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I am not a chef and will never claim to be anything else but a lover of simple home cooking.  In my life BC (before children) I had no interest whatsoever in cooking. I rarely had little else other than a good white wine and some cheese in the fridge.  And milk for tea.  I ate out most of the time, especially when I lived and worked in central London and when I did have to cook for myself, cheese on toast was just about it.  And even then it was cream cheese.  No wonder I complained of having no energy all of the time!mushrooms

My passion for cooking has developed over the years but primarily as a result of two events.  First of all I was bought a copy of Nigel Slater’s Real Cooking. It certainly transformed my thinking about cooking – it suddenly all seemed so easy!  Secondly, having children made me take notice not just on  how to cook but what I was cooking and the nutritional value of food.  I did not want my children to grow up to be the nightmare fussy eater that my parents had to put up with and neither did I want them to have a diet that predisposed them to any long term general medical conditions.  As an optometrist, I am all to familiar with the effects of diabetes on the health of our nation.  And finally, as far as my weekly budget was concerned, I did  not want to pay through the nose for food either.

When out on our walks with the dog we have several regular places where we find berries, plums, mushrooms, apples and other fruit, depending upon the time of year.  And what’s more, they cost nothing.  However, particularly with respect to mushrooms, we never cook or eat anything we cannot put a name to. wild cherries

One of my friends in The Village bakes all her own bread on a daily basis which I am working my way up to. I admire her for that but sadly struggle to find the time to come anywhere close to her productivity levels!  I do, however, make homemade pizzas (a great way of using up leftover veg in the fridge) and love kneading out my frustrations on a foccacia.  I always say that my bread rises better after an argument with David!  I have considered a bread machine to make daily bread for sandwiches but I don’t have the space in the kitchen.  Besides, I don’t want to loose the reason to make handmade bread which I think the bread machine could lure me away from.

I am also lucky to own a Rayburn cooker. We have had it for nearly eight years and this has become central to most of my cooking.  However, I still have a combination oven for quick fixes and actually prefer it for baking cakes. The main reason for having another oven is that despite having a large deep oven, the Rayburn cannot cope with one large bird, three types of roast vegetables, two more steaming, at least one pudding, a cake and a couple of sauces all at once on Christmas Day.  No matter how much preparation is done ahead (and I am sadly not that organised anyway) I just cannot juggle all of these dishes in one range cooker and keep them piping hot or crisp on their way to the table.  But as far as method of cooking goes, I will never change to anything else.

CookerSo although cooking and home baking is one of my passions I am still learning. I use local produce whenever I can and avoid the supermarket unless I need the basics.  In recent years I have become much better at using what is around us.  Living here in The Village, almost all of us are growing something.  And more often than not we find our neighbours leaving a bag of potatoes or some green beans on the fence or at the backdoor.  We try to reciprocate with rhubarb or some berries, but until we finish redesigning the garden our own vegetable plot is still very small.  However don’t be fooled with all this healthy talk!  I still drink the wine and I still have the cheese on toast – and I still struggle to eat all of the greens that I dish up onto my own plate.  As I said, it is a learning process; just because I love to cook doesn’t make eating a massive quantity of courgette after a summer glut any easier.  That being said, I always find my own cooking more palatable, even if it is a vegetable that I never previously enjoyed eating.

Ok, so I admit to being less than perfect – my children love sweets and can laze about in front of the TV all day if left to do so, whilst I tuck into another slice of cake. But thankfully they enjoy Grandma’s purple sprouting broccoli too, prefer my home made pizzas to anything brought home and often grab a more healthy cereal bar for their swimming bag instead of another biscuit (leaving more for me of course).  As long as there is a balance somewhere, I will continue to be happy!

All Recipes (slowly but surely).  As the seasons chage and as we have yet another glut of fruit or vegetables from the garden or the surrounding fields I shall be including somewell tried and tested recipes. Clearly many involve alcohol so be patient – I just need to taste them all one more time!

  • Apple & Blackberry Crumble
  • Apple Pies a plenty – what style would you like today?
  • Drop Scones – my way.  Just dont call them Scotch pancakes – theres no Scotch involved!
  • Blackberry Gin
  • Plum Vodka
  • Plum Ice Cream
  • Sloe and Damson Gin