When I tell someone that I write a food blog, their first response is usually ‘oh, so you like cooking?’. Is that a rhetorical question? Who doesn’t like cooking? Then, it’s a weeknight night, I’m in a rush to get supper on the table, the kitchen is drenched in flour, I can smell something burning in the oven – and I’m, frankly, not so sure. Do I enjoy cooking?
As I get older, and wiser, cook more and more, I have got quite savvy about the bits I like, and how best to avoid the bits I don’t. So here are my cooking dos and don’ts:
1. Accept that tidying and cooking go hand in hand: there is no real way around this one. Trust me, I’ve tried looking. That said, always start with an empty dishwasher and stack it as you go along, and always put everything away as you go: think ‘cupboard’, ‘sink’ or ‘dishwasher’. No exceptions. Except maybe ‘fridge’ – you get the gist. It really helps lessen the load.
2. Set an alarm, when you put something in the oven. Always. So, for example example: you’re muffins only need another five minutes, and you’re standing there in the kitchen, hovering rightover the oven. Still set an alarm. People get easily distracted, cakes get forgotten, burnt to a cinder. Then people cry. It happens all the time: fact. Just don’t let it happen to you.
3. Make sure that you’ve got all the ingredients ready before you start cooking. Not quite everything laid out in pre-apportioned pretty little bowls, cookery-show style. But almost. The number of times I’m halfway through making a recipe only to find that we’ve run out of eggs. Option one: just give up; option two: run across the road to the corner shop – only to find that they’re out of eggs too. Either way, not ideal. And definitely, not fun. Oh – and bonus tip: when you’re checking your ingredients, allow for a little wastage too.
4. Be realistic about your time frame. If the recipe says that it takes 30 mins – it probably takes closer to 45, especially if it’s the first time that you’re making it. Cooking when rushed is always stressful. So don’t be rushed. If that means scrambled eggs on toast for dinner, so be it. I like scrambled eggs.
5. The one thing that I really loathe to do is chop onions. To stop the eyes watering: chop the onion in half, use a knife to peel off the skin and toss the skin in the bin; rinse the onion under cold, running water; then chop the onion, toss it into a bowl, and set it far from you; rinse the knife and chopping board in cold water before starting the process all over again with a second onion. Do not skip a single step. No tears (almost) guaranteed.