About me


My friend Nick once said to me, "Elly, you'll never get a job anywhere, because people will read your CV, assume you are morbidly obese and not invite you for interview".

(I am not - in fact - morbidly obese).

In April 2010, after promptings from various friends and far too many targeted Facebook/Google adverts offering me diet pills, I decided my obsession with food should no longer remain confined to random postings on Facebook and the occasional uploaded blurry iPhone photo. I started Nutmegs, seven more as a personal hobby than anything else, a way of documenting my adventures in the kitchen throughout university and beyond.

This proved a challenge at times. Student kitchens are not particularly suited to haute cuisine and high-level photography. The two I inhabited during my time at Oxford university were mostly fluorescent yellow with hideous wipe-clean faux-granite worktops and a crockery and utensil collection constantly plagued by a thin film of grease no matter how much washing up liquid I applied. All the usual woes of sharing a kitchen were present, from housemates leaving pans dirty (at one point our cleaner bought a special crate to house them in) to the freezer being left open overnight (I’m still mourning the loss of several punnets of redcurrants).

Behind the scenes on a Nutmegs, seven photo shoot... 

Yet I managed. I never had to resort to cooking pasta in a kettle by sellotaping down the ‘on’ switch, as friends of mine did. I made pasta from scratch, bread from scratch, huge roast dinners, multiple flavours of homemade ice cream, enough cakes to feed half of Oxford for a year. I cooked razor clams, pigs’ cheeks, gurnard, samphire, loquats, kumquats, teal, dogfish…every weird and wonderful ingredient I could get my hands on. I even made my own cheese, once.

I will eat pretty much anything. The only things I do not like are yoghurt and parsnips. This revelation is, without fail, always met with consternation and outrage. It would seem that parsnips inspire a tenacious and fierce loyalty among their devout followers, a group which seems to encompass the entire world, minus myself. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I am obsessed with fruit. While at Oxford my life was never truly happy unless I had at least two full fruit bowls in my room (extra happiness points scored if said bowls included figs, alphonso mangoes, or ripe papaya). I eat fruit at every meal, always thinking of delicious ways to sneak it into my savoury cooking as well as my desserts. You’ll find that most recipes on this blog contain fruit. Some of them might sound like rather outlandish combinations but, by and large, they work (yes, even the fish curry with mango – I promise).


I love cooking anything and everything, with a few specifics. I am a huge fan of Middle Eastern food - heady combinations of spices, syrups, pulses, yoghurt and meat frequently make an appearance at my dinner table, even more so since I spent a month travelling round Turkey, Syria and Jordan in 2010. My favourite meal is breakfast, and I am always coming up with new and delicious variations on porridge, baked oatmeal, bread and preserves to liven up my morning meals - I even make my own granola. In September 2012 I visited Vietnam and Cambodia, and brought home a ravenous appetite for all things south-east Asian; ever since it's rare that a week goes by without some lemongrass, galangal, coconut and lime-heavy dish appearing in my kitchen. I have a weakness for the satisfaction and frugality of making my own jam and bread, and few things make me happier than cooking a good crumble.

Travelling makes me almost as happy as food, particularly because it so often involves it. I'm particularly fond of Italy, and try to go there every year to maintain my less-than-perfect Italian and bolster a deep ingrained (no pun intended) need for carbohydrates. I'm also more than a little obsessed with Asia. I love nothing more than travelling round a country, getting a feel for its people and its food, writing down everything that passes my lips in a little notebook, taking vast quantities of photos, then coming home and writing all about it in order to relive the memories.

Combining food, photography and travel...an Easter market in Prague

At the moment I'm at the University of York, studying for a PhD in children's literature. Specifically, I look at representations of the Arthurian legend in children's literature from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century - I essentially get to read children's books about knights and damsels and call it work. This is just a cover story though, really, because my entire life revolves around food. I love my PhD and the fact that the lifestyle still allows me time and space to cook, eat, write and photograph, and ultimately hope to pursue an academic career that involves food in some aspect (and preferably travel, too - I have totally realistic expectations of my future life).

I do manage to fit in a few other things in my life, though. I do a lot of sport, to counteract the time I spend eating: current hobbies include swimming, running, horse riding, scuba diving and kickboxing, and I completed my first triathlon in May 2013.

I once thought myself a bit tragic for my fixation on food. Then I thought about all the times I’ve spent the day in a state of mild excitement because I knew I’d be coming home to cook something exotic and delicious that evening, and realized that not many people are lucky enough to have something to look forward to that much every single day. I’m grateful for my sense of culinary adventure.

I rarely cook the same thing twice. I’m always eager to try out new recipes, either those I’ve read or those I’ve invented in my head. For some reason my best recipes are invented while I’m in the swimming pool (the irony that I am burning calories while thinking about more ways to consume them is not lost on me). I have a voracious appetite, literally, for the weird and wonderful as well as the downright delicious. I love trying out new ingredients, the more obscure the better, and coming up with interesting ways to showcase them. This blog is a record of my kitchen adventures, of the interesting, exciting and delicious things I’ve stumbled across in life. Sometimes I even quite like the photos I come up with, too, though I still have a lot to learn (and buy) in the arena of food photography.

I was a notoriously picky eater until about the age of 15. I lived off cottage cheese, fish fingers and cheese sandwiches. My parents left me to it, always predicting that one day I'd be ravenous for anything and everything food-related. It seems they were right.

For more rambling about why I love cooking and other stories, see my first ever blog post here.

Nutmegs, seven has been featured in the Guardian; my recipes have featured in the Mail on Sunday magazine, on Good to Know Recipes and student cooking website Beyond Baked Beans. I have also written for lovefood.comThe Foodie Bugle, and Reuters. I currently write two monthly columns for the York Press. In April 2013 I appeared in the first two heats of ITV's 'Food Glorious Food'.

10 comments:

  1. "My friend Nick once said to me, "Elly, you'll never get a job anywhere, because people will read your CV, assume you are morbidly obese and not invite you for interview"." haha this is brilliant! love your blog and love how much you love food x

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  2. Thanks Shu Han...it's so true though. When people meet me after reading the blog, they often look me up and down with a sort of disgruntled expression, as if to say "Hmph. You're not fat like I thought you'd be."

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  3. Hi, this is Martin from Hong Kong. We met in Hanoi Cooking Centre for the market tour. Nice to know you during the tour!

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  4. Hi Martin! Was great to meet you, I hope you enjoyed sampling the delights of Hanoi's street food scene as much as I did!

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  5. Hi,
    Just found your blog, I know there's a lot of food blogs out there, but I have blog envy and addiction and surprised I haven't come across yours yet. Your recipes are too tempting to ignore I'll have to convert measures, your photos excellent, everything really looks very fantastic. Count me in as another fan.

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    1. Thanks Thomas, that's really nice to hear!

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  6. Hi, I'm currently a grad student at Ox and just came across your blog. It's a gem!

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  7. Thanks Natalie, that's so kind of you! I hope you're enjoying Oxford!

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  8. Hi Elly, I've recently discovered your blog and absolutely love your recipes and photography. I see you're writing for a number of publications and sites already, I'd love to have a conversation about this and featuring your recipes on our site, what is the best way to have a chat? anthony.pannell at theperfectcellar.com

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  9. Love your blog and recipes! I think you may be a granddaughter I was never told about. :-}

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