You too can cook like a grown-up!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

My friend Naomi has launched her cookery courses.

This is the woman who, over a lazy weekend in 2006, made me confident in the kitchen. I learnt store cupboard management, what feels like fifty ways with a can of tomatoes and even made salad. I can honestly say it’s turned me from someone who could boil pasta and stir in a sauce into someone who can make lots of things from scratch. Or tweak recipes to suit what’s in the fridge. I’ve had less than 10 ready-meals since 2006, saving my purse and my waistline.

If you’re in North West England, I recommend it highly.

Ale to the chef

Wednesday, 14 December 2005

There is one recipe which I tagged in moosifer_cooks which I am determined to try soon, before the proposed How To Cook Like a Grown Up course. It’s Courgettes in beer tempura. I mean, look how basic that is…surely within my capabilities? So I popped into my quality off-license tonight (as opposed to the pile-it-high offie directly across from my house) to get some Peroni Nastro Azzurro. I have done that twice before, but always ended up drinking the beer before getting around to making the tempura batter. As it was the last 4-pack of it he had in stock tonight, I must make the tempura, not just drink the beer. I look up the recipe.

Hmmm, how many does this serve? Do I need to divide the amount of flour by something to make the right amount for one? I can keep the batter overnight, right? I have vague memories of my mother making pancake batter and using it up the next day and that has eggs and stuff in it. I look at the amount of beer required, in order to see if it is one or two of the four bottles I have. I’m obviously hoping for one bottle’s worth because I want to have a beer whilst watching Lost later tonight. The recipe asks for 375ml. I look at the bottle. It’s 330ml. So now I have to reduce the amount of flour by, er, just over 10%. See? This is why I don’t like recipes and cookbooks and stuff! Unless…

…is it a cunning ploy by the cook so that they get to drink the already open second bottle of beer?

I began with this:
Cooking like a Grown Up 1 : prep
and ended with this:
Cooking like a Grown Up 3 : ta-da

moosifer might cook

Saturday, 3 December 2005

Remember my plan for moosifer_cooks, my handy online recipe book where you can actually search dynamically? So you can find all linked recipes with aubergines + ginger, for example. I was updating it with some rather yummy sounding pastes from last week’s Guardian along with some of the Indian recipes from this week’s magazine. As I entered the pastes article, I saw someone else had also linked to it, which has led me in turn to kake_food who is clearly using in the same way and which will lead me towards more recipes. I’ve already followed a link from there to yet another user’s recipes tag.

A friend who can and will cook has also offered to give me a weekend crash course, probably in the New Year, so that I develop the skills to at least stop seeing cooking as a chore. Asked to define what my aims would be, I think it comes down to an inability to plan and organise in the kitchen. When I look to see what I can make for a meal, I always see the disparate ingredients rather than the potential dish. So I need someone to alter my approach to the whole thing. This could be interesting.

more food

Saturday, 1 October 2005

A week on and I am still interested in building up the delicious cooking references. I actually made a decent leek and potato broth the other night, which I’ve never managed before. That’s how pitiful my cooking skills are: I am impressed I managed a broth. However, tagging today’s recipes I found the great bugbear of vegetarians and vegans: pointless use of meat stock. There’s a recipe for carrots & leeks in beer (third down the page) which, whilst it didn’t make me go “mmmmm” like the idea of beery courgette tempura, does have an immediate appeal. Cheap seasonal veg + beer = yum. Except it uses chicken stock. Why? Why, FFS?

Obviously, this is easy to modify to vegetarian stock, but why is chicken stock required to start with? I remember the taste of chicken and I can’t see why that would be required to go with the tastes of carrots, leeks and bitter. Surely the prime flavour is going to be from the bitter? Will the use of chicken stock impart extra proteiny goodness to the food? If thickening is required, why not use a little milk (for vegetarians) or cornflower (for vegans)?

Is it just standard lack-of-thinking by meat-eating recipe writers? Are they like one of my family who, when faced with my conversion to vegetarianism in the ’80s, offered me oxtail soup “with the meaty bits strained out”? Or like Spain, where I have long since learnt to specify “sin jamon” when ordering a cheese omelette because for some reason ham doesn’t count as a meat?

So, the upshot is that the moosifer cooks listings will now also include the odd note on how to make things vegetarian.


Monday, 26 September 2005

I was replying to a meme Annie had been lured into, over on the Going Underground blog. Amongst my replies, I included “learn to enjoy cooking”. Several others put “eat more healthily” etc. It’s something I’d been thinking about recently, as the Guardian have started a vegetarian cookery column this month. But I couldn’t work out how to then file the clippings because the old starters – mains – salads – desserts organisation of traditional cookbooks is deeply unhelpful. You dig into some poorly designed index, look up something you do have like ‘sweet potato’, find the one recipe which includes it and discover that you have none of the other ingredients. Or it has meat in it. I used to have one cookbook called ‘Vegetarian Cooking for One’ which I used to call ‘Vegetarian Cooking for Masochists’ as the recipes were so strict and bland.

Then there is the fact I have no clue how to start with some things. Until a week ago I used to put courgette in with the pasta to boil for a few minutes. Then I read that I could fry it with pepper and garlic etc and, damn, it tastes good.

So I was walking home and thinking about

a) dinner

b) how to organise the recipes I wanted to clip

Tagging, I thought, is what cookbooks need. A way of putting one recipe in half a dozen places in the cookbook. So if I have a couple of sweet potatoes, I can look for recipes which include them then narrow the list down by picking other ingredients etc. So, after a smudge of faffing, I have created…

moosifer cooks

I’ve used the tag bundles to organise them by different criteria. I’m a big fan of the shop local principle and use Stokes for my fruit and veg (that poor courgette had come all the way from Dorset), so there’s a bundle for seasons e.g. autumnal food. There’s regions, like morroccan, etc. so actual themed meals could be planned. If I were that organised.

And it did take me a while to spot the rather obvious “delicious” joke.

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