Don Your Way column: How TV chef Jamie Oliver gave my dish of the day his seal of approval
I've always enjoyed cooking and mucking around in the kitchen.
There's nothing I like better than burying my nose in a cookery book, finding a dish I like the sound of and then hurtling off to the supermarket to stock up on the sometimes weird and wonderful ingredients needed for my creation.
Shelves groan under the weight of half-used jars of herbs and spices and draws are stuffed full of things like garlic presses, pasta serving spoons, knives and pans of varying shapes and sizes.
Elsewhere around the house, bookcases are stuffed with tomes by celebrity chefs - Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Nigella, Delia, the Hairy Bikers, you name if, if they've been filmed on telly doing something magical in a kitchen, I'll have helped line their pockets by purchasing one of their glossy hardback books.
Weekends, especially in winter, are when I really like to try my hand at new dishes.
Some go down well and have become family favourites, some, unfortunately, have been made never to darken doors again, their unusual tastes and textures often being politely declined as "not really my thing."
Recently, I purchased Jamie Oliver's latest book (geek alert, I have every single one of his other books in my collection).
No doubt seizing on the vegan and veggie zeitgeist we're living through right now, the weighty journal is simply titled Veg, and as its name suggests, is a collection of meat free dishes.
As a meat-eater, I must admit, I was a little out of my comfort zone. Would these dishes devoid of chicken, lamb and beef cut the mustard?
Would I be left feeling something was missing?
The answer, and one which surprised me, was a resounding no.
I've only had time to attempt a handful of Oliver's creations from the new edition and so far and I've not been disappointed.
I actually tweeted the great man a picture of my version of one of his recipes (super comforting gumbo if you must know) alongside a shot from the book - and he 'liked' it.
So even if it might not have tasted like Mr O would be used to, it certainly looked like it was supposed to. Either that or he was simply taking pity on me.
But the fact that my amateur Sunday afternoon musings in the kitchen had won his seal of approval was enough in itself.
And while I'd never be brave enough to subject my cookery to members of the public as a cook or chef (it has been suggested on occasion but sorry, you'll have to put up with me as a journalist for a bit longer) seeing happy faces around the dinner table is all a dad needs.
Right, now where did I put that jar of ground cloves?