3 OF THE BEST WI BOOKS FOR WI LADIES…

When my WI Country Woman’s Year 1960 by Shirley Paget book popped through my door I was so excited to open it and even more thrilled when I saw that the cover was a special retro cloth one.

I love anything WI (although not a member) and this book covers it all. From cider-making and hedgerow basketry to public speaking and committee-meeting protocol and of course, not forgetting the jam making.

If you can’t get inspired to have a go at smocking, upholstery repairs, bread making, lampshade, Christmas wreaths, wallpapering, corn dollies, Welsh quilting or crystallized flowers then I will eat my hat. It’s right up my street and I can’t wait to give one of the crafts a go.

Inside the book it says that a great deal has happened to change the lives of women living in the countryside since 1960 when this book was last published, and it is fascinating to note these changes. But we have since lost or forgotten so many rural skills and pleasures. Following the four seasons, here are dozens of different tasks and hobbies re-discovered in this WI Country Woman’s Year: Six decades on, modern readers may no longer wish to live like their countryside sisters of two generations ago, but they will be struck by the happy gusto with which the then-450,000 members of the WI went about enjoying their busy country lives throughout the year.

The WI Country Woman’s Year 1960 by Shirley Paget is available from Amazon and other good book stores at £15.99

The WI Cookbook : The First 100 Years Hardcover by Mary Gwynn, available from Amazon and other good bookshops from £11.22

This beautifully packaged book, curated by food journalist Mary Gwynn, brings together the 100 best loved members’ recipes nationwide. Organised decade by decade, and setting each recipe in its historical and social context, it spans everything from jams and preserves to main courses, puddings and bakes. Nostalgic favourites like Toad in the Hole and Kedgeree feature alongside contemporary hits such as Lamb Pot Roast with Nettle Champ and Italian Lamb with Roasted Sweet Peppers.

Here are recipes created during the war to make the most of limited supplies (like Stuffed Cod Steak and Apple and Fig Roll) and ideas to overcome the challenges of food rationing (like Elderberry and Apple Jelly and Corned Beef Hash) to current day recipes such as Venison Steaks with Quick Bearnaise Sauce and finally the WI’s own signature cake: The Centenary Fruit Cake from North Yorkshire. Fully illustrated from the archives of the WI, alongside beautiful food photography, this gorgeous cookbook will prove a firm favourite with keen cooks of all ages.

The WI Big Book of Baking Hardcover by Liz Herbert available from Amazon and other good book shops.

With over 200 recipes, the Big Book of Baking will guide you effortlessly through all the stages of bread-making as well as giving advice on how to bake the perfect cake. Suitable for beginners and experienced bakers alike, there is something here for everyone: all types of loaves, pastries, rolls and buns; sweet and savoury breads plus yeast, gluten and wheat free options; muffins and cup cakes, sponges and chocolate cakes; suggestions for cake toppings and finishes Tempting treats for every day and delicious ideas for a festive flourish – all the inspiration you need to hone your baking skills and produce impressive results every time.

4 KITCHEN ACCESSORY SITES TO DIE FOR…

I don’t know about you but I could spend literally ALL day looking through kitchen accessory sites and still end up with a list of must have’s. My favourite four which I’m always browsing are –

1. The White Company – I just love everything white in my kitchen so I can accessorise in another colour. This mince pie cake stand is on my list of must have’s before Christmas of course, so I can put my mince pies on it. This sleek and stylish mince pie stand is made in Portugal from local stoneware clay that’s renowned for its quality. Painted with a lovely white glaze with a soft-grey patina along the edge, it’s just the thing to showcase freshly baked mince pies, canapés or other nibbles. The perfect accompaniment to a drinks party or relaxed get together, it makes hosting easy. £40

Also The White Company apron, yes it needs replacing annually as it gets so mucky but I use the old one for when I’m painting. It would make a great Christmas gift. And who doesn’t like to pose in a White Company apron? This high-quality apron is a wonderful choice for any kitchen. Made from 100% cotton, it features an adjustable neck strap for extra comfort and deep front pockets to store your kitchen utensils. This smart style provides maximum protection against spills and splashes and is finished with The White Company logo. Pair with our matching The White Company oven glove for a complete look, or lovely gift idea. £28

2. Ikea – You can walk 10,000 steps getting around their stores and still miss something in their kitchen range that you had seen in one of their designer kitchens so I prefer to go online. One of my favourites from Ikea is their over the top Chopping Board. The chopping board collects meat and fruit juice in the milled groove and prevents it from spilling on to your worktop. Made of bamboo, which is an easy-care, hardwearing natural material that is also gentle on your knives. You can also use the chopping board as a serving tray for food such as cheese or cold cuts.The weight provides a stable base for cutting.Wash this product before using it for the first time. What’s not to love at a cost of only £10

Also, Ikea’s food containers with lids, of which they have many, and yet again at very reasonable prices from £2.50 but I especially love the ones with the bamboo lids.

3. H&M Home – they have a great range of linen napkins which I am really into at the moment. They can change the whole room colour by adding a completely different colour although these black are my favourite for £8.99 for two. The tablecloth is £34.99

Also, their Stone Salt & Pepper Bowls ( which could be used for something else) will look fab on your table and would also make a great Christmas Gift for a very reasonable price of £17.99

4. Graham & Green, if you love vintage then you will some of their vintage inspired kitchen accessories. Like their enamel range and this great enamel pie dish for £12 Large enough for meals for the whole family, this pie dish can handle everything from deep filled pies to layered pasta dishes. Durable and classically stylish, this recognisable white and blue enamelware has been a British kitchen staple since the 1920’s.

Or, their vintage-inspired milk bottle holder, crafted from powder coated steel with four compartments and a handy wooden handle for ease of carrying. Perfect for those joining moving away from plastic and back to old-fashioned glass milk bottles. £20

THE WI COUNTRY WOMAN’S YEAR 1960 BOOK REVIEW…

When my WI Country Woman’s Year 1960 by Shirley Paget book popped through my door I was so excited to open it and even more thrilled when I saw that the cover was a special retro cloth one.

I love anything WI (although not a member) and this book covers it all. From cider-making and hedgerow basketry to public speaking and committee-meeting protocol and of course, not forgetting the jam making.

If you can’t get inspired to have a go at smocking, upholstery repairs, bread making, lampshade, Christmas wreaths, wallpapering, corn dollies, Welsh quilting or crystallized flowers then I will eat my hat. It’s right up my street and I can’t wait to give one of the crafts a go.

Inside the book it says that a great deal has happened to change the lives of women living in the countryside since 1960 when this book was last published, and it is fascinating to note these changes. But we have since lost or forgotten so many rural skills and pleasures. Following the four seasons, here are dozens of different tasks and hobbies re-discovered in this WI Country Woman’s Year: Six decades on, modern readers may no longer wish to live like their countryside sisters of two generations ago, but they will be struck by the happy gusto with which the then-450,000 members of the WI went about enjoying their busy country lives throughout the year.

The WI Country Woman’s Year 1960 by Shirley Paget is available from Amazon and other good book stores at £15.99