Last week, my Nigella Giveaway ended, and lucky winner Ali won a SIGNED copy of Nigella Lawson's new book, Nigella Christmas. The wonderful people at Hyperion not only gave me the chance to do the Nigella Giveaway, but to read through the book myself and share my thoughts with you.
I was delighted at the opportunity.
Nigella has been my newest Food Network interest. She's fun. Funky. British. After reading Nigella Christmas, I can truly say that her book follows suit perfectly.
My first impression of a book is its cover. I know. This seems terribly judgemental, as you technically can't judge a book by its cover. But we all do it. It's the first thing that catches our eye. It either draws us in or bores us onward.
Check out the image at the top of this post. The cover of Nigella Christmas is festive. Red and green with a smiling Nigella enticing us to lift the book's large front binding.
She even offers us cookies on a tray.
Ok, Nigella. I'm in.
Inside the front cover, readers are engaged by large, beautiful photos. Vivid images of drinks, casseroles and decorations. Pictures so real I could practically tip the glass to my lips and take a drink. One could read this book in mid-Summer, only to find themselves immediately ready to celebrate the holidays.
As I read Nigella's words, I was struck by her honesty. She's real. She doesn't try to paint herself as prim and proper. She is rough around the edges, yet refined, which makes her completely relatable. Nigella is blunt, confessing right off the bat that while she loves Christmas, she is "simply put, a heathen." I was caught off guard by this notion. Reading on, I was endeared to the way Nigella embraces the celebratory and festive qualities of the season, welcoming the idea of "shining a light in the darkness, providing warmth in the coldness." Her words are beautiful and her perspective is refreshing.
Over the past 2 months, many of you journeyed with me on the Rethinking Holidays adventure. I was pleased to find Nigella right alongside us in this endeavor. She says of gift giving: "I'd like to feel that what I'm giving meant something." The thought resonated with everything I was striving for this holiday season. I felt instant commaradarie with her.
One of the chapters I loved the most is entitled, "All Wrapped Up." Here, readers will find an assortment of edible and handmade gifts. From infused vodkas to spiced vinegars to tasty treats, these gifts are a welcome change from the jarred cookie mixes we've become accostomed to.
The recipes in this book are fantastic (can we say 'Pomegranate Martini'?) and resourceful. I love to read through cookbooks, turning down corners of pages I intend to try. Many times, I struggle to imagine what a finished recipe might look like. I confess that without a vision of the end product, I sometimes discard a recipe. (Gasp. Don't judge me). The photos in Nigella Christmas jump out of the page and onto the kitchen counter. I quickly found a handful of recipes that I wanted to try simply from viewing the pictured finished meal. Are you hosting your first holiday dinner for a large party? Nigella gives an almost step-by-step on how to serve a holiday dinner for 10-12 people, right down to the hour-by-hour breakdown.
One aspect of the book I found most appealing were the tips scattered along the bottom of each page. These blurbs give readers tips on making or freezing things ahead, easing the chaos of a given holiday event. It's like Nigella is right there next to you, with her charming british accent, coaching you ingredient by ingredient, "You can do it!"
Yes I can!
I thoroughly enjoyed paging through Nigella Christmas. It is festive, exciting and motivating.
Upon finishing the book, I wanted to hop a plane across the pond to celebrate Christmas with Nigella. I didn't. My family would have missed me. And Nigella most likely would have thought I was a total creeper.
All weird joking aside, I am excited to hold onto this book as a holiday resource guide. Because of the resources in this book, I seriously intend to throw a holiday party next year. I know with Nigella's recipes, tips and ideas, I have the capabilities to pull off a great event.
As you begin to compile a list of "Must Have Books of 2010," I highly recommend picking this one up. Can I make a suggestion? Get it now. Yes, I know Christmas just ended. But you have a whole year to look through the book and try out recipes. After you've mastered the meals and the drinks (I'm sure it won't be too hard to find some taste-testers. I will gladly volunteer), take some time a few weeks before next December to plan out a rough "Game Plan For the Holidays." Once the Season comes upon you, you will be armed and ready for Festivity, with Nigella Christmas as your guide.
And maybe next year, instead of going completely out of your mind, you can sit back and enjoy the Holiday season.
All thanks to Nigella.
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Have you read Nigella Christmas? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Do you have a book that deserves to be on Steph's Must Have Books of 2010?
Let me know, and I will review it on the blog for the rest of the community!
**Check back later this week for another great review for a Must Have Book of 2010!!**