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I love books. Always have. I even thought once of being a librarian, but that lost its shine a bit when I realised it didn't mean I could make a career out of sitting reading books all day.

produceNow I have a house packed with books. At last count some years ago I had over a thousand cookbooks which may sound extreme, but they have accumulated slowly over the years. Many have been gifts, many rescued from remainder bins for a dollar or so. Some have provided the stimulus for a fine meal, others have given me so much joy just to turn the pages and taste the various dishes in my head as I read. Less fattening, too, to do it that way!

Now I am lucky enough to be sent cookbooks from time to time. New books, hefty books, books full of luscious photography, too, as these days gastro-porn is a potent selling factor. It is all such a long way since the meagre offerings when I first married. In those days The Golden Wattle Cookbook and my mother's favourite, the CWA Cookbook were about all a girl had to use.

Recent acquisitions, courtesy of various publishers include Produce (Fairfax Books, rrp $59.95) by Lynne Mullins, released in time to make an ideal Christmas present.

Lynne is a friend of mine, an award-winning Sydney food writer and one of the most-widely published people I know, who also appears on TV and radio. Produce is a chunky book, crammed with details on more than 100 ingredients you will find at farmers' markets or greengrocers with sections for fruit, vegetables, herbs and exotics as well as a brief history on each ingredient and advice and recipes for the best way to select and prepare them. It is filled with magnificent photographs as well, tantalising enough to have you grabbing your shopping bag and running off immediately to gather the makings for dinner. Available from all good bookstores, or order direct from The Age on 1300 656 052 or at


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