's just an Edmonds recipe" - 'just' in this sense referring to something commonplace and not terribly special.

But when you think about it, the Edmonds book really is something special. Have you ever tried describing it to someone from another country? I have, and they just don't get it. In other countries, there just isn't a single basic cookbook that everyone has. Americans usually equate it to "The Joy of Cooking", which, while very popular, is also (from what I understand since I've never seen it) massive and quite expensive. So no, not really the same thing.

What I'm saying here is we're lucky to have the Edmonds book. But aside from checking those tricky questions like "how many grammes in 1/4 pound?" or making the tried and true scones and pancakes, how much do I really use it? How many of these recipes have I made? Answer: not many.

I was flicking idly through my Edmonds Book the other day and saying to myself, "That looks tasty" or "I should make that sometime". All the while a little voice in the back of my mind is saying, "Yeah, but when will you ever make it?". For some reason I was reminded of the movie Julie and Julia and I thought to myself, "How COOL would it be to do the Edmonds Book?"

This might have remained just an idea, except I stupidly mentioned it to several people, all of whom were enthusiastic about the idea. It gathered further momentum when I posted my idea on Facebook and got a huge number of comments. Unfortunately - since my plan was merely to do the cooking and maybe post a few photos of my efforts - many of those commenters were insisting on a blog.

So here I am, about to tackle the Edmonds Cookery Book, blog and all. I am not setting myself the 1-year deadline, this basically because I'm only feeding myself and I can't eat that much in a year, but also for the sake of my sanity/waistline/wallet. I'm doing this for fun, and it won't be fun if it's stressing me out. I do intend to cook several recipes each week, but I'm not going to set firm ground rules about that either.

I should acknowledge the fact that this is by no means an original idea. I've stated quite plainly that I got the idea from a movie, but I'm also not the first to think of doing the Edmonds book. Check out for one woman's truly stellar achievement in getting through her 1967 edition in 365 days. There's also "Cooking the Edmonds Way" at, which is a group blog by a handful of people cooking recipes randomly drawn from the Edmonds book each week.

And what do I hope to get out of this? A lot of things really: An increased repertoire and a wider knowledge of cooking, but also a solid re-grounding in the basics; less apprehension about tackling unfamiliar areas like preserving and jam making; a habit of cooking at home and relying on takeaways less often (not that I buy takeaways all the time, just more often than I should) and above all, a lot of tasty food!

So keep an eye on what I'm doing (especially all you sods who insisted on the blog!). Tomorrow I'll select my first recipes and head to the supermarket for the ingredients. I'll keep you posted.


  1. Yay!!! Well done :) I promise to be a religious follower! Good luck!

  2. Wow Robsie, sounds awesome. Doh, I'm not even going to be able to come over and mooch any free food!



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