fresh vegetables under running water in metal bowl
KJ's Kitchen

Cooking at home

How easy is it to cook at home? Do you get into the kitchen and make that delicious recipe grandma made or do you rely on a recipe book? I have a collection of my favourite recipe books that I have carried around with me from home to home.

My recipe book collection includes ‘From the Galleys of Nantucket’ a book of recipes from the Ladies Union Circle, North Congregational Church, Nantucket. I have the Twelfth Edition (1983). The First Edition came out in 1969. It was a gift from family living in Boston, Massachusetts. Then there is ‘Herbs for the Kitchen’ by Irma Goodrich Mazza that I bought in the 1970s. A few loved and tested recipes are from ‘A Gondola on the Murray – A Feast By the River’ by Stefano De Pieri and Loretta Sartori, with photography by John Hay. Food photography is a specialised skill. I realise this every time I pick up my camera to take a foodie photo.

Here I am with Stefano in Mildura, circa 2003. A much younger version of me!

I enjoy skimming through my recipe books and cooking old favourites. Yet, these days I also look for new recipes online. Online recipes that have reader feedback gives insight into how good it is. I am follower of Nagi’s food blog recipetineats. The curry recipe below is now a firm favourite.

This recipe is from Nagi’s food blog. The recipe recommends 3-6 birds eye chillies. I used three, two next time! The recipe was for six people. Two meals went into the freezer.

In the past I have said ‘if you can read, you can cook.’ However, this is not true. To be a competent cook you need to be able to improvise, to taste and adjust the ingredients.

I put this into practice a few dinners ago when I cooked Crispy Baked Polenta Fries. Polenta is made from cornmeal. The recipe listed 1 and 1/2 cups of chicken stock (800 ml). But 1 and 1/2 cups is 375ml. I kept doing the maths but I could not work out the quantity. I had to ‘wing it’ – improvise. I added more than 375ml of chicken stock then stirred, watched, and waited. I added more polenta, then stirred, watched, and waited until I thought I had a good consistency. The proof was in the eating.

My polenta fries. Delicious! Some left over for the freezer.
The mixture goes into the fridge for at least two hours, before cutting into the shape of fries.

I spend a good amount of my time in the kitchen. If not cooking, then cleaning up! I would rather do this then buy bottled sauces or meals in a packet. That is, most of the time!

If you look at the major supermarket magazines their recipes have moved away from cooking from scratch to easy meals. This includes bottle of this and bottles of that, from their range. Are busy people their target audience?

However, cooking at home and cooking from scratch is not difficult, even if you have a busy lifestyle. All it takes is thinking and planning. Months ago I returned to writing down my weekly meal plan. I had lapsed for a while and did all the planning in my head. It works better if you write it down. My weekly meal plan then goes on to the fridge door. I do not have to think about dinner through the week as it has been planned.

A peek in the pantry and I quickly discover items that need to be used, before their expiry dates. Any ingredients that are not in the pantry go on to my shopping list. Meal planning reduces waste and cooking from home is healthier for us. Also, it saves time in the long run. Try it and let me know how it works for you. And by the way, what is your favourite recipe you cook from scratch?

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