Monday, February 26, 2007

Confessions of a discontented Cook

It has to be said, cooking everyday is only worth doing when you enjoy it. When I began this Challenge on Jan. 1st this was the time I was enjoying it, but over the weeks have had to admit it has not been as much as a challenge as I hoped because I had, and still have, plenty of food left in store. I would much prefer to have something to work with on the lines of two lettuce leaves, six potatoes, and one head of celery (plus five other ingredients of my choice). The most difficult part has been the boredom, seemingly making much the same meals each week, admittedly with as many variations as my stock of food would allow However, I am planning to go out with a bang, so look forward to more delicious recipes to get me through this last two weeks.

Last night's supper was an easy-peasy couldn't-be-quicker one of Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese. I cooked broccoli and cauliflower (the broccoli was frozen, the cauli was the last from the fridge and hasn't THAT lasted a long time?), which took all of five minutes to cook, meanwhile I was grating a good lump of Red Leicester and a smaller lump of Cheddar cheese, Then taking a small tub of creme fraiche, stirred in a very little milk to slacken it and a big handful of the cheese. Drained the vegetables, put a layer in the bottom of a dish, covered it with some cheese, topped with remaining vegetables, topped that with the 'cheese sauce', finally sprinkled over the last of the cheese. Popped it under the grill and within 15 minutes from the start it was served. Beloved chose banana and cream for pud.

This 'boring cooking' has recently brought to mind the meals made pre-war. Good plain food and always the same meal on the same day of the week, with little variation apart from eating only seasonal fruits and vegetables - they at least did give something to look forward to. When rationing came along (and that is almost a challenge worth trying on its own) there was such a need to improvise with the tiny amount of food (try making something from one egg per person per fortnight, or one ounce of cheese per week) that anyone who really achieved something found great enjoyment through this and so after the end of rationing (1952) this newly discovered interest kept going.

I did ask my husband what was his favourite food. Fillet steak was his first choice, then came egg, sausage, beans and chips. He will have to wait for his first choice. Incidentally, all lean meat contains the same amount of protein, so why spend a fortune on prime cuts when the cheapest meat- cooked in a casserole - is so comforting - and so cheap? Having said that I do buy him fillet occasionally, but never eat it myself.

An indugency for me is to eat a meal I haven't cooked myself. Fish and Chips, Chinese Takeaway. I tend to dig my toes in at eating out (unless someone else is paying) because I know I could make it myself at home for at least one fifth of the price. There is one local Indian restaurant we go to on high-days and holidays (mainly because the staff are always so pleased to see us and give us a free liqueur at the end of a very reasonably priced meal), and it has to be said that I have eaten at only one local restaurant where the food was of such a high standard that it surpassed anything I could hope to make, and that closed down due to being such a small place and having spent so much money in refurbishment, they were never make enough profit to cover their loan repayments. Which, to my mind says a lot. Don't worry about the decor mate, just serve good food and no-one will complain.

Yesterday I re-discovered some cookbooks that had such unusual methods of preparing foods that I am dying to try them out. Some can be done within the Challenge, so that will give me much-needed pleasure trying some out today. Will report back tomorrow on any that actually work. I really need to be convinced that they do.
This may leave me with some ruined food that has gone wrong, but again, I can gain pleasure from finding other ways to make them edible. Seems every cloud does have a silver lining.