Layout and how to use…..

Layout of this useful project:

The layout of this ‘book’ is quite straightforward.

  1. Introduction to Rookie Cookie Cookery

That’s this section; telling you about the wonderful bits to come, then the basic ethos of cheating fairly – that is not necessarily following all the rules all of the time but always obeying the rules that MUST be followed, or you find yourself in the poo.  It’s worth a good scan through to see what you’ve got to come.  There’s also a really dry reference bit where you can look up things like oven temperatures & other essential but boring things that you’ll need to look at occasionally – and probably need to look up at the last minute!

It’s also an incredibly good cure for insomnia, I find.  I’ll pop them into a separate section as well, all on their own, cos they’s borin’.

  1. Equipment, books & those awkward ‘ingredient’ thingies: 

What you’ll need in your kitchen and what you need it all for.   And if you are starting from scratch, as in being a student (or having been kicked out of the marital/conjical home for whatever reason seemed adequate to the other half at the time), even a few wrinkles on low cost methods of obtaining it all – and reference to other cookbooks as well.  Where else would you find a book about cooking that recommends which other cookbooks to find…..especially cheaply from car boot sales ans charity shops?    Well, you’re onto a winner here.

Then there are all those ingredienty-type thingies.  Ok, I know that you know what a carrot is, but what do you do with the blasted thing?  (Answers in a plain brown envelope, addressed to….)  Well, this section tells you how to deal with these things in plain form… like their usual prep and how long they normally take to cook.

  • RAMBLE ALERT: A friend of mine had a rather nasty marriage break-up and he had to move into a flat on his own.  He didn’t know how long to boil his spuds for and had to ring his mum to find out – he was a 32 year-old father of two.  He’d been out at work all the time and simply didn’t know – he’d never found out; it wasn’t his fault.  He asked me to write this book (though, actually, the book he wanted me to write would have had a great many very unkind [though not unfair] references to his repeatedly unfaithful now ex-wife, who he referred to as ‘The B…, I won’t say it; you can guess); and so it was with his needs in view that I have continued.

Then you also have what to cook, how to get the best deal buying it, how to deal with it; all sorts of things about the basic ingredients that you’ll need to know; their basic preparation and major applications are all covered.

If you already have that basic knowledge, that’s fine; I’m sure that you’ll still find lots of new gems here for you – in fact they’ll be a bit like London buses….three will probably pop up at the same time!

3 – Tricks’n’Tips……and generally Helpful Bits: 

This is where the real nitty-gritty-cheaty-bits live and where you’ll find all the standard methods like how to make mash, how to make a basic mince & onion mixture to use as a base for a great many meals – but cheaply and easily.  Cheatily, in fact!  ….etc.

There is so much in this section that it could be a book in itself – but I don’t want to just give you that…. (a vague reference to Chris Tarrant and ‘Millionaire’ that probably fell on stony ground, but ne’mind)  so you’ll just have to look to see what other gems are included.

4 – The Recipe Bank:

This is where you have a choice.  You can either:

  1.  Pour through the 150 recipes manually to see what takes-yer-fancy, or:
  2. Enter some info, like ingredient, either “cheap’n’cheerful” or “splash out”, etc and see what the clever software finds for you.  With this method, the system will offer you the full number of recipes that satisfy that criteria.  You can then choose.  It does mean, however, that you’ll get a lot of chicken recipes, but not very many rabbit recipes.  Let’s see how we get on – the system’s not organised as yet.

Search Criteria: 

On the Recipe Bank page there is a search box.  Recipes are under keywords – look on the Welcome page, bottom right for them.  The bigger the print, the more there are included in the Bank.

Be aware of what others see:

Even if you are living alone, you still need to eat reasonably healthily; you can’t afford to just ‘slob out’ because of your own health; and anyway, if you balloon out because of excessive fast-food consumption you’ll feel bad and look even worse (fat’n’broke); and if you go the other way and start to get thinner everyone will start to think that you’ve given up and given in and start to fuss around you (thin’n’ill)  – and you don’t want that do you!  So this bit shows you how to eat well without straining the muscles in your wallet.

