Friends of mine regularly swap recipes... What sort of children did they rear who would eat Moroccan lamb? asks Tric Kearney.
AT about five o’clock every day, at least one member of my family asks, “What’s for dinner?” Unfortunately, I’ve usually been asking myself the very same question.
As they leave the kitchen with my promise of ‘a surprise’ ringing in their ears, I open the cupboard and search for inspiration.
You may already have guessed, I am no domestic goddess and while I’ve a healthy interest in food, especially eating it, I have very little in cooking it.
Flicking through vast numbers of newspaper supplements laden with recipe ideas, I feel a bit of a freak.
Friends of mine regularly swap recipes and speak with great enthusiasm of newly discovered ones, as they did recently, for Moroccan lamb.
Where did they get this passion for cooking? And what sort of children did they rear who would eat Moroccan lamb?
If you were to visit the kitchens of these same friends, you would find a 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 picked up many moons ago and the third is an book by a certain chef which promised full meals in 30 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’.
What would Himself think when he’d arrive home to a three-course meal, every day? 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 a ‘tray baked chicken’ which looked quick and uncomplicated and who knew, 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 30 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.
As instructed, 14 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.
Perhaps, plated up, it would look more appetising?
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.
“Mmm... It’s…nice.“ he said, picking something out of his teeth.
I’d like to say that day was the beginning of a whole new chapter in my culinary 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 10 minutes later dinner is ready.
Although sometimes I like to shake it up a bit and buy a different brand.
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