pestle and mortar [cropped]

Cooking: the story so far

When I was little, I would help my mam in the kitchen. I started off by mixing things, then taking over the responsibility for various things. I remember making Yorkshire puddings for Sunday dinner, chocolate cake for birthdays, and at Christmas, I’d whip up batches of sausage rolls, jam tarts and mince pies. One year, my mam assumed I was making the Christmas cake, although I’d never made the whole thing before. She just left me to get on with it. It didn’t turn out bad.

At university, I remember one of my housemates attempting to cook Sunday dinner for a girl he wanted to impress. He asked if anyone knew how to make Yorkshire puddings. He laughed at me when I said to get the fat smoking hot in the oven. He went out and bought Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshire puddings — the ones that are frozen raw mix in a disposable bun tin. He looked up from the instructions at me, and said, “You were right.” All those years of making Yorkshire puddings at home weren’t for naught.

I have visions now of becoming a homely cook: baking, making jams and preserves, making good, wholesome food. I’m afraid I’d get terribly fat if I did that.

brown Chinese soupy stuff
brown Chinese soupy stuff
I’ve had varying degrees of success with experimental food. One noticeable disaster was something I bought from an Asian supermarket. It was packet of dried ingredients to make soup. I don’t know what the ingredients were: they were listed in what looked like Chinese. Thankfully, there were instructions in English on the packet; I followed them, and ended up with a big pan of brown liquid with chicken and mysterious rehydrated dehydrated things in it. It didn’t look very nice, it didn’t smell very nice and it didn’t taste very nice.

Not all my Asian cookery turns out bad. I like the challenge of making vegan food for a friend. I don’t want to make too many dishes that use fake versions of omnivorous food, like “cheese” and “egg”. I’d much rather make something that is supposed to be vegan or that can easily be veganised by using vegetables instead of animal products. Much Asian food is ideal. One memorable dish I made was a Japanese-style soup with vegetables and mushrooms and homemade yuba. I topped the vegan one with griddled marinated aubergine (her favourite vegetable) and everyone else’s with griddled marinated tuna steaks. This soup went down very well indeed.

The biggest challenge I have with cooking is organisation. This includes timing and tidying up. I’m sure Colin would love it if I mastered this enigmatic art, so he can eat a hot meal all at once and without having to tidy up afterwards.

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