It's almost time for the return of the Great British Bake Off (20 August, BBC2, I think) and I'm not quite counting down the days as I'm far too busy with deadlines that finish just before the series starts. Sitting down with a mug of tea in front of Bake Off is something of a reward after a hectic few weeks. I'm looking forward to it though - new recipes, new people and Mary Berry being wonderful. I may yet pluck up the courage to try macarons and will see what chaos I can cause with a piping bag. I've been having fun cooking shortcakes and meringues and filling both with cream and berries. The strawberries are mostly over, but later varieties are ripening nicely. For the moment, I'm using up the raspberries and a Japanese wineberry that's more beautiful than any other berry. They're as small as a fingernail and the colour of garnets.
It does make it easier when baking's in fashion to sell books like Candy Nevill that's stuffed full of cakes, family meals and strawberries. Food enthusiasms aren't new - just how many recipe books and food shows are published and commissioned each year? It's good, too, I think to bring out a young adult title with vintage charm where cooking and learning about how to improve as a cook are at the heart of the novel. Yes, you make mistakes in cooking, but you learn from them. Mostly in the struggle to clear up the mess. I don't recommend letting your jam boil over either as it can take days to clean the cooker.