(Part of a weekly series by a group of bloggers, featuring Gourmet Live’s 50 Women Game Changers in Food – see end of post for list of bloggers participating & their blogs)
At #44 on the list of 50 Women Game Changers in Food, Nigella Lawson doesn’t really need an introduction. Her name and fame speak for her. She’s the reason why everyone wants to be a ‘domestic goddess’ and sensual cooking took on a whole new meaning. That alluring smile of hers can draw the attention of even the blindest bat. Even if one’s not really interested in cooking, you can stare mindlessly at the gorgeous face gliding across the kitchen, ruffling through her pantry to show us interesting bits of knick-knacks hidden inside and cooking up food we can all relate to. And that’s what I love about Nigella. There’s no fancy moves, fancy techniques or juggling a million bowls in the air…even the way she cuts her vegetables is just like anyone would. It’s her charisma and inviting persona that charms her way into your life.
Nigella’s built quite the empire out of her love for cooking, despite the lack of any professional training. The words of her late husband, John Diamond, speak volumes and ring so true – “How proud I am of you and what you have become. The great thing about us is that we have made us who we are.”
Nigella holds a Degree in Medieval and Modern Languages from Oxford and that led to an admirable career in journalism. Not happy being a full-time executive, she quit and started freelance writing, working on articles and columns for the likes of The Daily Telegraph, Evening Standard, Vogue, The Times Magazine, Gourmet and Bon Appetit. She was inspired to write her first cookbook, How to Eat, when she saw a dinner party host reduced to tears with a dessert mishap. That was followed by her widely popular cookbook, How to be a Domestic Goddess, that won her the title of Author of the Year at the British Book Awards in 2001. She went on to host her own cooking show, Nigella Bites and write many more cookbooks that would become people favorites.
It was news to me to learn that she comes from a very distinguished family – her father was the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet and her mother, a socialite, “celebrated beauty” and heiress to the J. Lyons & Co. fortune.
It isn’t a wonder then why Nigella hated being judged based on her family reputation rather than let her work speak for her. Well, at least ignoramuses like me, like her for the right reason. I will be honest, I was quite enchanted by her shows and absolutely love the tone of her voice. It certainly adds to the sensuality that is attributed to her.
I’ve been so enchanted that my post for the series got delayed! Hah! Not really, but I’ll go with that story. I picked a very simple breakfast bar recipe from her collection since breakfast is the meal I most tend to skip. I remember when I was working, I’d always be rushing to get to work and invariably skipped breakfast. These bars, though, are perfect for that. You can make them ahead and just grab a couple on the go! It also works for days when you’re left scratching your head wondering what to eat for breakfast. And these are just basic bars, so you can throw in or subtract ingredients according to what you love.
Breakfast Bars by Nigella Lawson
- 1 (14 oz) can condensed milk
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, roasted sesame)
- 1 cup almonds (or any other nut or nut combination)
Preheat the oven to 250degF. Oil a 23 x 33 x 4cm baking tin.
Warm the condensed milk in a large pan. Meanwhile, mix together all the other ingredients and then add the warmed condensed milk, using a rubber or wooden spatula to fold and distribute.
Spread the mixture into the tin and press down with the spatula to even the surface. If you want to use your hands, either wear gloves or oil your hands to prevent sticking.
Bake for 1 hour, then remove from the oven and, after about 15 minutes, cut into squares or bards according to your fancy. Let cool completely.