Monday, 20 June 2011

Adventures in Housewifery

I have recently decided to Do Something about my appalling lack of organisation and skill when it comes to cooking.

Previously, food in this household has worked gone like this.  I notice that the fridge and freezer are both empty. I panic and buy a vast amount of food on the internet.  Mr Tesco arrives with his van and delivers entire crates of tins of tomato, more bread than I have room for anywhere, several tonnes of meat that happened to be on offer and somebody else's sundried tomatoes squashed underneath the wine.  I remember to cook at about half past five every evening, when Abigail needs to eat at 6.  It's far too late to defrost the meat and I don't have all the ingredients for anything fancy, so I use what I have and invent something.  Sometimes, depending on what happens to be in the fridge, it's successful.

Mostly it's not.  Mostly, Abigail has some frozen delicacy like fish fingers (she throws it all on the floor anyway), The Rev insists on eating whatever his latest diet dictates (soup or salad) and complains if I cook anything containing calories, and I end up eating the vegetables that I have cooked for Abigail even though I know she won't go near them, then making myself some pasta late at night when everything's calmed down and nobody is throwing food at me.  In the meantime, the several tonnes of meat that Mr Tesco bought sits unused in the freezer, the bread goes mouldy and The Rev snacks on the sundried tomatoes that I didn't buy and leaves the empty packet in the cupboard because he's so adorably absent-minded.

The all-shiny New Plan goes like this: I sit down at the beginning of the week with a pile of recipe books and decide on one delicious, nutritious meal per day of the coming week, taking into account the time taken to cook each one and carefully aligning them with our calendar engagements.  I then make a shopping list including only the ingredients needed to create these perfect dishes, plus a reasonable amount of bread etc for lunches.  I then cooly refer to my list as evening approaches, swan gracefully into my kitchen where I have everything I need waiting for me, prepare a magnificent meal and serve it to my loving family, who eat it all together with great appreciation, applause and murmurs of surprise and delight.

Well, we're two days into the first week of the New Plan, and so far it hasn't been...quite like that.  On day 1 I had planned a recipe that I already know how to cook, you know, just to start off safely and easily.  It was pork and prunes in a cream sauce.  Only somehow, in my brilliantly organised weekly shop I somehow managed to forget the prunes, even though they were there in black and white on the shopping list.  This may have had something to do with the fact that while I was doing the shopping, a grumpy toddler was sitting in my trolley ripping pieces off my shopping list and sprinkling them on the floor.  So I improvised for day 1, and we had pork and caramelised apples.  I say we had it; Abigail wouldn't touch it and The Rev only wanted a little bit, so I had some of it, and the bin had most of it.  And now there's a pot of cream sitting in the fridge which is not in my List.

Today was day 2.  For day 2, I am ashamed to admit, I had turned to - oh, I can feel myself blushing - the student cookbook.  I was going for simple and fast.  Well, it's no wonder I never used this stupid book when I was a student; I only had one hob between an entire corridor of people, whereas this recipe finished by requiring an oven for 40 minutes!  Having not read the recipe properly, this occasioned a cry of dismay followed by several bad words as I attempted to get the preparation part done in minus time with a screeching toddler attached to one leg and The Rev, inexplicably and quite obliviously, crooning and playing my guitar in the background.

Nonetheless, only ten minutes later than planned, I served this:
Now the recipe may call it Courgette and Bacon Bake, giving the impression of a healthy and adventurous meal, but that thing is basically an omelette.  An omelette that took nearly an hour to prepare and caused an unreasonable amount of washing up.

Having said that - we did eat it together.  The Rev stopped singing long enough to appreciate the vegetable content, and Abigail ate five mouthfuls (I was counting) before throwing the rest on the floor and demanding banana.

Tomorrow it's Basque Sardines.  Heaven help us all.