Saturday, 2 August 2008

Top Cooking

Top Talk

Author and broadcaster Gilli Davies admits she was lucky to be ‘in’ at the beginning of TV cookery programmes and was therefore, able to promote the benefits of local food production. “I stumbled into it,” she told me. “I had trained as a secretary and worked in fashion and at the time I was a nanny for a couple who owned a pub. One night they were short staffed so I put the baby to bed and went to the kitchen. It was just wonderful, I immediately knew wanted to cook. I later started writing by taking over a cookery column and that led into broadcasting – none of it was planned but I absolutely loved it. I worked with Nick Bailey from Classic FM and set fire to his studio once or twice,” she laughs.

Does the popular author grow her own veg? “I have grown a lot in the past. We love peas and beans so we just grow those now. And we’ve got raspberry canes and currants in the garden. Herbs have always been very important to me and I’ve got a lovely herb bed just outside the kitchen window full of different sages, bronze fennel, sorrel, rosemary and bay. I love cooking with fresh herbs and using them in salads. I love broad beans with parsley sauce but I’m working on a recipe that keeps the herb but not the white sauce. Maybe a herby vinaigrette?” she says almost to herself. “Rhodri Morgan once challenged me to make a fat free Welsh cake. I managed it and sent him the recipe based on a fat free yoghurt.”
Gilli’s real passion is sourcing her ingredients. “ I love shopping on the wing, foraging for the ingredients and then putting a dish together with what I’ve found. The fun is sourcing the produce.

When I was based in Wales, she is now based in Yorkshire with husband Peter Cliff, I had to travel to London to meet with producers of Welsh produce. The logistics were daft but it inspired me to write about Welsh food and in the series Tastes of Wales we simply celebrated local food. I’m not too precious about organic produce. I think it is more important to be local and at the very best, straight out the garden. Organic beans from Kenya are just not the same.”

Gilli’s latest book Celtic Cuisine can be purchased from all good bookshops or visit for more details of Gilli’s cookery school (‘for men too,’ she adds).

Gilli’s Green Tips

Gilli and Peter have spent the last two years concentrating on ways to change their energy consumption. “We have put in solar panels which heat all our hot water and have cut down our electric bills enormously. She says and adds proudly, “I drive a Skoda 1.8 which does an amazing 55 miles to the gallon. I also play lots of golf which takes ages and keeps me out of the shops, stops me spending money and collecting all that packaging.” She laughs.

Fire Service

Recently voted Best Gardening Product of The Year, the enamelled Fire Bucket barbeque might come in handy now we are actually having a summer. Some bright spark has transformed the traditional fire bucket to provide a funky, portable barbeque for alfresco fun. £24.99 from or call 01923750075. The same company also have the great Tennis Fly Swatters. The fabulous electric bug-zapping, tennis racket style swatters are an effective and entertaining way to annihilate flies and mosquitoes for only £9.99.

Did You Know?

Houseflies hum in the middle octave, key of F and take off backwards; mosquitoes have 47 teeth and are twice as attracted to the colour blue than any other.

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