An evening with Mary Berry at Birmingham Town Hall

Mary Berry is the grand dame of British cookery. The star of the Great British Bake Off, and a face in British television cookery since the 1970s, she is a real icon, has loved for her fashion sense as she is for her slightly naughty personality (soggy bottoms anyone!). Last Thursday a packed Birmingham Town Hall sat enthralled as Mary talked all things cooking and family in her own inimitable way. Here are some of the highlights of a fascinating evening with the woman rightly described as ‘one of the most important voices in food in this century and the last century.’

On the National Television Awards

I didn’t think I was going to win, I went to see all the cast of ‘Call the Midwife’. I didn’t think I would win best judge, Len Goodman was retiring and there was Simon Cowell who was bound to win, so I didn’t do a speech. I hadn’t even worked out how to get on the stage. But I was very honoured because it’s the viewers who vote, not a team.

School Days

At school I went to the back of the class so I wouldn’t be asked any questions. My best subject was domestic science or break.

Ski Days

I went to be a chalet girl in Gstaad.  We invited guests over from the UK and charged them £22 a fortnight, and we did all the cooking and skied all day.

Pigs!

I used to smuggle piglets into my bed. My dad loved animals far more than us children. I always loved the runt of the letter. I used to nip in and fetch them, wrap them in a towel and take them to bed. There was nothing nicer to take to bed.

1960s

I worked for the Ideal Home Magazine. There were only two pages of colour in magazines in those days, and the recipes were very classic. I was one of the first people to go to celebrities to get their recipes. Mary Quant was one of the first, she did a sausage risotto. She got a local restaurant to make her recipe, but she dressed the room so beautifully – she was a designer not a cook. But the recipe was delicious.

Early Television

I wrote a book on freezing for M&S at the time when people were just starting to freeze things at home. It was picked up by producers looking for a cooking segment for a Judith Chalmers  programme. I was asked if I would be interested in television and I jumped at it. They created me a kitchen in the studio from scratch – non of the cupboards opened and the sink was actually from a hose and a bucket – but it was really good fun.

Bake Off

‘There’s going to be a new TV series about cakes and baking – would you like to be considered as a judge?’ Liked to, I’d love to. I got the job but then they said you’ll also be doing bread. Now, I wasn’t very good at bread so they brought in four bread experts and asked who I would like to work with. I chose Paul Hollywood and we has seven fabulous years together, such terrific fun. I love that the format got Britain baking, particularly children. I always had a hot water bottle under my coat on Bake Off. A hot water bottle is such an old fashioned thing isn’t it.

Bake off Mantra

My Mantra is to get people to enjoy baking, to always find something good about the creation. So even if it sinks or falls apart you need to say something nice, like that it has good flavours.

Pizza!

I’ve never had a pizza delivered, and this is thought to be rather odd, but I’ve just never got around to it.

Herbs

I love growing herbs, everybody can do it whether you have a big garden and a window box. When I started cooking it was all dried herbs, now you can get so many fresh and they add so much flavour to cooking.

Finally…

I like to do a recipe, do a few things with it and suggest a few different ingredients you could use, and then suggest what to do with the leftovers.

Selfie with my Sister in Law

 

 

 

Great British Bake Off Inspiration for Christmas

It is officially the biggest programme of 2015, with 12.29 million viewers tuning into the final to see Nadiya Hussein crowned the well deserved winner. I can only be talking about the Great British Bake Off, the programme that makes stars out of star bakers, has made Mary Berry a fashion inspiration, and has made Paul Hollywood into a sex symbol (something I totally don’t get…but he does have Paul Newman eyes….if you squint!).  A fabulous infographic by Bingo Find gives some of the facts and figures about the series that should be loved by aged grannies and spinster aunts, but is, in fact, loved by everyone, not least my six year old Joe.

www.bingofind.com

This Christmas, there are so many gifts that have been inspired by the TV phenomenon that is ‘Bake Off’.  Amazon has some fabulous aprons with the legend ‘This Weeks star baker’ on them, these can then be personalised.  The Great British Bake Off Christmas book is a collection of the best Christmas recipes from Paul Hollywood’s and Mary Berry. It also includes new bakes from four previous winners, Edd Kimber, Jo Wheatley, John Whaite and Frances Quinn. This would be a great gift for a Bake Off fan, or could just help with preparation for your special Christmas.

This Weeks Star Baker- Personalised with Your Name- children's / kids apron from Ice-Tees £9.95 Click to visit Amazon

This Weeks Star Baker- Personalised with Your Name- children’s / kids apron from Ice-Tees £9.95 Click to visit Amazon

Great British Bake Off: Christmas £6.79 click to visit Amazon

Great British Bake Off: Christmas £6.79 click to visit Amazon

For fans of the 2015 series, the latest spin off book, which features recipes from the 2015, could also be a lovely present idea.

