Category Archives: Cooking

Learning a new skill at home

Full disclosure, we’ve had about eight goes at writing this introduction. We are living in a crazy time at the moment with many people unwell, everyone in isolation and unable to see extended families or friends. We try as much as we can to look on the bright side and have been heartened to see that our local community is full of kindness where people are helping each other as much as they can. We’re aiming to offer a silver lining too with daily dinner inspiration (there are so many cookbooks on the market that are seriously turning this ‘non cook’ into a wannabe chef! – be sure to follow along on Facebook and Instagram and share your dinner ideas too). 

This week we are all about helping you fill the spare time you have on your hands while we all sit this virus out at home. There are so many things you can learn to do.
We’ve had a little dig around and have found six great new books that will help you broaden your skill sets. What is it you would like to learn?

From Clay to Kiln by Stuart Carey

This one is for these of you that have always wanted to have a go at pottery but perhaps haven’t worked with clay since kindergarten. From Clay to Kiln is a must-have guide for anyone working with ceramics, from absolute beginners, weekend crafters and students, through to practising ceramicists. In this book, Stuart Carey invigorates and encourages you through all stages of the pottery process. Covering all the information you need about tools and materials, he takes you through preparation and hand building, throwing and finishing your vessel, to glazing and firing. You will gain an in-depth knowledge of how clay works and how to apply your skills to the wheel and beyond. With simple step-by-step tutorials, clear visuals and Stuart’s helpful hints and tips, you can jump straight in with confidence and create a piece of pottery that marries beauty, form and function. Including stunningly beautiful photography throughout, this is a book to inspire.

Mend and Patch by Kerstin Neumuller

These are skills that are sadly lacking in our generation but with the times we are in, perhaps will make a resurgence as we all take the pace of life down a little. 

Throwing away holey, yet beloved, clothes can sometimes be one of the saddest things, but what if you were able to fix those holes and extend their life? With Mend and Patch, you can learn to take care of your clothes, mending, patching and repairing so you can cherish all your garments. In the furthest corner of Kerstin and Douglas’s store, Second Sunrise in Stockholm, Kerstin has set up a mending studio and so when it’s quiet in the shop she can sit there by the sewing machine and give a new lease of life to people’s favourite jeans. Some prefer discreet and invisible mendings, others want them to be highly visible and so, with time, mending becomes a part of the history of the clothes and the people who wear them. Mend and Patch arms you with the skills and ideas you need to mend your own clothes, truly making and keeping them your own, whatever the wear and tear. Find out emergency tips for mending in a hurry, enhance your clothes with decorative ‘mends’ and learn to mend for and with different materials, including leather, cotton, wool, silk and of course, denim.

Clean Code by Robert C Martin

Okay, this is something many of us put off. Coding. Sounds tricky. Isn’t really. Well…that’s what we are hoping. Many of our community run their own businesses and websites are (and even more so) going to become an increasingly important component of those. Knowing a little coding will surely be of benefit. Also, this isn’t the newest book (it was published in 2008) but it is an extremely pragmatic method for writing better code from the start, and ultimately producing more robust applications.

Even bad code can function. But if code isn’t clean, it can bring a development organisation to its knees. Every year, countless hours and significant resources are lost because of poorly written code. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Noted software expert Robert C. Martin presents a revolutionary paradigm with Clean Code. Martin has teamed up with his colleagues from Object Mentor to distill their best agile practice of cleaning code “on the fly” into a book that will instil within you the values of a software craftsman and make you a better programmer – but only if you work at it.

Eloquent Ruby by Russ Olsen

Yep, another coding book. It’s an important skill so we thought we’d give you another option. Ruby is the language powering sites including Booko, AirBNB, Shopify and Zendesk. The developer community around Ruby is famously welcoming and inclusive with the community motto derived from demeanor of the language’s chief designer Matz: “Matz is nice and so we are nice”. The language has a focus on developer happiness making it a great place to begin your journey into writing software.

