Thursday, January 28, 2010

For the LOVE of James Barber...

Print Friendly and PDF Before I started working at the deli I didn't realize how much I knew about food. I like to read cookbooks, and watch shows on cooking, and somehow I just assumed that everyone did too. Some of my favorite cookbooks are more like books than instruction manuals. I remember going to Disneyland when I was a kid, and picking up a Disneyland cookbook. It gave a series of recipes that related to each area of the park.' Fantasyland Tomato Soup'...that sort of thing. I thought it was great! I finally gave it away during my last cookbook purge, but I flipped through it first, and was amazed at how many recipes I remember cooking from that book. I also had the Nancy Drew Cookbook. I think I had almost every Nancy Drew book in the series. Because I admired Nancy, for her courage and smart detective work, I was of course curious about what she ate!

In my adult cooking life, one of the cookbooks/storybooks I still adore, is James Barber's " Immodest but Honest Good Eating Cookbook" With a story before every recipe, and titles such as 'Chicken Wings are Cheap' and 'Lamb Chops Sofia' is simply wonderful. It has millions of little mistakes that have caused me to screw up the simplest of recipes, but I love it anyway. I remember watching James Barber's cooking show on TV. It was called 'The Urban Peasant' and he had the nicest way of making you believe that you could cook, no matter what. He was on TV long before the Food Network, and I thought he seemed like such a cool old guy! He was always shopping for groceries on Granville Island, and bringing them home to his groovy loft in Gastown, and cooking for beautiful young women, and drinking wine in the afternoon. He was sort of an older, Canadian, Graham Kerr ( The Galloping Gourmet!) As far as Food Writers go, I am a big fan of Nigel Slater. He speaks about food from the point of view that you should cook whatever you are craving. Food as pleasure AND sustenance. His approach to cooking is also incredibly relaxed. His books have beautiful photos, that make you hungry just looking at them! I just bought 'The Kitchen Diaries' by Nigel Slater. It is a one year account of what he cooked and ate, complete with story and recipe for that day. I am planning to start it I can follow it along for the year.
Please let me know about your favorites...send me a comment!

Here is one of my all time favorite James Barber Recipes. It is from the Good Eating Cookbook, which I believe is out of print...but check your favorite second hand book shop...or your local library. When I make this recipe...far less often than I used to, as I have no desire to re-gain my 40 pounds. I leave out the oil, as there is plenty of fat in the chicken skin...but do as you like...

Cut chicken wings into 3 pieces. Place chicken pieces in a pan and cover with 1/4 inch of water. Add 4 TBSP of soy sauce, 4 TBSP vinegar, 1TSP cayenne, 1TSP hot mustard, and 2 TBSP sugar. Boil vigorously. When water is reduced by half, add 2 TBSP oil. Turn wings frequently and reduce heat to medium. Chicken will turn dark brown and sauce will become sticky. Sprinkle cooked chicken wings with sesame seeds.

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