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Recipes from Brixton Village book launch

_NTI8538I’ve been a bit quiet recently because Recipes from Brixton Village launched last Thursday May 22nd and everything has been full on in that time. The book has been incredibly well received and at the time of writing is No. 1 on Amazon in their Restaurant Cookbook category! Thank you to everyone who has bought it, tweeted about it, told their friends about it and supported me with it. I couldn’t have done it without you all and of course the traders of Brixton Village. They have been absolutely fantastic and their enthusiasm about the book is infectious. We had a fantastic launch party on May 22nd at Studio 73 in the Village and the book sold like hot cakes, going even faster than the codfish fritters from Fish Wings and Tings, black olive doughnuts from Casa Sibilla and daikon and chilli dip from Okan did! We did justice to a keg of Brixton Brewery American Pale Ale,  some gluten-free Celia lager courtesy of Vozars and some of Brian’s home-made ginger beer…and spilled out into 1st Avenue dwarfing the Honest Burger queue for once.

Many thanks to Adrian at Studio 73 for allowing us to take over his shop and for hosting our illustrator Kaylene Alder’s exhibition. If you missed it you can still buy prints from the book from her website. And massive thanks to all the traders who supplied food and drinks too. _NTI8533 I’m delighted to share some of the photos from the evening with you if you weren’t able to make it. Sadly we don’t have any photos of the launch event with Herne Hill Books on May 25th as I was too busy selling books, chatting to Jay Rayner and encouraging people to try the excellent cupcakes from Sponge and Cream we celebrated it all with. If you are in Brixton this weekend, you can find Kaylene and me at the Big Lunch in Brixton Village at the Coldharbour Lane entrance from 11am-4pm. Kaylene is setting up an art trail for the kids and I’m running a small quiz to see how well you’ve all read the book!There’s also the charity lunch to raise money for Brixton Soup Kitchen. I’ll be selling and signing books as well along with the Brixton Blog team. And then on Monday night, I’m fighting any nerves about public speaking to read at the Brixton Book Jam at the Hootenanny on Effra Road. I should be making my author’s debut about 8.30pm so come along for a beer and some book chat. I might be selling books but if previous events are anything to go by, we’ll have sold out on Sunday! I’ll hopefully be popping up in Grazia Daily this week and we’re plotting all kinds of exciting events over the summer, including a little something at Lambeth Country Show. It’s quite the whirlwind of events but it’s been fantastic meeting people and just talking Brixton non stop! Definitely my dream job.

Don’t forget you can still buy books with free UK P&P direct from the Kitchen Press website or for international shipping at Amazon. Don’t forget to leave a review there to tell us how much you enjoyed the book or the recipes you cooked! Signed copies can be ordered from the Brixton Blog shop too. And if you come down to Brixton Village this weekend, you can buy the book direct from the traders and chat to them about their input. It’s also in stock at 20 Storey in Market Row along with a selection of other Brixton authors’ books and the famous I ♥︎ Brixton mugs. We really do have everything you could ever want in Brixton! _NTI8725

YBF 2012 Award

A Young British Foodie…

YBF 2012 Award

I’m not sure which I’m more excited about: still being able to say I’m young (just shy of my 35th birthday) or being able to announce that I won the Young British Foodies Foodwriting Award 2013!

A joint winner along with Helen of Food Stories, it was a real honour to be nominated alongside her and Sam Muston of The Independent and all these fabulous people; plus I never say no to canapés and a few free drinks!

Meeting Yotam Ottolenghi was a highlight too, so I think this is a great time to announce that I’ll be joining him and other authors such as Mary Berry at Ebury Publishing. I haven’t crossed all the t’s and dotted all the i’s on the project yet, but I think you’re going to love it…

Before then however, I’m delighted to say I’m writing and editing the forthcoming Recipes from Brixton Village cookbook through KitchenPress. Publishing in Spring 2014, it will be featuring recipes from all your favourite restaurants and traders in Brixton Village. We’ve got exclusives from Fish Wings and Tings‘ codfish fritters, Kaosarn‘s green curry and Lab G‘s salted caramel ice cream amongst others. (I sense Jay Rayner will be after a copy the minute it’s hot off the press.)

Kitchen Press logo

I’m getting used to calling myself a writer these days since I’m signed with an agent and everything. The fantastic Caroline Hardman at Hardman and Swainson is representing me and handling my wide-eyed wonder at all this beautifully!*

I’ll be continuing to blog here and at the Brixton Blog and at risk of sounding a bit like I’m at the Oscars, I’d just like to thank everyone who has been reading at both sites. I love sharing my cooking and writing with you all. Your feedback and comments are fantastic and a real pleasure to read.

Mister North and I will definitely be keeping up our working relationship, and I’m hoping we might even have time to see each other at some point too! He’s also got all kinds of exciting design and photography projects going on around food, which hopefully you’ll get a chance to see at some point soon.

I don’t know about him, but I’m slightly overwhelmed by how far the blog has come in just under 4 years that I think I need a cuppa and a biscuit followed by a lie down so we can keep going!

*Caroline can be contacted at Hardman Swainson.