It’s easy to write correct Ruby code, but to gain the fluency needed to write great Ruby code, you must go beyond syntax and absorb the “Ruby way” of thinking and problem solving. In Eloquent Ruby, Russ Olsen helps you write Ruby like true Rubyists do-so you can leverage its immense, surprising power. Olsen draws on years of experience internalizing the Ruby culture and teaching Ruby to other programmers. He guides you to the “Ah Ha!” moments when it suddenly becomes clear why Ruby works the way it does, and how you can take advantage of this language’s elegance and expressiveness. Eloquent Ruby starts small, answering tactical questions focused on a single statement, method, test, or bug. You’ll learn how to write code that actually looks like Ruby (not Java or C#); why Ruby has so many control structures; how to use strings, expressions, and symbols; and what dynamic typing is really good for. Next, the book addresses bigger questions related to building methods and classes. You’ll discover why Ruby classes contain so many tiny methods, when to use operator overloading, and when to avoid it. Olsen explains how to write Ruby code that writes its own code-and why you’ll want to.He concludes with powerful project-level features and techniques ranging from gems to Domain Specific Languages. A part of the renowned Addison-Wesley Professional Ruby Series, Eloquent Ruby will help you “put on your Ruby-colored glasses” and get results that make you a true believer.

Home is Where You Make It: DIY ideas and styling secrets to create a home you love – whether you rent or own by Geneva Vanderzeil

They say home is where the heart is and this little book will help you learn a few skills to make sure that home reflects the personality of the people who live with you. Beautiful and practical DIY projects, styling hacks and design tips for both owners and renters from the founder of one of the world’s most popular lifestyle websites. Add style and individuality to your home with DIY, even when you’re renting. Home Is Where You Make It channels the simplicity and beauty of modern living. This is your room-by-room guide to making and DIY-ing your own place, with hundreds of clever styling hacks, repurposing and up-styling ideas, and easy weekend projects to create the home of your dreams.

Mad About The House: 101 Interior Design Answers by Kate Watson-Smyth

This is Kate’s second book and it is a gold mine of insights and tips from this fabulous writer.

This is a companion to the best-selling book by the founder of the UK’s number 1 interiors blog, this easy-to-use dictionary of interior design answers all those questions you wanted to solve but were afraid to ask. The book begins with the most important questions of all: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? And When? The aim is to answer these before you start any decorating scheme and you will avoid the most common mistakes, save money and, most importantly, create a home that works for you and the people who live there. It is the super-practical guide that allows you to dip in and out so you can solve all your decorating dilemmas.The chapters focus on Walls, Floors, Ceilings, Windows, Doors, Skirtings, Furniture Layout, Lighting, before finally a round-up of Fixtures and Fittings. In addition to the no-nonsense practical answers, there are checklists and step-by-step guides to key decorating challenges – everything from How to Hang Wallpaper, to Arranging a Gallery Wall, and Removing Stains from Carpets and Soft Furnishings. You’ll love Kate’s writing style and if you want to hear more from her you can also check out her podcast with Sophie Robinson here.

Stay Safe and Enjoy!

Dinner Inspo: South

Struggling to come up with dinner ideas? Us too. That’s why we’re sharing a new cookbook each day in April. Today’s dinner inspo book is South. Fried green tomatoes anyone?

What are you cooking tonight?


Booko’s Valentine’s special: If you love it, learn to repair it.

Love is certainly in the air this week with it being Valentine’s Day tomorrow. But the day of love doesn’t just have to be about showing your love for people, you are allowed to love your favourite things in your home too.

This week we want to show you that you can love your home and the treasures you have inside in it for years and years, and we have found the books that help you to do just that. Sometimes our belongings can become a little worn, or our love of them fades as they no longer look how we would like them to. Fear not, there is good news, you can change things with a little elbow grease. The books we have found help you to explore your inner eco warrior and DIY skills showing you how to recycle, reuse and repurpose the treasures we already have in our homes along with some fabulous titles that will help you love the planet too.

Sustainable Home by Christine Liu

The Sustainable Home is an inspirational and practical guidebook to maintaining a more environmentally friendly household. Sustainability enthusiast and zero-waste advocate Christine Liu takes you on a tour through the rooms of your home inside the living area, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom all the while offering tips, tricks and 17 step-by-step projects designed to help you lead a more low-impact lifestyle. Whether its by making your own toothpowder, growing your own herb garden or up-cycling old pieces of furniture, there are numerous ways, both big and small, to make a difference.

