The weekend is what you make of it - there's endless opportunities whether you're at work or play - and we love hearing how you spend yours. Here's the third of our Weekend Reviews, from Matthew Cook, collector of beautiful vintage artefacts and baker of amazing cakes.
What do you do for work?
I'm currently having a "gap year" from my career, I work on the service counters at Waitrose.
What is your passion outside work?
Only one?? My cat, Thomas, takes up a lot of time. I also love cooking - or more correctly, I love baking. I love being outdoors, in the sun, on my bike, in the garden or at an antiques fair. I love blue and white, and ceramics, and paper and linens... oh, and string and tags!
What is your mantra for collecting items, what do you specifically look for in an object for it to be added to your collection?
I was trained largely by the Conrans, so "Plain, Simple and Useful" plus a touch of William Morris - "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." I sometimes fail on both counts but I do prefer the simpler, less ornate and things with purpose.
When is your weekend?
I am usually off work Thursday and Friday, but often work short days in the week too. This allows me to get the boring stuff, such as ironing and food shopping, out of the way on those days so my "weekend" can be just for fun.
How did you spend last weekend?
I spent last weekend waking up the garden. Some new herbs, rosemary, thyme, marjoram and sage plus old terracotta pots rescued from my parents compost heap. Then there was trellis to fix ready for sweet peas and the flagstones to scrub. After all that I needed something warm and comforting for supper, so I made cauliflower cheese with mashed potatoes. I always keep some biscuits and a cake on the go for treats at work. Last week it was a moist almond loaf cake with dried cherries soaked in brandy plus a batch of really crumbly hazelnut cookies. I do the shopping for my parents and look after their house and garden too, so there was plenty of pruning and two large lawns to mow, very badly! The first proper cut of the year, next time I'll have to be more careful and keep the lines straight.
How Typical was it for you?
I do some of those things most weekends, but it depends on the weather, sometimes it's just baking and a DVD after doing the routine essentials of life.
What are you currently reading?
I have a very short attention span, so trying to read anything too taxing takes forever! I've enjoyed a few John Harvey novels, based locally and methodical Police procedural. I'm on the final one now. I like to dip into Nigel Slater too, "The Kitchen Diaries" I have all three. Sometimes he makes me feel guilty for not being seasonal enough but theres usually a good idea or two in there too!
Are you sweet or savoury?
Sweet. As long as cheese can be counted as sweet?!
Do you have a signature recipe?
The almond cake is a trusted favourite. It's based on an almond tart from Donna Hay, but I hate making pastry, so I just make it without. It always comes out delicious no matter what you add.
What's in your fridge?
Organic unsalted butter, always, usually Rachel's Dairy. Organic apple juice for my muesli, a cauliflower from the nice ladies on Newark Market (they grow them themselves, they are always 60p and sometimes they are so large that one lasts me all week!) Olives, Kaltback cheese and a bottle of fino sherry. A little jar of rose harissa, oranges and lemons, various types of goats cheese and a bottle of champagne - well, you've got to be prepared!
Tell us about your ideal Sunday menu...
Breakfast: Little fluffy pancakes with tiny blueberries and ricotta, drizzled with runny honey, a big pot of rich, but not bitter coffee. This would be with Thomas the cat, I don't do chat in the mornings!
Lunch: Sourdough bread with figs and goats cheese, toasted under the grill. Honey, walnuts, plenty of salt and pepper and some olive oil, with slices of avocado and a tasty tomato on the side, followed by a coffee ice cream lolly - all in the sun of course. My ex-employer and very good friend Priscilla Carluccio would be an ideal guest. She could be trusted to bring a bottle of wine and, like me, she relishes a snooze in the sun after lunch. We'd enjoy the food and not have to make too much polite conversation.
Dinner: Mushroom risotto with a watercress salad and some crispy slices of ciabatta, a glass or two of spicy red wine and a little cup of chocolate mousse with fresh raspberries. Nigel Slater would be an interesting dinner guest, lots of stories to tell i'm sure. Or one of my cheffy friends from London. Or perhaps one person from each of my previous places of work, you'd need a very large table though!