Cooking for friends:

At some point you’ll need to impress someone with your prowess in the kitchen, for whatever reason.  It may just be a few friends who are concerned about you; possibly even your parents.  Of course, it might be ‘someone nice’ – possibly a potential future L.I.

Remember that the path to true love doesn’t always run smoothly, but it can have a wonderful start with the application of a nice cream sauce……… 

No, not spread all over and licked……..  T.M.I.

 Illustrations & Photos:

You’ll find that there are photos of some recipes, but not very many.  It would be impossible to include pictures of each and every variation to every combination of food, as, for example, you may use any type of pasta with a Bolognese sauce – and there are reputedly six hundred types of pasta, spaghetti is only one, and I confess that spaghetti is the pasta I like least of all.

The photographs are all genuine.  By that I mean that they show REAL FOOD.  Many recipe books and sites use idealised models or food that has been highly coloured, propped up, modelled, waxed, sprayed with hair spray or glued together with hair gel instead of real, edible food.  All the food pictured herein was consumed with gusto after the photo sessions by my wife Jan and I, Chris, the initial photographer and a number of close friends who had been invited in specifically to consume the necessary glut of cooked items.  So it is actual food – not wax.  Any imperfections that you may spot are there because it’s real grub – it is not pretend food! (Yes, I DO feel passionate about that – sorry!)

It is a basic book:

You see, this is not meant to be a flashery cookery bookery.  At this moment in time you just need a simple, reliable and interesting source of easy info to refer to, so that you can discover which ingredient needs what treatment to make it nice, and what goes with what, written in a way that should make you smile.  With just a few nice bits thrown in.

The recipes are written so that you can follow them:

Yes, they are long and they are verbose; they ramble and may continue over the page.  Most have an amount of humour, they are often anecdotal; they are intended to be helpful to the beginner-type rookie-cookie and to answer your questions as and when they arise.  So for best use of this book, you’ll need to read the recipe through first, so that you do not encounter any surprises or difficulties during the actual cooking process.

So, you should:

  1. Read the recipe right through.
  2. Print it out and highlight what you need to do the cooking
  3. Gather all the ingredients, pots, pans and bits you need
  4. Follow the recipe & cook
  5. Taste your success!

Yes, and I’m hoping that you’ll learn how to enjoy cooking for yourself and others….and have a bit of a giggle on the way.

 Low Cost:

It’s a relatively low cost book too (even more so now as it’s on the net with voluntary contributions…. An “Honesty Box”) so it shouldn’t exert too much pressure on those sensitive wallet muscles.  It’s not a ‘normal’ recipe book – it wasn’t intended to be.  You can get a ‘conventional’ cookbook anywhere and I’ll definitely recommend a few as we go along – Aunty Delia gets a few good mentions for certain, and there are other books that you’ll possibly find a good use for as well.  Often for pence in charity shops/markets.

Visit: to leave a donation.

“Can you boil water?”

No previous knowledge is assumed, so you needn’t worry about encountering any blasé instruction, completely unexplained, to “make a voluté” or “sauté until tender” or anything like that – it’ll all be explained to you as we go along.   General cooking terms/processes are described in Tricks’n’Tips anyway.

But, yes, you will need to know what water is, of course, even if you’re lost on how to get it to boil.

 Veggies considered:

Quite a few Vegetarian recipes have been included, though probably more for reasons of low cost and to vary the menu rather than feeling sorry for the poor little lambs in the fields.

I respect vegetarians in general, but the basic and harsh reality of the ‘conscience veggie’ (members of the famous ‘meat is murder’ brigade) is that if our farmers were not paid to raise animals for meat we wouldn’t see them in the fields at all.  Farmers are, after all, business people and need to make a profit to live. 

