Quite a few books came into this house over the holidays, including a pair of cookery books by
Sally Bee, one called the Secret Ingredient and the other was her recently published The Recipe for Life.

Who is Sally Bee?  She is an English housewife (and mother of three) who suffered a devastating series of heart attacks at 36 years of age. Doctors gave up but she didn't and now, about six years later, she is “flying”. The books, as you might imagine, are full of healthy eating recipes.

Cook books come and go here but we got stuck into these immediately. First up was the Beef Stew with Guinness. Being true Corkonians, we scratched the Guinness and poured in Beamish instead (well, really, there was a can of the Cork brew in the house). The result was brilliant. Went down well.

Not all the 50cl of stout was used in the stew. What to do with the rest of it? Dug out an old recipe for Guinness cake and that turned out fine as Beamish Cake. Waste not, want not. Sally in any case is fairly flexible and advises using whatever substitute you have in your cupboard if you don’t have exactly the ingredient she recommends.

The next recipe we tried was her Chicken Curry with Sweet Onions and this won the approval of even our most fussy eaters. Just to keep that fussy eater happy we did compromise and threw in a few mushrooms but the curry was a gem, mild overall and with an unusual ingredient, apple juice, giving it a lovely sweet edge.

Next project is her Carrot and Butternut Squash Soup, quick and easy to make, good for you and it will keep for up to a week in the fridge.

No bother in finding the ingredients for these three of Sally’s recipes, all taken from the first book. But there is one that calls for low-fat mozzarella. Had a trawl through the English Market yesterday and one or two supermarkets but without success. Any ideas, anyone?

 In the meantime, thanks to Sally Bee. And thanks too to Donal Skehan, who introduced her via Twitter early last year.