Friday, February 4, 2011

The Fires of Domestic Bliss (not an advert for Jamie Oliver, honest)

I’m not the most domesticated woman in the world. I never move the furniture when I bother to hoover and many of my clothes are bought specifically because they don’t need to be ironed. Cooking is something to be completed to fulfil my nutritional needs although I do like to be aesthetically pleased by my food that’s not a great combination when you’re a lazy cook, as I am...unless you are lucky enough to be married to a more than competent and happy to cook husband.
Yes, lucky me, I haven’t needed to cook in the past because I’ve had a great husband to do it for me. Now, I don’t want to be too misleading here. I can cook fairly adequately, I’m just a bit haphazard and disorganised in my approach and, therefore, I’ve had some great memorable disasters in the kitchen. These include an attempt (over ambitious in hindsight) to make a fabulous whole orange in the middle chocolate cake from a Jamie Oliver recipe (don’t we all love Jamie?) for my best friend Amanda’s wedding celebration. The whole thing collapsed, leaving a rather sad looking chocolate smeared orange in the middle. The chocolate flavoured goo that surrounded the orange was delicious, but it could not, by any stretch of the imagination, be called a beautiful cake!!
I have also served pizza with cabbage (for want of any other vegetable for the kids) which husband teases me about to this very day...don’t know why because the children ate it and so did I...
When I worked quite long hours in a demanding job, my husband took care of the home and kids for a few blissful years, then he took a job and occasionally would be unable to cook dinner. These are fondly known as my pesto years because the staple evening meal became pasta with pesto sauce. Thankfully, the children adore my pasta pesto sauce and ‘green pasta’ became the children’ favourite dish!
Then, horror of horrors, my husband applied for his own great job, complete with long hours and I am now working part time...which means that I am home first, which means that I am on food duty. Now the first few months were a bit haphazard in terms of food preparation. I was devoid of ideas and after a lengthy kitchen absence seemed to have forgotten how to make anything bar green pasta.
Luckily, my wonderful mother in law informed me about Jamie Oliver’s new book (we love you Jamie). Mother in law had been watching the 30 minute meals programme and extolled its virtues, so we bought the book.
Needless to say, Jamie is a genius (despite my failure with the orange chocolate cake from many moons ago) and I am a convert to the 30 minute meal regime. I have tried a range of recipes with some fab results. The kids like the food and so do I.
I am now happy to call myself a domestic goddess, almost on a par with Nigella but without the cleavage and with a bit more fire...we have had a small blazing adventure with one dish.
The meal involved baking parchment and filo pastry and the oven, shall we just say that I set the oven on fire and we had a blazing conflagration in the kitchen which the children really enjoyed and I stared at open mouthed. Thankfully competent chef (AKA husband) was around to quench the fire quickly and save parts of the pie, so our dinner was only a little bit burnt and not smouldering at all. And there was only a little bit of burning baking parchment floating around the kitchen. And we weren’t completely overwhelmed by the smoke. And the phrase ‘don’t try this at home’ did keep popping into my mind in a semi-hysterical way. The pie was good, it was eaten and I still insist that I am a domestic goddess, complete with fiery flames in the background and me dancing in the foreground a la “Tales of the Unexpected” opening titles.

*If you don’t understand that reference you can you tube Tales of the Unexpected opening titles!!


  1. Hi Sian

    I never realised you were all at sea in the kitchen. We have the 30 minute book also and it is excellent-although Jamie does annoy me with his 'Mr cabbage' loves 'Mr Pizza' asides. We also have Nigel Slater but his are more like story books and you end up asking where's the recipe? Hate the ones where you are midway through a simple recipe and then it says 'now add 30g of gold leaf from the lair of a dragon'....

  2. I see you are applying the same exuberance to your cooking as you do to your cocktail making. :-) Will pack my fire retardant wardrobe for Easter!
    I do love Nigel Slater. I don't actually care about the recipes because reading his books is just like sitting in front of a big fire in the corner of his kitchen, with a glass of wine, whilst he potters shelling peas to the strains of Radio 4's afternoon play. Mmm. Sian, you might like his Real Fast Food, which beats Jamie's 45 minute "30 minute" recipes into a cocked hat (available next to the gold leaf from a dragon's lair in your local supermarket). Annie


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