Wednesday, 22 September 2010
The Wrong Fridge
I MUST have the wrong fridge, the wrong food – or the wrong family.
Wondering why? Because, sadly, I fail to meet the standards set out in those wonderful cookery books that tell you how to feed a family of four for a week with a small chicken, some leftover vegetables and fresh herbs from the garden.
The cooks who write these volumes serve up beautifully prepared food to their loving family and friends, who sit around the table together, and eat what is put in front of them.
My own family’s dietary likes and dislikes make it difficult, if not impossible, to create a meal that everyone will eat.
The Man of the House is not a vegetable enthusiast. He eats potatoes and peas, but that’s about it. He won’t entertain the idea of eating a meal that contains no meat, and won’t touch anything with cooked onion in it – although he will happily chomp his way through a jar of pickled onions or a tub of coleslaw.
I, on the other hand don’t eat meat, fish, or meat and fish products. And I don’t like meat substitutes – if I choose not to eat meat, why would I want to consume something masquerading as meat?
The daughters, bless them eat most things and are quite happy to have meat or vegetarian dishes on a plate (or even to pile it high with both).
But they have their likes and dislikes, which don’t necessarily coincide with each other, or with the Man of the House, or me. I frequently find myself cooking four or five different types of vegetable to ensure everyone can eat what they like.
If they are dieting, I cannot dish up anything that is too fatty, too starchy, too sugary, too high in carbohydrates or too high on calories and, surprisingly, an awful lot of food falls into one of these categories.
Even worse, no two people ever seem to want to eat at the same time. They are either busy, out, working, relaxing – or just not hungry.
And if I try cooking up batches of food to last more than one meal they turn their noses up at ‘left-overs’.
In fact ‘left-overs’ may be my biggest failure.
Nigel Slater can conjure up delicious suppers from things like a chunky rind of Parmesan cheese, and Nigella Lawson whips up exotic bread and butter puddings with stale croissants and real custard.
My own fridge, alas, contains no such delicacies. The uneaten cheese mouldering away in a corner is in no fit state to be used, the limp lettuce leaves are fit only for the bin, and even the cat can’t be tempted to try the elderly bits of forgotten meat.
One of these days I will consider writing my own cook book, aimed at people like me, with recipes for things like pea risotto (without the peas), or half and half pasta bake (pasta and veg on one side, pasta and mince on the other).
I could include a special section on ways to serve limp lettuce, and a chapter on ‘instant’ food that can be dished up at a moment’s notice.
Meanwhile I shall read those glossy publications and dream….