Radio Days

plate-&-stuff

Here at North/South Food we’ve been blogging since 2010, and more than anything else it’s been a fun way for us as brother and sister to share a common interest, background and communicate when we live hundreds of miles apart. It means we talk about more than just what we had for our tea when we chat on the phone.

But almost by accident, I certainly discovered another side to blogging. It taught me to be more creative about eating on a budget. This happened naturally. I have only ever had a small budget to cook and eat from due to my circumstances. So as we both developed and honed our skills in writing and social media and photography, I definitely expanded my budget horizons while we blogged.

I just never thought to mention it. While I love other frugal blogs and check them regularly, my own lack of money seemed irrelevant. Everyone has a budget after all: some people’s are just smaller. In fact although Mister North has a larger budget than me, he’s a careful shopper, knows his prices and the value of things and neither of us are are excessive financially when cooking. It didn’t seem that important to highlight this.

And to a certain extent it isn’t. Good food is good food. We cooked and blogged and people enjoyed it both in person and online. No one ever noticed the price of things. But when I realised I’d developed good skills for budget food and then heard people like me doing their best being criticised for it, I accidentally ‘outed’ myself by writing a piece of what challenges living on a budget can cause.

We couldn’t have foreseen the response. No one was sniffy or judgemental, and we realised there’s a massive appetite for frugal food that allows for some pleasures, and builds on skills and ideas. It’s been an honour to be asked to write for the Observer Food Monthly, to be interviewed for the Radio 4 Food Programme, and a privilege to meet and talk to others also eating well on a budget.

In many ways I can’t knock the tone of things like Delia’s Frugal Food (I bought my mum a copy for Mother’s Day when I was about 8, not knowing what frugal meant…) but I don’t love the tone of parsimony that accompanies them. Having a small budget is not a failing, and it shouldn’t be a punishment.

My budget is £15-20 per week, including store cupboard essentials. I’ve got a wee bit of wiggle room – because food is my hobby – and sometimes I buy stuff for fun so I might spend £25 one week and £15 the next. I’ve learned to adapt to seasonality and to plan without being so rigid I can’t trust my instincts. This flexibility is how I not only cope, but genuinely enjoy budgeting week in, week out, for the last 13 years.

I’ll happily eat boiled rice and veggies a couple of nights a week so I can bake something occasionally. But then I’m only catering to myself and that’s a luxury in itself. Mister North cooks for two and that enhances my skills by teaching me to cook big sometimes. This isn’t a blog necessarily aimed at feeding a family, but I think we’ve proved useful for helping singles and couples how to enjoy food in a world often aimed at families of four.

It isn’t solely about budget for us. You’ll see a few items in here that don’t scream counting the pennies; except when you look more closely, they might be from a market, farm shop, friend or other place that offers a different type of value to the ‘Big 4’ supermarkets. Mister North has a bit more money, but less time than me, and he lives in a more rural environment so has access to different sources than I do. However we both feel it’s important that the north/south aspect of our blog covers all the places you can shop because budgeting is not one size fits all. It’s finding what works for your circumstances.

My circumstances are that food is more than just fuel. It is often my friend and companion as well. My health is poor and especially at times of relapse or flare up, days blur and food punctuates that. Making something to eat can be my big achievement for the day or the week and my only pleasure. It can help or hinder me depending what I eat and I try to keep my recipes relevant to that, but not be the dominant factor in either my life or my cooking.

When you dip into the blog, you’ll find recipes that make you hungry, tips to try, skills to be built on and a connection to food that entertains you. There are no prices per portion, no talk of cost per se; more just a selection of love letters to food and all the aspects that make up eating, drinking, cooking and shopping… along with lovely helpful comments from our readers. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

A small announcement…

Miss South's piece in the Observer Food Monthly, 20th Jan 2013

We’ve got some exciting news for you. Just as our blog enters its fourth year, an article and series of recipes I’ve written is published in this month’s Observer Food Monthly!

Based on my piece about food poverty and eating on a budget not being just as simple as it might seem, I’ve written another piece and a week’s worth of recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and a treat or two for them. They’ve very kindly published the whole lot, both online and in the magazine itself.

I’ve budgeted that everything feeds 2 for £20 a week each, priced at Sainsbury’s online. There’s a minimum of energy costs, kitchen equipment and herbs, spices and condiments; but the opportunity to add in the things that you absolutely can’t do without to flavour your food. I’ve intended it as a guide–not gospel–and tried to make frugal food seem fun.

I’m so pleased to have been given the opportunity to do this and at risk of sounding a bit like I’m giving an Oscar speech, I’d like to thank everyone for the overwhelming support and encouragement they gave me over the first piece. Many of you took the time to tweet and email me personally as well as leaving personal, thoughtful, honest comments that created a real discussion on the subject. Some of you even went out of your way to suggest a piece by me to the Guardian/Observer and I hope I’ve thanked you personally.

Both Mister North and I would like to thank you all for the fun, support and encouragement we’ve had in our blogging career. It’s been brilliant so far. I’m certainly a much better and resourceful cook than I was and it’s introduced me to wonderful people and opportunities. Here’s to many more years!

Miss South's article online for Observer Food Monthly, 20th Jan 2013