Great British Bake Off: Celebrations: With recipes from the 2015 series £6.79 click to visit Amazon

Great British Bake Off: Celebrations: With recipes from the 2015 series £6.79 click to visit Amazon

And a ‘star baker’ badge would be great for whoever is in charge of the Christmas cake this year…even if it was you, and you just picked it up from Sainsbury’s. Christmas is all above make believe magic after all!

Star Baker. Bake Off Silver Tone Sheriff Badge. Cup Cake Backing Card £5.99 click to visit Amazon

Star Baker. Bake Off Silver Tone Sheriff Badge. Cup Cake Backing Card £5.99 click to visit Amazon

And then there is this, which is just hilarious, and is bound to raise a smile on Christmas morning.

Novelty MUG ≈ I LOVE (heart) PAUL HOLLYWOOD - HE CAN KNEAD MY BAPS ANYTIME £

Novelty MUG ≈ I LOVE (heart) PAUL HOLLYWOOD – HE CAN KNEAD MY BAPS ANYTIME £7.99 click to visit Amazon

Are you a fan of ‘Bake off’?

My pick of the Handpicked Collection

For us ladies, and especially the mommies amongst us, the next couple of months are pretty good when it comes to receiving gifts. We have Valentine’s Day next week, and the Mother’s Day to look forward to in mid March. But it is safe to say that, sometimes, when it comes to the actual present, our menfolk need a bit of a point in the right direction when it comes to choosing something that’s a little more original than flowers and chocolates.

Handpicked Collection is totally a point in the right direction. Described as an online emporium providing the ‘best of the best’, the Handpicked Collection is, as you may well have guessed from its name, a place to select gifts that have already been hand picked by a special panel to appeal to a wide range of people. There is an emphasis on quality, with gifts coming from a range of sources, and including gifts of Cashmere, coffee table fashion books, leather items including tablet cases and purses and cute kitchen items from the Mary Berry range. Prices are varied to suit all budgets, including pocket money budgets (perfect for Mother’s Day) and the range can only be described as pretty irresistible – who wouldn’t want a ‘ring for service’ bell?

You can currently get free delivery on orders over £75, and if you order before 3pm you can get your item next day, so you still have plenty of time to get something special chosen for your Valentine.

Here are my favourite picks from Handpicked Collection.

 Scent Bottle Wash Bag £21.95 £15.37 click to visit Handpicked Collection

Scent Bottle Wash Bag
now
£15.37
click to visit Handpicked Collection

 Happiness Mug now £6.27 click to visit Handpicked Collection

Happiness Mug now
£6.27 click to visit Handpicked Collection

Mary Berry Collection Ring for Service Bell $2.97 click to visit Handpicked Collection

Mary Berry Collection Ring for Service Bell £2.97 click to visit Handpicked Collection

Everyday Lambswool Socks - Flamingo £14 click to visit Handpicked Collection

Everyday Lambswool Socks – Flamingo £14 click to visit Handpicked Collection

Recycled Leather Longline Wallet- Orange £24.47 click to visit Handpicked Collection

Recycled Leather Longline Wallet- Orange £24.47 click to visit Handpicked Collection

 Kissing Animals Large Wash Bags - Fox £10.50 click to visit Handpicked Collection

Kissing Animals Large Wash Bags – Fox £10.50 click to visit Handpicked Collection

Joco Cup Reusable Glass Coffee Cup - Pink £19.95 click to visit Handpicked Collection

Joco Cup Reusable Glass Coffee Cup – Pink £19.95 click to visit Handpicked Collection

Metallic Lizard Mini iPad Envelope - Silver £17.50 click to visit Handpicked Collection

Metallic Lizard Mini iPad Envelope – Silver £17.50 click to visit Handpicked Collection

Cashmere Long Gloves - Grey £24.50 click to visit Handpicked Collection

Cashmere Long Gloves – Grey £24.50 click to visit Handpicked Collection

Hummingbird Necklace £20.97 click to visit Handpicked Collection

Hummingbird Necklace £20.97 click to visit Handpicked Collection

 School Milk Bottle Crate £9.95 click to visit Handpicked Collection

School Milk Bottle Crate
£9.95
click to visit Handpicked Collection

Vogue: The Covers £24.50 click to visit Handpicked Collection

Vogue: The Covers £24.50 click to visit Handpicked Collection

Can’t Sleep Write Now Notebook £10.95 click to visit Handpicked Collection

Can’t Sleep Write Now Notebook £10.95 click to visit Handpicked Collection

 Azuni Aqua Drop Earrings £24.95 click to visit Handpicked Collection

Azuni Aqua Drop Earrings – as worn by Kate Middleton
£24.95
click to visit Handpicked Collection