A very committed veggie friend of ours still cooks meat for her family.  That’s her reality and I applaud her for it….…and carnivores don’t have to eat meat all the time – it is actually ‘allowed’ for you to have a veggie dish now and again.  Even I enjoy the occasional meat-free meal.

Anyway, whatever your view, there are some really tasty veggie bits in here, so just enjoy them and use them as you wish.

Alterations & variations:

For some recipes in The Recipe Bank, I have included a number of variations that have been recommended by people who have tried them – and I have sometimes even given them a mention for their trouble!  I like feedback.

 Initial Costs/Self Confidence:

Keeping down the cost of surviving in the kitchen has been one of the driving considerations in writing this survival guide; another has been that you may not have the highest level of self-confidence in your cooking at this point in time; but you will have, soon, because you’ll soon have the knowledge and you’ll gain experience.  You’ll soon find it fun!


The recipes have been written more with cost in mind than strictly monitoring precisely how any grams of fat they contain or whether they contain nuts, bolts or washers.  If you want an out-and-out health-food recipe book, go buy one; cos this just ain’t it.

The Hairy Bikers had BBC2 TV series called ‘The Hairy Dieters’.  I like it; it’s intelligent.  The first prog introduced a low-cal version of lasagne, ditching the pasta and using sheets of unwrapped leek instead; very clever to my mind.  They’ll have a book out – go mention it to someone who’ll buy it for you.  Santa’s a good bet!

However, health has still been a big consideration in these scribblings, especially as the overwhelming majority of the ingredients suggested are unprocessed (either fresh or frozen) – and I will never ever recommend putting some of the muck into your food that you are probably liable to be eating when you consume a cheap, conventional fast-food grot-burger-nugget-slab in a cardboard/cotton wool bun; be it with or without an organic gherkin and fat-free lettuce.  I know that these popular fast-food places are convenient, but look at the cost of habitually eating there and consider the possible consumption of all sorts of unstated processed chemical ingredients.  You might not be quite so keen to eat the common commercial fast-food grot-burger-nugget-slab if you REALLY knew what they contained, or the frozen-cheap-as-chips-and-cook-it-yourself version that are annoyingly always available at the commonly-used supermarkets and cut-price outlets.

And no, I’m not going to even start to hint about it.  I’ll let Hugh F-W & Jamie do that on telly – they know much more about it all than I do, and anyway, they have better legal teams.  I’m not trying to do an exposé; I’m just trying to help rookie-cookies!

How to use this site:

Scan it through so that you have some idea of what’s in here.  Just take the time to scroll through once so that you start to recognise what you are looking for so that you can start looking after yourself.  Yes, I know that you may not be feeling too ‘up’ at the moment, or you may even be due at the pub to meet your mates for a pint or five in a little while, but just quickly……..

Briefly scrolling though it would help you when you sneak-a-peek into the kitchen cupboards of your friends, because you might actually start to recognise a few of these ingredient type things and possibly start to accumulate a few bits of other people’s abandoned gear………

….and finally……     We have to be so careful these days not to tread on anyone’s toes because people can be quicker to sue than to po….. no, Colin; don’t SAY it!

 Recipe origin:

Is there actually such a thing as a ‘new recipe’?     For me, cooking is the manipulation of certain materials using certain tools and processes, a bit like making a car.  Occasionally there are some new ideas and concepts but basically food is food is food.  Any recipe is more likely to have been done before than not; though perhaps in a slightly different guise. 

As most of the concoctions and combinations in here are basically down to me, and I have been trying to get ideas for years, there is very little actual possibility of any recipe in this book being ‘completely original’.   However, if I have knowingly used anyone’s recipe or idea, I have credited that source. 

I have neither the time nor the wish to upset anyone at all, so I have contacted anyone who I considered might be at all interested in this venture to let them know.  If they have asked to be credited, as has Delia Smith, then I have done so. 

