In which a Christmas gift has conditions attached *

We are a horribly traditional couple, and no role model at all for our grandchildren.  If it’s jobs round the house that need doing, Malcolm’s your man.  He’s a very handy plumber, and spending the morning fiddling with the electrics presents him with no problems at all.  He’s good at what he does. I’m not even any use as the gopher.  I’ll bring him the wrong sort of screwdriver, and am apt to confuse hammers and mallets.

Cooking however is a different story.  I’ll open the fridge and plan a meal round whatever catches my eye or needs using up.  I read recipe books for fun, but rarely use them whilst actually cooking.  Spending time in the kitchen is relaxing for me.  Malcolm requires a detailed recipe, and if he finds we’re out of some minor ingredient, the planned-for dish is hastily abandoned.  In advance of actually cooking, he carefully lines up, measures and weighs all he needs, just like Delia Smith used to do.

So this Christmas, I’ve given him a present designed to remove cooking-related stress.  Here it is: a whole book of dishes needing only five ingredients, and top of the best-seller lists as well.

Jamie Oliver’s latest book.

Very meanly though, I’ve insisted that in return for the gift, he has to plan and cook a dish from it once a week.

He says he’s up for the challenge. Happily, he hasn’t given me a D-I-Y book in return. No home deserves my botched attempts at repair and maintenance. Instead, he’s given me this: much more my cup of tea.


  • Malcolm says I ought to call this post ‘The Poisoned Chalice’.  I think that’s a bit harsh.

39 thoughts on “In which a Christmas gift has conditions attached *”

  1. Love it! But I think you should at least have a go at some basic plumbing like changing tap washers or fixing a faulty loo flush! But my guess is you can already do those and are just being modest. That Jamie knows how to sell books! Happy New Year when it comes and please keep us updated on the weekly chalice challenge!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, I can do the (very) basics, but don’t get me to put up a shelf. And my need for shoulder surgery was entirely DIY-related. Jamie’s book is excellent and very practical for a cooking-phobic. Chalice challenge??? Happy 2018, anyway x


  3. Oh I love Nigel Slater! (Well not really but you know what I mean).
    Good luck to Malcolm with the 5 ingredient meals, I’m sure they’ll be lovely. Hope he tidies the kitchen when he’s finished. Also hope you’ve recovered from your colds. We went to the coffee morning on Saturday but people were just dropping in so didn’t chat for long, and the coffee from the machine was yukky. See you in the New Year I’m sure x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So there really was one on Saturday? I thought you’d got the day wrong. Malcolm’s much better at tidying the kitchen than I am post-cooking. Yes, see you soon after the beginning of 2018, I hope! x


  4. I’m like Malcolm and Don is like you–he can do anything in the kitchen, without fear! Maybe I should get the 5 ingredient book . . . but then I might be expected to use it. And, frankly, I like things just the way they are! It sounds like your Christmas was very nice!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My husband and I are exactly the same as you and Malcolm when it comes to cooking modus operandi, but that’s where the similaritie end: if my hb goes anywhere near a toolbox, everyone dives for cover 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I treated myself to Nigel’s book – couldn’t risk putting it on the Christmas list 😉 I love his writing and this book is beautiful. Kudos to Malcolm; I wonder if I could get Bernie on a similar challenge. (We have a similarly traditional division of labour (though my culinary confidence does not approach yours.)

    Hope you’ve had a good Christmas, Margaret. Wishing you all a very happy and healthy year ahead 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Michael does the home maintenance stuff. His plumbing skills leave a bit to be desired but if it was down to me, I’d have to ‘get a man in’. 🙂 🙂 He doesn’t cook at all but will happily watch a cookery programme, and then go and get a bag of crisps! Just think of the culinary wonders you might have next year 🙂 Whatever comes, I wish you good health and happiness.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I do most of the cooking in our house but Richard does cook once a week or so which is very nice. He likes making stews and casseroles but will try most things if he has to. He isn’t so keen on clearing up afterwards but I forgive him for giving me a day off from a chore I dislike. I cook well because I would be ashamed to do otherwise but if I was ever rich enough to employ someone to cook for me I would go for it like a shot! But they would have to cook better than me! I love Nigel Slater’s writing and I like his TV programmes too – he makes me feel I ought to enjoy cooking! But no – I’m still as tense and unhappy as ever.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a shame. Malcolm understands you completely. I wonder if I enjoy it because I was ‘helping’ cook from about the age of four? One of my early memories is of mixing the Christmas cake. Well done you for cooking well even though you hate it so. However, I share your pain whenever DIY gets mentioned ….

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Recipes with only 5 ingredients are my kind of recipe. I tend to think that some recipes are overly complicated – and probably a reason that I tend to improvise like you do. Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What did Malcolm cook in his first foray? I don’t know why JO is so maligned in some quarters, his recipes are terrific and every one I’ve cooked has always worked a treat. I love the new Nigel Slater, it’s a great read, and I’m only sorry I’ve missed all those German Christmas markets he wrote about. Maybe next year … Happy New Year to you and yours. Lx


    1. He did a terrific noodle dish which he has added to his repertoire. Yes,JO is one of the good guys in lots of ways. He wasn’t put on this earth to be a wordsmith, but he gets lots of good things done anyway. NS is my current bedtime story.. with lots of bookmarks for recipes. Happy New Year! Hoping to make it to Suffolk in 2018! X

      Liked by 2 people

  11. I love this post. And within two hours I encountered the Jamie book twice…. saw the Graham Norton show on YTube and now you…. Made me grin. Sadly, Hero Husband is so incredibly more talented in eating everything I can cook up than doing domestic work! 🙂
    I am in the process of thinking about what to get rid off in order to sell our home – as I have at least 60 beautiful cookery books (incl a few Olivers and at least one by Slater) but already I’m seriously tempted to get the one or both of them….. In fact I don’t need any cook books; I don’t go by recipes I only read them for the sheer fun and to feed my eyes on the glorious photos!
    Chuckled at Malcom’s verdict of this post’s title…. 😉
    In case we don’t speak anymore in 2017; have a wonderful ‘finish’ and then to many joyful, interesting, honest rendez-vous in 2018. I’m so glad to have found you. Kiki

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh thank you! I return the compliment! I recently took a long hard look at my cookery books and have tried hard to get rid of some. So hard when they come with memories attached, or just one or two good dishes within. But you can do it. You may have to…. Good luck with moving. That’s not so much fun. But here’s to good things for all of us in 2018.


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