Live Green by Jen Chillingsworth

Many of us are already doing what we can to adopt a greener lifestyle. We recycle, try to reduce our waste and plastics, choose organic food when shopping, eat less meat and opt for environmentally friendly cleaning products. Yet we often wish we were doing more and it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Live Green is a practical guide of 52 changes, one for each week of the year, you can make to your home and lifestyle to reduce your impact on the environment. Tackling all areas of your life from your cleaning routine, home furnishings, food shopping, fashion choices, natural beauty and Christmas, this book has all the ingredients to help you achieve a more sustainable year. From making your own eco-friendly cleaning products, buying vintage furniture, making your own moth repellent and improving your natural beauty regime to creating a capsule wardrobe and creating your own ethical Christmas decorations. Discover how to get the most out of life by living with intention. Live simply. Live Green.

The Nordic Home by John Arne Bjerknes

John Bjerknes is a partner and design director at Nordic – Office of Architecture and his writing conveys his vast experience within design, development, and planning of small and large-scale construction projects. Given its unique focus on organically integrating people with nature using sustainable techniques, Scandinavian design currently occupies an important position in the architectural and interior design worlds. Nordic Home captures this exciting trend by showcasing 45 case studies exemplifying the best of Nordic architecture and interiors. It is a seriously beautiful book with inspiring interiors. 

The Art of the Natural Home by Rebecca Sullivan 

This book is perfect for those interested in sustainability, natural products and mindfulness. It’s all about taking the time to create your own homemade products, from face masks to floor polish and from medicinal honey to massage oil. Taking inspiration from her grandmother’s generation, Rebecca Sullivan has put together this thoughtful and appealing manual to caring for yourself and your home. Traditional methods are resurrected or updated to suit the modern home, using simple, natural ingredients. The first part of the book is dedicated to the Home, and covers cleaning products for every room, ideas for pickles and preserves, and tips on everything from natural laundry treatments to how to grow your own cocktail garden. The second part covers Health and Beauty, and includes bath salts, make up, serums, perfumes and even beard oil, as well as healing remedies such as burn salves and herbal teas. This inspiring guide is a must for anyone interested in living a simpler, more purposeful life.

A Family Guide to Waste Free Living by Lauren Carter

Tackle our ever-growing waste problem with all the information, advice, budget-friendly recipes and projects you’ll need to start reducing waste in your life. A Family Guide to Waste-free Living makes it simple and sustainable for families to eliminate waste in the home, at work and out in the world. This is a practical and inspiring resource for anyone wanting to live more sustainably. When it comes to waste-free living, Lauren and Oberon Carter really know their stuff. In 2015, they decided to get serious about minimising their ecological footprint, successfully reducing their energy consumption by more than 60 per cent and transitioning to living completely waste and recycling free. They have written this fantastic guide to help and encourage other families do the same. A Family Guide to Waste-free Living provides a roadmap for anyone wanting to reduce their waste. It is packed with information and offers practical and achievable solutions for eliminating waste in the home, at work and in the world. Inside you’ll find simple activities for the whole family instructions on building waste-free kits for around the house and out and about. You’ll also find a plan for creating change by advocating to government and business. Tackle our ever-growing waste problem with all the information, advice, budget-friendly recipes and projects you’ll need to start reducing waste in your life.

Waste Not by Erin Rhoads

‘We need to talk about waste. Shrink-wrapped veggies, disposable coffee cups, clothes and electronics designed to be upgraded every year: we are surrounded by stuff that we often use once and then throw away. Each year Australian households produce enough rubbish to fill a three-bedroom home, including thousands of dollars worth of food and an ever-increasing amount of plastic, which takes hundreds of years to break down and often ends up in our oceans or our food chain. But what to do about such a huge problem? Is it just the price we pay for the conveniences of modern life? What if it were possible to have it both ways – to live a modern life with less waste? That’s where Erin Rhoads, aka The Rogue Ginger, comes in. Erin went from eating plastic-packaged takeaway while shopping online for fast fashion, to becoming one of Australia’s most popular eco-bloggers. Erin knows that small changes can have a big impact. In Waste Not she shares everything she’s learnt from her own funny, inspiring – and far-from-perfect – journey to living with less waste.

