Here you go my article from last weeks Feelgood in the Irish Examiner.
It could be titled ‘Dinnertime, the bane of my life.’
At about five o clock every day, at least one member of my family asks, “What’s for dinner?” Unfortunately, I have usually been asking myself the very same question. As they leave the room with my promise of ‘a surprise’ ringing in their ears, I open the cupboard and search for inspiration.
You may have already guessed, I am no domestic goddess and while I have a healthy interest in food, especially eating it, I have very little in cooking it.
As I look at the vast number of newspaper supplements laden with recipe ideas, I feel a bit of a freak. I have friends who regularly swap recipes and speak with great enthusiasm of a new one for Moroccan lamb. Where did they get this passion for cooking? And what sort of children did they rear who would eat Moroccan lamb?
These same friends have in their kitchens a full shelf displaying nothing but books on cooking which they actually use! Don’t get me wrong I am not without recipe books, I have three in total. One was a charity buy for our local school, another a children’s cookbook got at a six year olds party many moons ago and the third is an infamous book by a certain chef, which promised full meals in thirty minutes.
Yes, years ago I saw that book and thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I couldn’t wait to buy it. Leaving the shop I may have waved it about a little, while smiling at fellow shoppers, hoping they would see it and think ‘There goes a cook’. I imagined the face of Himself when he’d arrive home to a three course meal. Such happy thoughts, until I opened it.
“No there’s garlic in that.”
“Paprika! I doubt they’d like that.”
“Basil? What does that even taste like?”
“Honey. Yuck I hate honey.”
Before I knew it I’d finished the book without a single idea for dinner. Returning to the beautiful photos I got a lot less picky and decided on ‘tray baked chicken’. It looked quick and uncomplicated and who knows they might even eat it?
Well let me tell you looks can be deceiving. This was not the easy recipe I’d thought it would be and despite my lightening preparation speed, double the promised thirty minutes had passed before my tray bake was even ready to be cooked and by then my kitchen looked a lot like it had been bombed in the blitz.
Exactly fourteen minutes later, the kitchen not looking much better, I took my creation out from under the grill and compared it to the photo…maybe I’d got the wrong photo? It looked a lot more like a goulash than a tray bake. Maybe when I’d plated it up it would look more appetizing?
Unfortunately I am as talented at food presentation as I am at preparation, but never mind the proof is in the taste. I held my breath waiting as Himself did an extraordinary amount of chewing.
I’d like to say that day was the beginning of a whole new chapter in my life, but I’d be lying. My recipe books are still only three in number and continue to live in a rarely used drawer somewhere in the kitchen.
However I’ll let you in on a secret. I have discovered recipes which are quicker and simpler than those in fancy cookbooks. Daily, as my children wonder ‘What’s for dinner?‘ I make my way to the cupboard, spend a moment picking out a sauce, follow the ‘recipe’ on the jar or packet to the letter and all of ten minutes later dinner is ready.
Although sometimes I like to shake it up a bit and buy a different brand.
London Irish Graduate Network
photo credit: sling@flickr What’s Cookin’ via photopin (license)
photo credit: Thorbard 0929 via photopin (license)
photo credit: alsis35 (now at ipernity) The Heinz Salad Book, c1935 via photopin (license)