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24 September 2014

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Help for Lancashire's Aga addicts
Barbara Harrison
Barbara really loves her Aga
Barbara Harrison has had an Aga for almost 40 years and loves cooking on it. She's been to lots of friends' houses over the years and noticed that they weren't using their Agas correctly. She wanted to pass on some of her experience so she invited people into her kitchen to have some fun and learn to cook the way she does.
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An Aga is a range cooker made of cast iron which is designed to store heat. They can run on a variety of fuels. They aren't cheap though, at £5000 for a basic two oven model.

Listen to Alison Brown's documentary, Aga Addicts, aired on BBC Radio Lancashire

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Barbara says, "My Aga is my life, without my Aga I would be nothing, it's my right arm! This is my third Aga, which arrived on 1 November 1990. It was a special present for Christmas because without it my husband had a choice - he either had to buy me a new Aga or I was going down the road!"

Barbara runs her cooking courses at 7.30pm on a Monday evening in her home in Waddington in the Ribble Valley. She's been overwhelmed by how popular they are. It seems getting to grips with a different approach to cooking isn't much fun on your own.

The keenest students are people who have inherited Agas when they've moved into a new house.
Anne has had a love hate relationship with her Aga ever since she moved, "Sometimes I just wanted to rip it out!" She remembers thinking wistfully about other types of cookers whilst she struggled with the new addition to her kitchen, "Things that you can just turn on and set buttons and it comes on when you're out at work." But she says she's now settled with her new style of cooker, "Now I'm in the Aga way!"

Despite being a traditional style of cooker, Agas are keeping up with the latest trends and you can now get them in a wide range of contemporary colours, including pink. But whichever one you buy these days, there's one thing that's guaranteed, it will come complete with a complimentary cookbook written by the doyenne of Aga cookers, Mary Berry. It's not just the cooking style that Mary loves, "It's always warm, it's always welcoming. You come in early in the morning having perhaps walked the dogs and you're wet and you can throw your clothes on the Aga. I even open the door of the top oven and stick my bottom in it, getting it gorgeously warm!"

Barbara and her Aga
Barbara's kettle is always on

Whether you use it for drying washing on the front rail, reviving new-born lambs in the top oven, curing hangovers by snuggling up to the aga lids (you must use a cloth and be very careful if you attempt this!) everyone has got a different reason for loving their Aga, alongside the delights of cooking on it. But Barbara has the last word, "The Aga is the love of my life because it doesn't answer back!"

Have you got an Aga? How do you use it? Have you got a recipe you like to make that you'd like to share with other people? Just fill in the form below and we'll do the rest!

Beatrix Whitehall, University Park Maryland USA says:
"I got my Aga (4-oven claret) 2 months ago, and I'm in love! The food sits happily in the warming oven without drying out, roasted meats are crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside, and fresh-fruit crumbles are lovely and tasty. I've put stews in the simmering oven and come back at the end of the day to a slow-cooked meal. At any time of day or night, the Aga is a friendly, warm presence in my kitchen. I saved for years to get the Aga, and I'm glad I did. I'm not sure how I ever did without it. Britain's proudest export in my kitchen!"

Sallie Phelan, Garden City, NY, USA
"Am just about to purchase a 4 oven claret aga. Being a conventional cook, I am so nervous about the change over to the 80/20 rule. I hope I will be able to make all my favorite meals such as crispy fried chicken cutlets, sated veggies which I usually saute on very high heat, pasta, etc. I would love any words of encouragement! Thanks."

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