Local books: From Crete to the kitchen

Another Step Into My Kitchen, by Evelyn Curtis, £12.95. ISBN 978-095398063-4WITH its cover picture showing rather delicious cakes and scones, this is not the tome you want to land on your desk when there's still an hour to go until lunch!This is Evelyn's fourth cookery book, following the likes of Lavenham Church Cookbook and My Kind of People, My Kind of Cooking.

Another Step Into My Kitchen, by Evelyn Curtis, £12.95. ISBN 978-095398063-4

WITH its cover picture showing rather delicious cakes and scones, this is not the tome you want to land on your desk when there's still an hour to go until lunch!

This is Evelyn's fourth cookery book, following the likes of Lavenham Church Cookbook and My Kind of People, My Kind of Cooking.

The emphasis is on dishes that are practical, healthy, wholesome and easy to prepare. They also use local produce.


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“Today we have so many choices of fruit and vegetables available to us that we do not have to wait for the seasons to produce strawberries in June and asparagus in May, as both can be flown to us from other countries,” she says.

“But as we all know . . . there is nothing to beat our own home-grown vegetables and fruit, which reminds us just how much is still grown on our small island. So why eat new potatoes and strawberries all year round when you can wait for the best of the local crop, food that is produced by local farmers, picked fresh from the fields the morning you buy it, and hasn't had to be chemically treated or preserved to survive journeys of thousands of miles to get to us.”

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There are more than 120 pages of recipes, ranging from starters (cracked wheat and tomato salad, anyone?), through fish (trout with horseradish and garlic, for instance), poultry and game (roast pheasant cooked in cider) and vegetarian choices (a dozen of those) to cakes and pastries, jellies, jams and relishes.

For those unsure about what is grown and when, there are some handy charts at the back of the book detailing when fruits and vegetables are in season.

I Should Be So Lucky! By Roy Cook; £10.99 including post and packing by sending a cheque made out to Grooveside Publishing, 12 Groveside, Great Bookham, KT23 4LD. ISBN 0-9553153-0-1

THIS story of Roy Cook, whose father's family came from Ipswich, has a poignant edge: he's donating the profits to the local Alzheimer's societies that were so supportive when wife Jean suffered with the disease from 1996 until 2003.

His grandfather was an LNER train guard. “During holidays with him, we would often go walking in Gippeswyk Park, which was a stone's throw from his house overlooking Ipswich Station in Ranelagh Road.”

Meanwhile, Uncle Ernie, the only member of the family to possess a car during Roy's youth, would take the family on trips to Shingle Street. Uncle Jim worked at Ransome's, famous for its lawn-mowers.

In 1939, having turned 13, he went on holiday to the Fairfield Road home in Ipswich of Aunt Edie and Uncle Cecil “and we had a marvellous time.

“We had the permanent use of a beach hut on the front at Felixstowe and used to cycle there frequently. As I recall, I had a Hercules bicycle which cost the princely sum of £3 and nearly everyone in Ipswich had a bike of some sort . . . most of the industry in those days was situated near the centre of town and to get there you had to cycle down Bishop's Hill, which was very steep and extremely long.

“It was only possible to walk up on the way back from the factories and offices, and I cannot recall anywhere that I have seen more bikes at one time.”

Roy was still on holiday in Suffolk when war broke out and he stayed with his aunt in Ipswich for three years, rather than returning home to London. He went to Northgate School for Boys and formed a dance band with pals John Denny and Ken Driver.

On his return to London he became involved with the jazz world - and for three months before being called up played with the 16-year-old Ronnie Scott at the Orchard Club in Wigmore Street.

Taffy's War: The Story of Prisoner No 259175, The Erskine Press, £8.95 (www.erskine-press.com). ISBN 978-185297-094-9

IN the summer of 1941 Herbert Noel “Taffy” Greenwood set sail to join the British forces at war, fighting from Sidi Omar to Tobruk until he was captured almost a year later. He then spent almost three years in prison camps from the heel of Italy up to Cologne, and wasn't free until May 8, 1945.

Taffy began a diary when he was captured - one that detailed the day-to-day life of a PoW, the efforts to keep fit, the struggle to get enough to eat, and the battle simply to stay alive.

Born in Wales, Taffy had moved to Ipswich with his family in 1937. Now aged 88, he still lives in the town.

He never thought his diary was anything to speak of - and, indeed, his wife Hilda never even knew it existed! - and it was only when his second wife, Irene, came across it that she thought it deserved a wider readership.

It's the story of one man doing his duty: quiet heroics, rather than great heroics. The unassuming heroism displayed by so many servicemen deprived of their liberty.

The Creature of Crete, by John Harris, notreallybooks (www.notreallybooks.biz), £5.99. ISBN 09552129-1-X. Published on March 1

FOLLOWING Charlie's Key last year comes this collection of three stories from Ancient Greece, retold by Chelmsford-based John Harris: said to be the only full-time professional storyteller in the country who works exclusively with children and young people.

They are tales of cowardice, courage, cruelty and cleverness: The Monster King (“A word or two about Minos”), The First Boy to Fly (“The story of Daedalus and Icarus”), and The Hero Who Was Also A Coward (“The story of Theseus, Ariadne, and a little unpleasantness”).

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