I’m an obsessive, completely self-taught amateur baker, confectioner and cook. I’ve been cooking and baking for a long time and from very early on I have kept recipe ideas and sketches in notebooks. This means I have lots of my own recipes and a surprising amount of experience for someone who doesn’t make a living out of it. Around this obsession I manage to shoehorn in working as a designer/web developer/copywriter at a department of The University of Nottingham and also looking after my family.
I started this blog with the sole purpose of forcing me to write my recipes down more clearly and take ‘decent’ photographs of my food as evidence of what I can do. I confess I’ve tried to apply for both Masterchef and the Great British Bake Off this year – I just feel an overwhelming need to fully prove to others and to myself that I can cook as well as I think I can. Plus, I hope getting to even an early stage in either might give me at least the confidence to pursue food as a career or even give me a leg up into it.
While I’m unlikely to appear on MasterChef (though I continue to hope and re-apply in vain), I do want more for my food, food writing and food illustration. I am constantly on the look out for ways in which I could switch my career to food that doesn’t require a financial outlay, as that’s not an option for me. In the meantime, I’ll keep up with my verbose blog as it serves as a way to capture my most favourite recipes, gives me a chance to share my nerdy kitchen interests and gives my recipes a better existence than buried under my bed in a notebook. If anyone finds these posts interesting or useful then that’s a total bonus and a joy to hear – and please do say by leaving a comment.
I have been experimenting with recipes since my twenties. I’m forty-something now and have never stopped playing with my food. I’ll ‘reverse engineer’ something I’ve enjoyed eating, add an unusual twist to a traditional staple or devise completely from scratch. I particularly like anything tricky, spicy or long, slow and flavourful cooking.
I’m currently trying to improve my photography. I have plenty more room for improvement, but at least it is better than when I started this blog. I apologise for the state of some of my early images: go back to my first few posts – and you’ll see why I cringe! I may try and get round to remaking and rephotographing them as they’re that bad…
I particularly enjoy food that allows me to engage a bit of creativity. This could be switching up ingredients, plating or arranging a dish differently, decorating, creating complex bread shapes, playing with coloured pasta and shapes, adding infographics or an illustration or even making my own tools or props. However, I do need to work harder on plating savoury dishes as I find these the hardest to ‘prettify’. I think this faffing about with how things look is a legacy of my degree in 3D design (theatre): I need to create something with a physical presence, not just drawn or painted on paper:
The science of cooking also interests me, especially the chemistry behind confectionery as there is so much. I’m no scientist and much of it is initially over my head, taking me a while to get to comprehend each new area I read up on, but it’s proving fun investigating and pushing my understanding as I go.
I also am a complete Italophile and adore Italian food, especially making pasta, which I have been doing for over 20 years now, including the artisan handmade shapes and flavoured, coloured pastas. I also think many Italian desserts are just simply world-beaters, but that doesn’t include the over used Tiramisu which I actually don’t like. Other cuisines I really admire and cook are Thai (I’ve been to Thailand a couple of times), Mexican (I’ve also visited Mexico), Spainish (I’ve been to Spain many times), Indian (espescially Southern Indian – I’ve not been to the sub continent yet but it’s an ambition), and other far Asian cuisines, especially Japanese (I have to go here at some point – I’m as obsessed with Japanese culture as I am with Italian). My husband has also visited both Malaysia and China a few times, plus he lived in both South Africa and the US for some time and I’ve been influenced by his travels too. I think really I pick up on the most flavourful, spice-laden national cuisines – I adore hot and spicy!
My other loves are the British countryside and coastline – it’s all just stunning. I adore rambling and exploring my beautiful county of Derbyshire, but other key spots that I love are West Cornwall (I’ve long held a desire to move permanently to St Ives!), North Norfolk (in particular Wells-Next-The-Sea where I spent all of my school holidays in the family caravan) and my newly-discovered favourite of North Wales (Betws-y-Coed and Caernarfon in particular). I’m a bit of a guitar nerd and play electric, bass and classical and taught my twins to play (they’ve since overtaken me!). We have about 14 guitars and rather a lot of amplifiers and effects pedals. I make some of my own clothes and love gardening. I grow a large varierty of herbs, chillies and edible flowers to include in my food, even though I don’t have a big garden I do have a small greenhouse which really helps. Finally but definitely not least, I am devoted to my husband and twin teenage sons – this is the one area in my life I feel I have been very lucky with.
A caveat on my recipes…
Don’t stop here looking specifically for health conscious or low fat – although sometimes such things creep in! The majority of my recipes are indulgent treats and robust family staples. However, despite this seeming addiction to overindulgence, I’m healthy, fit and not overweight. I just like to occasionally eat dessert. And bread. And biscuits. Oh and there may be the occasional very healthy recipe thrown in.
I purposely aim to eat well for about 80% of the time. This gives me some leverage on indulgence and I still look after our health. I cook my family’s meals from scratch, so I know precisely what’s in their food and that there are no additives or other chemical unnecessaries and that we get a healthy dose of fruit and veggies. That allows us to have a treat… or two. It feels fabulous to eat fanciful things, full of fat and flavour. It improves our emotional well being and our taste buds are glad for it. To lessen the calorific impact I tend to bake in small batches and am generous with offering my bakes to others. Basically, if you’re coming round to ours expect a treat.
My personal bugbear in food is waste, so many of my recipes are originally devised to use up scraps of ingredients I have in my fridge. This has been borne out of being pretty broke at times in the past and growing up in a home where every single penny counted. Things aren’t as dire now, but I still have keep a careful eye what I spend on food. I don’t always directly mention that any recipe is money saving, but if you read one that has a bit of this and a little bit of that to build up a range of flavours or has any leftovers or odds and ends of food, frugality has probably been the initiator.
You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram as well as here. I love to interact with people (I’m a bit chatty) so please leave me a comment if you want. Should you want to use a recipe, a photo, an illustration, then please get in touch. I’m happy to discuss working with you, devising a recipe for you, to illustrate or to collaborate.
Lynn Scarlet Clark