It's been a bright sunny and bitterly cold day...so we had soup for lunch. And I've put the recipe on...and find it really difficult because I tend to cook more or less automatically...so for the benefit of Max I'm trying to work out whether she'll understand a 'knob of butter'...and it doesn't help that I rarely measure anything...'that looks about right' serves my purpose and when trying to explain to someone else I come seriously unstuck...
Then there are the gadgets I take for granted...like a blender for instance. No need to thicken anything with a blender 'cos it does it all for you...mind you...my blender is related to the desk top...I'd be willingly to bet they're second cousins three times removed 'cos the blender has a mind of its own...sometimes it'll whizz round without a bother on it...produce a perfectly blended mixture that I'd be happy to show to a top chef...other times it grunts and groans and goes in a frantic spurt and then leaves a feckin great lump of some totally inedible ingredient that I poke hopefully and pray doesn't jump up and bite me.
Then there are the ingredients...I'll read a recipe and think that sounds nice and it'll require an item I've never heard of before and is probably horribly expensive to boot...so I wonder if there's a substitute, and have a vague look at my shelves, and decide there isn't actually, so go back to an old and trusted recipe that we've eaten a million times before.
And in our case it all comes down to our limited budget. If I could shop in posh shops I dare say I could produce posh suppers...but when I consider a huge bag of lentils at the special price of 8€ a real bargain...well...it limits you a bit.
Then there is the Himself versus Herself...Himself likes proper meat...big hunks of dead cow that's still bleeding...pork chops that squeak complainingly and lamb that bleats. I'll cook it...as long as it's smothered in flour or breadcrumbs and is well seasoned with garlic so I can't smell the flesh cooking...but I like cheese and veggies and nuts...nice food that hasn't eaten half the planet and wrecked the rain forest in the process. I like food that has a stamp on it...to say the producers are properly paid and so on...don't always believe it of course.
So Himself will be munching factory produced chicken with a jar of own label curry sauce while in a separate saucepan my supper will be a freshly made thick veggie soup with herby dumplings and a baked potato...with garlic bread.
He won't eat the same supper the following night...if I cook up a storm with seriously cheap minced beef and say it'll be enough for a couple of days...he looks at me askance. I'll eat variations of my veggie soup for a week...if I open a tin of kidney beans and put a dollop of chilli in and call it chilli con carne and he's had savoury mince the previous day...he gets all over sad and wishes we still had puddings.
Mother used to make the same suppers week after week...it was always Shepherd's Pie on Monday...though I suppose it ought to have been called Cottage Pie 'cos it was beef...then Tuesday was rissoles with the tail end of the joint. Wednesday was Pork chops and apple sauce...Thursdays it'd be Corned Beef Hash and Friday was always fish...Saturday was fish cakes and sauté potatoes which brought us back to Sunday and the roast beef.
There was something to be said for how predictable meals were I suppose...we always knew what day of the week it was.
It must have been so easy to be an Irish cottager...rabbit stew with whatever vegetables they'd grown...potatoes served plain boiled in their skins...an ancient chicken long past it's best, with a boiled cabbage. Plenty of freshly cooked soda bread...and plenty of buttermilk. Potato and Onion soup...and potatoes in their jackets for lunch and supper when there was nothing else.
There was salmon of course...especially in areas such as ours...and trout and pike for the taking. But those foods had to be cooked quietly with one ear out for the landlords bailiff...
No recipes or fancy books to consult...probably not much in the way of measuring out and weighing the ingredients either...
I quite like cooking actually...I like making something other people enjoy eating...when T and Reuben were here not long ago I made a sausage and bean casserole...one of the Hairy Bikers recipes...and they tucked in with relish and praised the supper as being seriously good...and I like that feedback.
But thinking of something different each night of the week has me bored to tears and I rather think Mother had it right when she dished up the same food week after week...