Enjoy!

A forgotten space-aged technology could change how we grow food.

We’re heading for a world population of 10 billion people but what will we all eat? Lisa Dyson has rediscovered an idea developed by NASA in the 1960s for deep-space travel, and it could be a key to reinventing how we grow food.

Summer Food Ideas

Are you trying to eat better / healthier / lighter?  Diet-related goals are popular New Year’s Resolutions, and we in Australia are lucky to have an abundance of summer produce to help us kickstart these goals.  If you’re after ideas for flavourful meals with minimal prep, that are satisfying without feeling heavy, then look no further – we’ve got just the right recipes for you!

Salad Feasts: How to Assemble the Perfect Meal by Jessica Elliott Dennison

Big, filling salads are my current summer favourites – they are easy to scale up to feed a crowd, and perfect for those too-hot-to-cook days.  Salad Feasts is a treasure-trove of ideas on how to layer flavours and textures, so that you achieve a balance of freshness, heartiness and nutrients.  Jessica Elliott Dennison also provides lots of suggestions on how to substitute and customise your salads.  Serve these beautiful salads as complete, plant-based meals in themselves, or as vibrant accompaniments to meat.

Well+Good Cookbook: 100 Healthy Recipes + Expert Advice for Better Living by Alexia Brue

The team at Well+Good represent some of the most trusted, influential and trend-setting experts in wellness.  In its first cookbook. Well+Good is showcasing how diverse healthy eating can be, just as “wellness” can mean different things to different people – nutrition, fitness, beauty, spirituality and more.  There are dishes that suit a range of eating styles including vegan, Paleo, Keto, low FODMAP and gluten-free.  With recipe contributions by celebrity wellness devotees including Venus Williams, Marie Kondo, Bobbi Brown and others, the Well+Good cookbook shows that, no matter how busy you are, there are healthy eating options that are achievable and can make you feel great.

Nothing Fancy: the Art of Having People Over by Alison Roman

Alison Roman prefers to talk about “having people over” rather than “ entertaining” – the idea of “entertaining” is more performative and about impressing people, which creates unnecessary expectations and stress for the host.  Instead, she reminds us to be kind to ourselves, and champions unfussy food with big flavours – low stress, high-impact dishes that are great even if they’re not perfectly made.   With recipes that have gone viral and been tried successfully by thousands of fans, Nothing Fancy is a delicious manifesto about cooking for people you love.

The Little Swedish Kitchen by Rachel Khoo

A few years ago, Rachel Khoo relocated her little kitchen from France to Sweden after marrying and starting a family. The Little Swedish Kitchen is a celebration of her new home, reflecting her understanding of Swedish cuisine.  The cool climate and short growing season means Swedish cooking focusses on a small range of core ingredients, livened up with seasonal treats.  Think potato salads tossed with foraged greens, wild mushrooms in a cheese tart, and cakes made with colourful summer fruit.

Planted: a Chef’s Show-stopping Vegan Recipes by Chantelle Nicholson

Plant-based eating (as well as veganism) is a huge trend right now, appealing to people who want to develop more sustainable, ethical and healthy eating habits.  In Planted, Chantelle Nicholson brings a chef’s finesse to vegan recipes – something you don’t usually find in this category.  This New Zealand-born, London-based chef has created seasonal, flavourful recipes that are refined enough for special occasions, yet perfectly achievable for weeknight dinners.  Planted will open your mind to the possibilities of plant-based eating.

Healthier Together: Recipes for Two – Nourish your Body, Nourish your Relationships by Liz Moody

Have you ever given up on health goals because you struggled with motivation?  Try finding a partner – setting and sticking to goals can be much easier when paired with someone else. Healthier Together builds on this idea by offering you delicious, healthful recipes for two.  The act of cooking and eating together will help you strengthen your relationship, as well as get healthy together! These 100+ recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free and plant-centered, including sweet treats and healthier versions of takeaway dishes such as fried chicken, banana bread and brownies.