Well - I freely own up to not being a cheffy cook. I love watching the cheffy food programmes but prefer Nigel Slater or Our Delia to Michel Roux or Heston Bloomen-whotsit any day of the week! I don't 'dress the plate' and I don't smear or foam or do any of those fancy, cheffy 'techniques' that people win Masterchef with!
In fact the nearest I get to being cheffy is that I am lucky enough to have a thermomix. I LOVE my thermomix, just love it. It, or rather, she gets used every day, sometimes several times. I boil my eggs in her, steam my veg or rice, cook my pasta, make my soups, custard, sauces . . . and much more.
Anyway, to answer the question . . .
1. I'm lucky enough to have been parented my a mum who cooked from scratch all the time and was happy to let me 'help' from a very young age. I picked up a lot of basic stuff that way well before I needed to fend for myself. Quite a lot of what I make is adapted from what Mum used to make - I owe her so much.
2. Recipe books. I have stacks but there are a few treasures among them. I have an old Good Housekeeping compendium that has a story attached. When I was at college, my mum used to drive and elderly gentleman to hospital every day so he could visit his very poorly wife. After she died, he heard I was getting married so, as a sort of pass it on thing, he gave me his wife's old book as a wedding present. It's the most precious book I own, for sentimental reasons, and surprisingly useful, for all it is so old.
I really love a little book I won in a Give away draw on Sue's blog. It is very frustrating that I cannot use any of the recipes yet, being on this regime pre-gall bladder op, but as soon as it's all over . . .
(cont. in another post or this will be too long)