Jamie Oliver is mentioned because I have adopted some of his clever and sensible ideas and The Hairy Bikers are mentioned because they have done some work that I consider to be original and clever, but I have no idea (nor, in truth, do I actually care) whether their idea of replacing lasagne with sheets of unrolled leek was theirs or anyone else’s.  I have tried to cover all possibilities but if someone has been inadvertently missed then I am willing, nay, even eagerto apologise both profusely and publically.  I do not purport to be the original source of anything (except trouble for my missus) so if anyone thinks that I have intentionally nicked their recipe they are completely mistaken; I categorically state that I have not.  However, I must have gleaned the idea/combination/process from somewhere, as do all cooks. 

Remember:  I’m no chef either!    

 At the tail end of all emails I send is: LEGAL DISCLAIMER: “It wasn’t me, Occifer”

I am sure that this clearly communicates my intentions.


Remember that ALL of the proceeds from this book are going towards the running of St Nicholas Hospice in Bury St.Edmunds, Suffolk, so If you like this facility, please tell everyone that it would be good to use it and make a contribution [Financial system details to com].  Thank you.

 ….and if you don’t like this site; tell ME.

 I hope that you get many happy hours of cooking from this site, and lots of laughs from it as well.  Keep all the printouts and use them again and again…

Happy cooking.



The Very Boring Reference Section:                Yawn!


Kg/g Lbs/oz
15g ½ oz
25g 1 oz
50g 2 oz
100g 4oz  (¼ lb)
250g 9 oz
450g 1 lb
900g 2 lb
1kg 2 ¼ lb
2kg 4 ½ lb
3kg 7 lb
5kg 11 lb


Liquid measurement:

Ml/L Fl.oz/Pint
25ml 1 fluid oz
50ml 2 fl oz
100ml 3 ½ fl oz
250ml 8 fl oz
500ml 17 fl oz
600ml 1 pt (20 fl oz)
1 litre 1 ¾ pints


Oven temperature comparison:

When writing these recipes I have used various ways of describing the oven temperature to be fair to everyone.

This simple chart will give you all the info you need to ensure that you have set your oven to the correct setting.

DISCLAIMER: All information offered is approximate.

(…as are all oven thermostats, temperature controls and ovens!).


Gas Mk Degs C Degs F Described as
¼ 110 225 Very slow (Incredibly duh!)
½ 120 250 Very slow (Very duh!)
1 140 275 Slow (Just duh!)
2 150 300 Slow (but just a bit less Duh!)
3 160 325 Warm
4 180 350 Moderate
5 190 375 Moderately hot
6 200 400 Fairly hot
7 220 425 Hot
8 230 450 Very hot
9 240 475 Bloody hell – now that’s what I call HOT!

Alternatively…… I found this and thought that it could be good for you.

Copy it, save it and print it out.  Stick itbehind the cupboard/pantry door for easy reference.  I would strongly advise NOT sticking inside the OVEN door though…..

Conversion plate



Freezer Star Ratings:                This freezer compartment can:

*        -6C                                  Store frozen food for 1 week

**       -12C                                Store frozen food for 1 month

***      -18C                                Store frozen food for 3-12 months

****     -18C or colder.                Store food for 3-12 months

A 4* freezer can also freeze fresh food – the others can’t be relied upon to freeze anything from fresh; don’t try it .



Basic cooking times: 

Boiling/steaming (not steaming in microwave)……

Old spuds for mash:                             20 mins

New spuds:                                15 – 25 mins

Carrots:                                    15 mins

Sprouts:                                    10 mins

Runner/French beans:                10 mins

Cabbage:                                   JUST DON’T BOIL CABBAGE!


Very basic oven roasting times for meats/poultry:

Chicken:                Mk5/375F/190C                20 mins per lb, plus 10 extra.

Lamb:                    Mk5/375F/190C                20 mins per lb, plus 10 extra.

Pork:                     Mk5/375F/190C                20 mins per lb, plus 20 extra.

Beef:                                                                     See individual recipe

Ok then; let’s get on with it. . . . . . . . . .