Sunday, 10 February 2013

Get your cook on....

'For the love of god, can't you just help me? Can't you see I'm struggling?'
'Give me one suggestion. Just one. You are useless.'
'Why do I have to do it?'
'I hate this. More than anything.'
'How about I wipe Sproglette's arse after every nappy fill this week if you would just......

It drives me insane. To save money in these lean times, and because I don't want to have to think about what to have for dinner when I stagger in from work with two tired fractious kids every evening, I sit on a Saturday morning - tea in hand - trying to work out what to eat at every meal for the next 7 days. Occasionally I'll throw out a 'how about sausages and mash on Sunday evening?' and Husband, even though he will sink a bottle of red and about 30 Oreos on that said Sunday, maybe even half a bag of crisps too - will reply 'yeah... I won't eat the mash. I don't do carbs after 6pm.' (Yes, he sounds like a middle aged housewife).

Sproglet will then chip in 'I hate mash.'

How can a child of mine - of Irish descent, HATE mash? Mash is the god of comfort foods - especially made with 50% butter and cream.  So I scratch the sausage and mash idea and write 'beans on toast' instead. Then I growl a bit and move on to the next day. Lunch at work?? What to have? To save me eating canteen stodge or the overpriced dried out paninis that you wait six years for in the bar/cafe on site?

Monday - the day after the gluttonous weekend - will have to be diet day. Day of 500 calories and a total lack of humour. Day of staring at a colleague's arm as if it is a breast of chicken. Day of hating the world. Day of dreaming about all you are going to eat the next day - therefore negating all you have gone through during Monday's day of hell.

Friday is always easy food day - something to bung in the oven (presently broken oven that wails like a demented dragon) to save me even thinking about cooking. Genuinely though, I like to cook. If you held a gun to my head, I would admit that yes, Husband is the better cook. According to him I burn everything or cook the very life out of it. (Well, if you had ever had a severe case of campylobacter you'd cook the feckin' life out a chicken too). He meanwhile spends a whole day boiling bones and reducing stuff to produce 4 tiny ice cube sized demi-glace stock. A WHOLE DAY. For 4 ICE CUBES. Seriously. After a whole day's cookin' I would expect a Viking banquet. He also manages to use every cooking utensil in the house - and when we lived in the flat I did once spend a Sunday scraping duck fat off the ceiling....

Working full time has culled my cooking pleasure. I sometimes get the head staggers at the weekend and do a kick ass roast, or use Gordon Ramsey's shepherd's pie recipe (there is that mash again - with Parmesan - yum!). Most of the time I like to do Thai food - lots of poaching of salmon in coconut milk and coriander on everything. The best place to find quick recipes is here. Olive magazine rocks - especially as it does this 30 minute meals section and also 7 meals for £30. My kitchen is coming down with tatty old magazines, with sticky pages and scribbled on notes; I can easily spend half an hour trawling through them trying to find 'that one recipe for chickpea burgers' that I made two years ago - before giving up and looking on line. Yet I refuse to throw a single one out - needing them for 'inspiration.'

I also read Olive for suggestions for 'chef's helpers' as I like to call them. You know, chutneys to make a coronation chicken dish sing, or a cheeky sauce that livens up a dull limp chicken breast without having to resort to some gawdawful ragu. (Ragu - the student sauce that should never be eaten post graduation - it just reminds me of the smell of damp clothes drying on radiators and tuna bakes). If like me, you like a little chilli to add some zing to your dishes - then check out these recipes. The thing I like best about Trees Can't Dance (apart from their groovy name) is that they have a little helper for everything - be it a marinade for your BBQ meats, a chilli jam for your burger or a paste to add some flavour to a dish. You can't go wrong with the chilli umami paste - and then claim to all your dinner party guests that you just rustled it all up with 'a few fresh herbs.'

In short - I like to cheat. What is wrong with a chipotle paste, or a Thai red curry one? Who has time to pummel and chop and grate and crush to make them?? I barely have time to boil rice, let alone use lemongrass. Plus these helpers, they still let me feel like I am cooking... I am still cooking the fish and the meat and I'm adding coriander on top and I'm pouring coconut milk into the rice and I'm reducing the sauce. So technically I am still COOKING. I am not just shoving a pizza in the oven. Except on a Friday when I absolutely am just shoving a pizza in the oven.

So back to the sodding list. Who wants steak baguettes on Saturday?
Husband: 'And why not lobster for dinner, do you think we're made of money?'
Sproglet: 'I don't like chewy meat.'
Husband: 'it's only chewy when Mummy cooks it.'



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