Going Back to Home Cooking ‘Avec Monsieur Lethaby’
Posted on September 25, 2015
One of the first things I enjoyed doing when I got my first house (which was after a divorce about 8 years ago), was embarking on home cooking, guided by various books put together by the likes of Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay and Rachel Allen (a personal favourite).
However, after a period of 18 months where I moved around Hampshire I kind of lost my way and became over-reliant on my girlfriend, who coming from a background that includes Portugal, Dubai, India, Tanzania and Ireland, is an excellent cook who has had me discovering taste buds I never knew existed.
The flat I lived in was good enough and had all the built-in cooking facilities required but because I was renting from a company (Grainger) that had PLC on the end of its name, I knew damn well that they would use any excuse possible not to pay me my £1100.00 deposit back. As a consequence, I refrained using the equipment as much as possible.
My fears were about my deposit were confounded after I received an offer back with the following deductions:
Check out fee: £144:00 (?)
Cleaning: 114:00 (It was cleaned throughout)
Cleaning of moss on Balcony: £65:00 (I never used the balcony)
Missing Items £19:00 (?)
Mildew staining £50:00 (?)
I know I hark on about socialist principles too much sometimes but public limited companies are there for one thing only, and that is to ensure some fat bastard gets a big salary and the customer pays for it.
Of course, the idea of privatisation is that money from investors and customers goes back into improving the service and facilities provided. However, as an example, try persuading the victims of the Potters Bar rail crash at the hands of the now bankrupt Jarvis Rail (Chaired by Tory MP Steven Norris), that this is the case.
So anyway, back to the cooking bit. Now I am back in my own home that I am solely responsible for, I have started cooking again, picking off where I left off, a bit like a child who hasn’t been on a bike for two years.
A Pot of Chilli
What I am also trying to do, is install a regime where my youngest son Harry, learns to do some basic cooking with me when he comes to stay; not an easy task I admit but one I intend to take on with gusto.
Harry is a bright boy, however, if he was to enter a ‘Cook Off’ with a handcuffed Stevie Wonder, there would only be one winner and that would be the guy who ‘just called to say he loved you’ in 1984 before becoming your ‘part time lover’ in 1985.
He will (Harry, not Stevie Wonder) in all likelihood, be heading off to university in 2016 and I am deeply concerned that after a couple of months, there will be a picture of him on TV with flies buzzing around his head as Lenny Henry wistfully introduces him to the British public.
“Meet Harry…he hasn’t eaten for three weeks…just £1:00 of your money will help pay for one of our volunteers to teach him how to cook a jacket potato.”
Unfortunately, his mother has yet to realise that if a teenager is given an inch, he will take what could be measured in light years, so it is going to be down to me to get him heading in the right direction…and the ham, new potatoes, carrots, broccoli and peas he put together last Saturday was a triumph over adversity.
In the household I lived in, learning to scavenge was what we perceived as normal and I think I fried my first egg when I was still in nappies. With chaos reigning and siblings all over the place, food literally had to be stolen with ingenuity being the order of the day.
This had an eclectic range of results and the cheese sandwich my brother Bruce produced one drunken evening, will live long in the memory. The Cheese was actually a rock hard piece of Echo cooking margarine that sent nauseous shock waves through his body for several hours afterwards.
So after using cook books and strictly adhering to the suggested recipes, it wasn’t long before I was heading down the route of my late mother by chucking everything I got my hands on in to the pot and seeing what happened, which, with things like casseroles and chilli’s is in my opinion, the only way forward.
Because I have had a chest injury this week, my girlfriend has been cooking for me as I get mobile again, so today, now I am better, I have prepared a big pot of chilli for her. This mainly because it is relatively simple to put together and play around with all the herbs, spices and left over red wine that is knocking around but also to satisfy her lust, not for me, but for hot food.
It was while preparing this I began wonder just how tough the human intestines are. In this particular dish there are onions that made me cry as if I were watching a ‘Little House on the Prairie’ montage; Scotch Bonnet chillies that need to be treated as if they are plutonium, plus cinnamon and cumin that carry a heady aroma that instantly reminds me of my Grandma’s bedroom.
Those Scotch Bonnet chillies are absolutely lethal, scratch your eye or have a wee after cutting them up and you are in serious danger of an afternoon in A&E, yet, whilst we avoid them touching our outer-body, we will happily stick them inside of us. Madness.
So with chilli in the pot and toilet roll in the fridge, I will bid you all a fine weekend.