January 3, 2019



I have mentioned several times that the charity shops local to us are a rich source of cheap cook books.  For one or two pounds each I have picked up copies of books I would never have paid full price for and some of them are real gems. 

The above Rick Stein book that I acquired last winter was probably brand new at just £1.50.  The Harry Eastwood one had a slightly scuffed cover but the inside was pristine.books

These two were £1 each and in perfect condition.

Sharon's hotpot3

The slow cooker book, although appearing to be completely unused, delivered an added bonus – a piece of paper that fell out of it that appeared to be a list of ingredients for something called “Sharon’s hotpot”.  I had absolutely no idea who Sharon was but, intrigued, I felt compelled to try it!

Sharon's hotpot4

As the list was not really a recipe and with no quantities I had to guess how to proceed.  The ingredients were very similar to the everyday beef stew I normally make in my slow cooker although with slight differences - I hadn’t owned a jar of garlic salt for years.  I found myself wondering how Sharon had come to give the list to someone who then gave it away in a cook book that she seems to have never used.  Indeed, who was Sharon?……

Anyway, we had ours with a jacket potato and it was delicious!  Congratulations to Sharon, who ever she is!

This was the first time that a secondhand book delivered a bonus recipe.  You can read about the second time here.


oil for frying

500g stewing beef, cubed

1 onion, peeled and sliced

500ml beef stock (made with an Oxo cube)

1 large tsp English mustard

a sprinkle of garlic salt

a dash of Worcester sauce

2 sprigs rosemary

3 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced

a glass of red wine

4 heaped tsp plain flour


Heat the oil in a large frying pan and brown the beef.  Remove to the slow cooker.  Add the onion to the pan and brown slightly.  Remove and add to the slow cooker.

Add all the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker, sprinkling the flour over the top last of all.  Give it all a good stir so that all the ingredients are well mixed. 

Cook on high power for 6-8 hours, or until done, according to how your particular slow cooker works.

Serves 4.


  1. Good old Sharon, I've always liked her. That's a good hot pot and a reminder to get the slow cooker out of the cupboard. I've been trying to avoid buying more cookbooks in the charity shops but I've not quite kicked the habit despite having no space left on the shelves. A number of interesting American books have been turning up lately among the usual Gordon Ramsay, Nigella and River Cottage books.

    1. Phil, it's interesting to see which authors regularly turn up in charity shops. Around here I have seen scores of copies of Delia's "how to cheat at cooking" and all the Jamie Oliver books. Which is telling I think as the shops are in an area where a lot of the people that live nearby are precisely the ones that Jamie in particular is trying to reach out to with his books on how to cook fresh food cheaply and healthily.
      At the same time, there are more takeaways per head than the average and the supermarket aisles dedicated to crisps, pop and ready meals takes up more than half of the available shelf space.

  2. Haha, good on Sharon! I love the idea of slipping in a bonus recipe into a book destined for the charity shop. Might try it to spread some joy!