‘How lovely of you to come to visit me at the bookshop I run with my father, “Crooks and Cooks”. As you know, downstairs he has just about every crime book you could imagine, or want. That’s his passion, you see – murder and mayhem – on the page…not in real life. He wouldn’t like that at all. But up here, on the first floor, this is the “Cooks” part of the bookshop. Come on in and make yourself comfy. I know a lot of people want to ask the same questions when they arrive, so how about I tell you a bit about myself, and then you can browse the shop? Lovely.
|Welsh lamb with roasted tomatoes|
Well, I dare say you remember me from my time on TV as “The Curious Cook”. It ran for a few years on BBC Wales, and across the UK. I had great fun making the shows, because my love – my absolute passion – is, and always has been, food. When I was invited by the BBC to create a series of progammes featuring the traditional recipes of Wales, I jumped at the chance. A lot of people seem to think all we eat is cawl….that’s soup to those not from Wales, by the way…but traditional recipes have sprung up all around Wales and, like most traditional fare, they represent the ingredients that were fresh and local to those who developed the recipes over hundreds of years. So, yes, bearing in mind there are many more sheep in Wales than people, we have a lot of recipes featuring lamb and mutton. However, Wales has a long coastline, considering its landmass, so there’s a wide variety of seafood and shellfish recipes too. We’ve also always grown staple crops of grains, vegetables and fruits too, so there are a good many recipes for baked goods.
|Locally produced in Wales|
I enjoyed traveling Wales hunting down all the old ingredients, then developing recipes home-cooks could use today. It’s interesting to note that most cultures have a range of recipes not only dictated by their local ingredients but also often influenced by their local cooking fuels. For example, the Scots and the Irish tend to cook slowly for long periods of time, due to their ability to gather peat and thereby have a free method of cooking that produces relatively low levels of heat for long periods of time. In Wales, once we’d got beyond chopping down trees, our main source of cooking fuel was coal; coal fires were set beside small iron ovens allowing for braising and baking. Because of the fumes from coal, it wasn’t a suitable fuel over which a person could place an open rack for grilling, so griddles or flat iron plates were used, allowing for pots to boil happily for many hours, or for items to be cooked directly on the flat-topped griddle.
|"Murder & Mayhem" bookshop|
|At "Murder & Mayhem" bookshop in Hay-on-Wye - an inspiration!|
Find out more about the odd things happening at the “Crooks and Cooks” book shop run by Val and her father Bryn Jenkins in Hay-on-Wye in THE CASE OF THE CURIOUS COOK published on March 1st: the ladies of the WISE Enquiries Agency are called in to investigate by Val and her father and, as they try to unravel this puzzle from their base at stately Chellingworth Hall, they then get embroiled in another when they come across a valuable book of miniatures which seems to be the work of a local famous artist, murdered by her own brother. Are the cases linked and why do both mysteries lead to a nearby old folks’ home? The WISE women are on the case – and nothing will get in their way . . . Or will it? https://www.amazon.com/Case-Curious-Cook-Publishers-Enquiries/dp/0727886681/
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