Book review: Under a Mackerel Sky, Rick Stein

rick steinThis September, our first ever book club is starting with what you might think is an unusual choice, Rick Stein’s memoir, Under a Mackerel Sky. Here’s what I made of it. Feel free to add your comments below!

Buy it here at Amazon!

When I saw this memoir for sale at WHSmiths, I bought it without a second thought. I have really enjoyed Rick Stein’s books and TV programmes over the years, and actually feel he has, in a tiny way, influenced what I do for a living now. I’m a bit of a fan, shall we say. When I first saw his programmes, especially the Food Heroes series, it made me properly engage with food and provenance for the first time. I decided to only eat free-range meat. Then I started an online local food directory, which a family member now runs. After that I started a food blog, and now this site…

I identify with this flawed but very likeable, intelligent entrepreneur, always have – perhaps because he wears his heart on his sleeve, as I like honest people, even if they are far from perfect. Reading this funny, sad and enjoyable memoir has only made me like him even more… (more…)

We say… bollocks to the baby brain!

Bollocks to baby brain coverIf you were smart before you had kids, you don’t need me to point out that you still are. There are a lot of childbirth horror stories out there but I’ve never heard of a labour so gruesome that the hospital cleaner was left fishing the mother’s brain cells out of the birthing pool. So why do some of us feel so intellectually inadequate after we’ve had children? (more…)

Asian style sweet potato and squash soup

asian style sweet potato squash soup cover

Ahhh, this soup! You won’t BEEE-LIEEVE how good it is. And it has nothing, nowt, nada ‘bad’ in it. It is a bit Asian in influence, as there is ginger, garlic, coconut milk in it, as well as cashew nuts to make it thick and protein rich. I serve it with a scary amount of fresh coriander and sliced red chillies on top, and a BIG ol’ slug of sesame oil – it’s a great way to eat it for adults. My kids loved it too though, just without the chilli and coriander (herbs look too much like vegetables for their taste). (more…)

5 of the best… boyfriend jeans

boyfriend jeans cover

I am obsessed with jeans. I wear little else really. Normally, as in 90% of the time, I wear a skinny jean, as they suit me best being tall and with a boyish style. However, a newish (newish if you’re totally non hip like me) jean has “hit the scene” (I told you I was seriously uncool, and there it is right there in that sentence…) (more…)

The ’60s had nothing on the ’90s

1990s cover

I’m a woman who ‘came of age’ in the 1990s. My formative years were spent under the cultural influence of Britpop, Girl Power, Heroin Chic, Grunge, Trainspotting, The Word, The Girly Show… I could go on and list all my favourite 90s things, but I won’t, you get the picture. It was all about hedonism and rebellion. (more…)


kedgeree coverKedgeree is a faffy thing to make all in one go: you have to steam fish, cook rice, hard boil eggs – and that’s before you’ve even assembled the dish itself. I was making it for dinner the other evening and it occurred to me that, despite its faffiness for dinner, it’s a perfect prep-ahead lunch/brunch. (more…)

5 of the best… classic white shirts

white shirts coverWhen you’re a mum, you have so much going on in your head in the morning. For me, at the moment, my daily challenge is getting my 4 year old to school and 2 year old to preschool, on time, dressed correctly, having eaten a nourishing and low sugar breakfast to keep them going until lunch, without smears of breakfast condiment on their faces, teeth brushed, hair (kind of) brushed, bags with correct things in: signed slips returned for him; spare pants in case she wees herself for her… God it’s hard work. My husband is more often than not already at work by the time we get up so it’s all down to me. At least I don’t have to think about making sandwiches, thank God for free school meals… (more…)

8 amazing BB creams for busy mums

BB creams coverBefore I became a mum I loved my morning routine. Every day my skin would be prepped and primed. My eye-liner would be flicked and my blusher would be blended. I’m not saying I rocked up to work looking like Manchester’s answer to Kate Moss, but I felt pretty good. My morning routine was a gift to myself. It helped me feel relaxed, confident and ready to face the day. (more…)

Beetroot houmous

beetroot houmous cover

I started getting a Riverford veg box scheme recently, and it really is pushing my boundaries. Well, what I mean by that is that occasionally I get some vegetables and I’m not sure what to do with them. It’s not that boundary pushing really is it? Cooking with beetroot, I’ve done it before, but not often. But I mean, it’s not a parachute jump or anything. (more…)