Sunday, 7 November 2010

Kitchen Challenges

It usually transpires that when I cook, I'm cooking for between two and five people. Most nights it's for three. Cooking for other people is lovely. There's nothing better than spending a couple of hours preparing a meal only to hear cries of "Mmmmmmm. Uhhhhh. That's the kind of food I'd marry you for." Well, unless you're cooking for your immediate family. That's just creepy. *shudder*. But you know what I'm getting at.

The down side to cooking for other people is that the food has to be tailored to their tastes. I often find I have to eliminate or substitute vital ingredients to please other people, or make a low fat version with less butter and cream. It's wholly unkind to cook something with ingredients you know someone hates just because you feel like including them, although if you ask me to include less butter, I might growl at you. We've all got foods we love and loathe. Put perfectly slow-roasted lamb in front of me and I'll marry you; assuming you're not a relative. How did we get back there again? Put a mushroom dish on my lap and I'll likely puke on it. Even thinking about that earthy, bleachy stench they give off while cooking makes my gag reflex tremble. Bleurgh!

These are the only mushrooms I could cope with looking at without contorting my face. 

This week I'm cooking for one. Just me.  Nobody else. So I'm setting myself two challenges. The first is that I'm going to try and cook five evening meals I've never cooked before. I'm not talking about sourcing exotic spices or ordering some rare, expensive fish from the depths of the Indian ocean. It's all about plumping up the repertoire and breaking that cycle of cooking the same tried and tested meals because you're just too knackered to be experimental after a long, tedious day at the office.  I currently have no idea what these evening meals will involve. I've stocked the fridge and the kitchen cupboards with delicious things and will see how the week unfolds.  What I do know is that I won't be opening any tins of baked beans or soup. 

The second challenge is a quest for tastier lunches. In the days where I spent my lunch break running around town buying pointless trinkets, I would quite happily nip into Starbucks or M&S to buy fancy pasta salads and paninis. These days my lunch-hour is spent sat at my desk. Not ideal, but currently necessary. I've spent several months taking various combinations of lacklustre sandwiches to work with me. Cheese and Pickle, Ham and Tomato, Tuna & Cucumber, Chicken and zzzzzzzzzzzz. Exactly! It's gotten to the point where I feel like I'm being fancy if I chuck a bit of rocket in there, and that's just not me.

Sandwich at deskThat's not me either. In fact, if you ever see me dressed that formally, I'm probably up in court form heinous misdemeanour, so wish me luck.

Inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Every Day, where he spent a whole episode lambasting the nation for being such dinner bores, I'm going to have a whole week sandwich free. This will require less procrastination and more organisation, neither of which come naturally, but I'll give it a go. 

I'll report back on which of the ten wannabe meals made it into my illustrious cooking arsenal next weekend. Ooh I feel so powerful.  This must be what it's like to be Simon Cowell.

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