Monday, 14 November 2011
Aggie MacKenzie - and your chance to win a cookbook
Aggie MacKenzie, 56, has just returned from a 400km charity cycle ride in Kenya. She says she's fine post ride, a few painful days with very swollen, surnburnt lips but that was nothing compared to the women with blistered frottoms. Yes, there! You may remember Aggie from the TV series How Clean Is Your House? I know her from my former, more glamorous, life. Many years ago - when Aggie was head of the Good Housekeeping Institute - we bonded over bicycles in the National Magazines car park. So, back from the bike tour, I finally had chance to catch up with the TV-presenter-turned-celebrity-chef (well, she's been on Come Dine With Me) and chat about cooking, cleaning and other stuff:
TNMA: Do you have a cleaner?
AM: Yes, she comes once a fortnight. I tidy up before she comes. It's a bit disrespectful not to clear up. I tidy the surfaces so the person can get cleaning - they're not there to pick up after you.
TNMA: OK, so we probably tidy up once a month, is that enough?
AM: A home needs to be clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy.
TNMA: Very diplomatic. You look very healthy and happy on the cover of your new cookbook what's your secret?
AM: I look a bit like Gloria Hunniford. Well, I do yoga once or twice a week, still cycle around London and I run round the park every morning. But I looked shit that day.
TNMA: So have they Photoshopped it?
AM: To be honest, I'm not sure. Probably.
TNMA: Do you have any style tips for my readers?
AM: Don't wear fuchsia, unless you want to look like a desperate divorcee. That colour is fucking grim on me. And get a good haircut. I like mine short as long as there aren't any spikey bits at the back, like a chicken. At the Abergavenny Food Festival a woman came up to me and told me she had two chickens called Kim and Aggie - though I'm not sure that's got anything to do with my hair.
TNMA: So what's your best vegetarian recipe then?
AM: Probably one of the puddings. We're really very meaty, the book's a bit thin on the veggie front because it's what we eat here. Oh I do a good fried cheese sandwich with sliced white bread, that's the best thing.
TNMA: Well, I'm partial to a cheese sandwich, but what about a pasta or risotto dish?
AM: Oh yes, there's a pumpkin risotto recipe in there. I once went to a risotto-making day with Valentina Harris and she took us through the method: chop the onion finely and cook it very slowly, don't let it colour. Add the rice, cook for ages till it's toasty and then the rice should sigh as the white wine goes into the pan.
TNMA: I like the idea of the rice sighing. So apart from a vegetarian cookbook, what's next?
AM: I've been studying a course in psychoanalytic psychology. It's hell but I enjoy it in a sado-masochistic way. I'd love to do a daytime telly programme on women who are obsessed with cleaning. Where the root of that is. A lot of that stuff is subconscious - you have to dig in, to unravel it and sort it out. I want it to be helpful to the person.
And now dear readers, I'm going to be helpful to you. To win a copy of Aggie's Family Cookbook all you have to do is answer the following question:
What's the topping for the Queen of Puddings?
There's only one copy, so all the correct entries will go into a hat to be drawn by Mr That's Not My Age on Saturday 19 November. Alternatively, you can buy a copy here.
And don't forget to check out Aggie's website and blog.