My enthusiasm for cooking largely depends on what I need to make and when. Need a cake, I’ll make you one any time. Need something interesting for supper when I’m only 10 minutes through the door from work and I’ve forgotten to defrost whatever it was I was planning on us having, housewifely enterprise dribbles out the door while I dial up the takeaway.
Part of the problem is that, as with many people, the easiest things to cook are the recipes in my brain, and there’s a limited amount of space in the recipe section. From all of this (and the side effect of having spag bol for the 14th week running) I came up with The Challenge.
I’m not going to do it every week, and I fully reserve my right to deviate from it if there’s something in the fridge that needs using up, but basically I’m going back to my cookbooks:
- Each week all or most of our meals have to come from one cookbook on the shelf.
- Not the cake books (sadly, but probably for the best).
- Minor deviations from the recipes are allowed.
- No more than two meals can be things we’ve tried before.
In the true spirit of the rules, our first week has started with a bit of a cheat. I don’t own this cookbook. Yet.
The River Cottage Family Cookbook. I’ve got to take it back to the library soon because I’ve had my three renewals but I may very well check it in and straight out again. So what have we been eating:
Spaghetti Carbonara – oh was this good and oh was this fast – we had some freshly made pasta in the fridge so the whole meal took about 10 minutes to make – a perfect work day supper, especially followed by
Strawberry Fool – the strawbs on top were from the strawberry patch in the garden but it hasn’t cropped heavily enough to make a whole pudding. We left out the icing sugar so that Kitty could have some and the strawberries were sweet enough that we didn’t miss it.
Salmon Fishcakes – another good supper staple and nice to find a recipe without onions. I made it as the recipe but left out the salt to be baby-friendly and whilst it was nice, I think we would spice it up a little (our preference for tangy food having risen every year we’ve lived in the Balti Belt). Maybe a little chopped chili, or possibly even some paprika would do the trick.
Lamb ‘Kebabs’ – it was raining so we roasted rather than BBQ, but they were delicious. I added some extra veg to the mix; yellow pepper was great, green pepper was too bitter which was a bit of a shame but tucked into pittas they went down a treat and a nice change from using pasta, rice or potatoes as the evening carb.
Sag Aloo – this was a Kitty and Mummy lunch and it was really good. Kitty loved picking up the little potato cubes, and I enjoyed having homegrown spinach – even if a certain someone did seem to be hiding hers under her bottom.
Kedgeree – when I was little, every Easter we had a Service of Light at church, starting packed together in the dark at the back of church and going out to meet the rising sun. After the service, we all had a bring and share breakfast (and a chocolate egg hunt in the churchyard) and Mrs Nancy always brought her amazingly delicious muesli and kedgeree. It was good. This was good too, not quite up to my rose-tinted standard, possibly because I turned out not to have any curry powder and subbed crushed cumin seeds instead, but comforting and filling in a good way.
Chocolate Brownies and Shortbread. Notice the lack of pictures. This is all you need to know. Draw your own conclusions on their merit.
All in all, Week One of the Great Culinary Experiment has gone well. This week we’re eating up the freezer and the veg patch but next week we’ll be working our way through the Ginger Pig Meat Book – can’t wait.