I’ve always been lucky with gifts in the physical sense of receiving a present – I’m surrounded by thoughtful and creative family members, so gifts have always been good. Laura especially is brilliant with gifts, as my burgeoning comic book collection will testify to, as well as The Wire boxset and Dead Space 2 and a lava lamp etc. etc.

The greatest gift I received in a materialistic sense was from my little sister, about four or five Christmases ago. It was a set of 3 books. They are not antique, rare or monetarily valuable (all 3 can be bought for 3p pre postage off Amazon in fact). To me however, they were invaluable as they gave me confidence in a particular basic aspect of my life – a confidence that has grown, I believe into a skill. It helped (and still helps) with my relationship with Laura and gives me a function within the household (alongside chief computer game player and head of getting in the way).

The book set is the ‘cooking for blokes’ set by Andersen & Walls (encompassing Cooking for Blokes, Foreign Cooking for Blokes & Flash Cooking for Blokes). Outwardly they look terrible – seemingly written for the WKD generation and the mentality that brings. However, the book is well written, recipe’s are clear and concise and there are never any surprises or secrets. Within these books, whilst not covering every recipes or every skill, it gives you the foundation and the fundamentals to like me, build your confidence and skills up. It’s good as a reminder, or if you’ve never done a basic recipe before for  example I had never cooked an omelette before 2011, got the basics from this, now I produce them with all sorts added. I also found a brilliant slow cooked duck recipe in there.

I cooked and ate bad food. It was a process. I now enjoy cooking, I believe I have a skill. I can take basic ingredients, and make a palatable meal no matter. The occasionally chippy tea treat aside, I have not eaten fast food in at least three years, and did full Christmas tea this year down to the minute. Although I am not boundf to these books for the things I cook, I am forever greatful for this ability they gave me.

 I would recommend these books, all three as a set to anyone (not just ‘Blokes’) who lacks confidence in the kitchen or has never really had to cook for themselves.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cooking-Blokes-Duncan-Anderson/dp/0751515639

The actual greatest gift I ever received was Laura in my life. I am totally punching above my weight. But I think everyone knows that

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