As most of you know, I love to cook.
I got my love of cooking from my Mum who always had freshly cooked products for us growing up. I was jealous of friends who had bought cakes and plastic white bread, because my Mum always made ours. It wasn’t until I grew up that I realised that we had things that were far less bad for us than the additive filled products – I grew up before we knew a lot of additives were not good for us! I don’t think I tasted a ready meal until I left home at 20! My Mum was what I can only describe as a good home cook. We never had anything fancy, but we ate well.
I studied catering at college, and learned posh stuff. Give me a paring knife and I could probably still turn a potato, but that doesn’t really fill the need for everyday life.
Playing about in the kitchen is still one of my passions. It is my domain. The rest of the house belongs to the family, but the kitchen is my room. Others can use the room, as long as they put things back in the right place, and keep the work surfaces clean. However, if I am in there, then you don’t start getting in my way! The boys love to help, which can often be a double-edged sword. It’s great they are learning life skills, but when you are wanting potatoes peeled and in the pot quickly it can get a little frustrating.
Being a home cook, means that I know what goes into my families tummy. It means I can control a lot of the strange things they might otherwise eat. Now I’m not saying I am not going to let my family eat things that come from the shops, but if I have the time and the ability, then it has to be better for me to create a dish with fresh natural ingredients. There is so much talk about autism and diet that it is a mine field so I just try for fresh and tasty!
We have a local farm that I order our eggs and veg from –http://www.fernieflattfarm.co.uk/ . They might be that little bit more expensive than the supermarket, but the veg is so fresh it tastes as if you have just pulled it in the garden. The eggs are what has me ordering from them though as they are fabulous. The yolks are so yellow, and so huge! When you have a boiled egg with one of these, then you’ve had a meal!!!
Living in what was a semi rural town – the fields are now being eroded, there is a wealth of fresh meat available. Our town houses the local abattoir and meat processing factory, and so the meat at their shop couldn’t be much fresher!
So there is no shortage of good food, in the area.
The problem we have is that M in particular is rather restricted with foods he will try. Anything new has to be sold to him as an idea before being turned into something edible. I therefore have to keep main course experimentation to a minimum. I therefore have to play about with cakes and biscuits and the like.
Baking them myself, means I can play with the recipes to find things that can be done in a slightly less unhealthy way. If you have looked at any of my previous recipes, you know I like to substitute sugar for sweetener, and butter for low-fat alternatives. It means those of us who aren’t skinny bints, can still enjoy something naughty without too much guilt!
I love reading recipe books, and looking at websites to find new idea, which I read with an eye to tweaking to our benefit. I do however have the one recipe book that I go back to whenever I am stuck for ideas, and that is The Art of Home Cooking which is a book from Stork – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cooking-Stork-Margarine-Cookery-Service/dp/B0012GSJH2. It is a book that was first published in the 1950’s, and I remember it was one my Mum often referred to. My version from 1994, is well-thumbed and well stained with the use it has had over the years. As the title suggests, it is plain home cooking. Like most people, I look at the recipes from whichever celebrity chef is in fashion at the moment, and think something looks good, but I couldn’t be bothered with all of the faffing, and then resort to my favourite book for more sensible ideas. The recipes are easy to follow, and a lot of the baking does the all in one method, so very limited messing about involved!
I have a file I was given a few years back that I store my favourite recipes. It has loads of things written in it, but a recipe only makes it into there, once I have made it and know that it works, so I can refer to it at a much easier time. I do however have a box file filled with things I have cut out of magazine, or printed from the internet, that I like the look of. I think I need to make it a new year resolution to work my way through them, either tossing them out or making them and then throwing them out or transferring them to my file! The problem is for every piece of paper I take out of the box, I seem to put in half a dozen new ones! One day I will get around to it!
I think the important thing with cooking is to do things you love, experiment a little and enjoy the results.