Thursday, January 25 2007

Dear Mrs Danvers, Although there seem to be hundreds of cookery books published every year for every known cuisine, I can find nothing about what to do with leftovers. I know this is not a glamorous subject, and that the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver don’t even have to think about cold chicken and mince, but we do. Do you have any suggestions?

I do so agree, but perhaps any cook under 50 just throws out the leftovers or gives them to the dog (sometimes, even the dog misses out). Those who grew up with economical habits find this disregard for leftovers not only absurd but uneconomic (and, surely, not very Green). One cookery writer who does address the issue is Nigel Slater, but he tends only to use the good bits.

My best suggestion is to find a copy of Marika Hanbury-Tenison’s book, Left Over for Tomorrow, which was published by Penguin in 1971 for a derisory 50p (those were the days). You can now buy it secondhand via Amazon at a less agreeable £10. But it will still save you the money in no time, as well as suggesting all sorts of delicious dishes. Why Penguin doesn’t reissue this defeats me but I suppose it is irredeemably unglamorous. No good for name-dropping and celebrities. You can’t imagine Victoria Beckham cooking leftovers or, indeed, anything at all.

Coats of arms Dear Mrs Danvers, How do I go about getting a coat of arms?

You will need to ‘petition’ the Earl Marshall at London’s College of Arms (020?7248 2762), who will only grant arms if you can ‘demonstrate some input into society’, and if you are a subject of The Queen. Therefore, if you live in Surbiton or Sydney, Nassau or Nantwich, you are eligible except if you are Scottish or Canadian, in which case you should petition the Lord Lyon King of Arms in Edinburgh or the Chief Herald of Canada in Ottawa.

Once you have passed this mild vetting, you will be invited to call at the College of Arms to discuss the devices and colours to be used on your coat of arms. The final decision is made by the College, which insists that the arms are tasteful and conform to the rules of heraldry. The same goes for the motto, which can be in any language from Chinese to Hindi, although English, French and Latin are the most common.

When the arms are agreed, they will be drawn by an expert heraldic artist on calf skin, 18in by 24in, and given red seals, called skippets, by one of the Kings of Arms Garter, Clarenceux or Norroy. The total cost is £3,675, although it will be more if you have supporters (usually for peers) or something fancier.