The origins of my new book, Home Cookery Year, lie in a series of notebooks I have kept over the years. Disaster struck when my car was broken into and my handbag, complete with current notebook and wallet, was stolen. It was breaking news locally, with newspaper articles and a radio appearance trying to unearth any information on the whereabouts of my bag. It never materialised and was no doubt launched into a hedge.
Those recipes are in the book; I was able to test and write them again, but sadly the drawings in that notebook are lost (the kids have always doodled in my notebooks, each one a timeline of my work and their eyes on the world).
Riffling through all my notebooks, from when I started out as a chef in restaurants to now, as a 40-year-old mum of three, there is a rhythm in them, a beat to how I like to cook. I am a professional chef and have worked in many different kitchens, under intense pressure – it is a wonderfully enriching and sometimes stressful job. I will always be glad that I followed this career path from the age of 21. The field of food is an important and ever-changing landscape; one that has a profound impact on everyone, regardless of occupation.
In more recent years, becoming a parent meant wanting to work less in restaurant kitchens, and trying to recalibrate as someone with a role in food, but one where I could put my children to bed in the evening. Throughout lockdown, the kids and I have had a great deal of fun doing cookery videos for social media. It’s second nature to have them cook alongside me, and I want them to know their way around the spice rack, how to make a good frugal lunch on the hop, and how to make the very best ice cream – because isn’t that what every child wants?
While we might not have completed quite as much home learning in the maths department, what they have achieved in the kitchen has been unrivalled. They can catch up on their algebra in September; I’m no schoolteacher, after all.
While you don’t get the kids’ drawings with the book (and these recipes from it), you do get a personal account of what I like to cook, and how I like to cook it. A bit like a chef, a bit like a parent, a bit like me, I suppose.
Home Cookery Year: Four Seasons, Over 200 Recipes for All Possible Occasions, by Claire Thomson (Quadrille, £30), is out on September 3. Order a copy now for £25 at books.telegraph.co.uk