I’m a 30 something woman who up until 2008, loved the thought of churning out weird and wonderful meals from my kitchen, collecting cheap recipe magazines and little cookbooks here and there, which I would read cover to cover, but the actual cooking of meals was slightly repressed, until Christmas ’08. My husband was living and working in the U.S.A at the time and I had gone over to visit for two weeks. All of a sudden I found myself cooking up a storm, using simple ingredients that whilst common place, seemed totally foreign to me. Two weeks later I was back in Germany and I found myself not only missing my husband but also my kitchen. It was nine months later when I was finally able to move to America and my love of food and cooking became an obsession. Suddenly my cookbooks which were either passed onto me by my mother or weedy little things, started becoming more extensive as did the list of different meals being cooked everyday.
I am no Chef nor do I know anything more about cooking than I have read in either my cookbooks, magazines or online… This blog is not geared out to be preachy with do’s and don’ts in the kitchen and apart from the obvious, like if you have a dog the likes rolling around in all things dirty, then don’t eat off your kitchen floor, health and safety is not an issue I intend to comment on, not because I dismiss it, but because I am a housewife, I haven’t done any classes on cooking or health and safety in the kitchen. My aim, plain and simple is to show that if I can do it anyone can and that home cooked meals can be and more often than not are just as delicious as those from a restaurant.
I want to show that just because a recipe is there in black and white written by a professional chef, by no means, means you can’t change it to suit you, in fact the more cookbooks you read the more you realise that just because it’s called Spaghetti Bolognese, doesn’t mean that anyone recipe is going to be the same. I regularly show wanton disregard to recipes these days, (with the exception of baking recipes) substituting ingredients I don’t like with something I do, or adding a little something here or just omitting an ingredient there. Nothing about cooking is set in stone, and there are no rules about what ingredients may or may not go together, for example if you want to eat gherkins and capers with chocolate, caramel topping and a side of pasta and chips (fries), who am I or anyone else for that matter, to tell you, you can’t?
Just the other day, I added chunky bacon bits to my mushroom ragout, that doesn’t make it any less of a ragout, just because I added them, just as it wouldn’t be any less of a ragout, if I had omitted the onions and garlic. It’s all about personal preference. I found myself skipping over recipes because they had ingredients we don’t like, I don’t remember now which recipe it was, but I couldn’t find an ingredient I needed and substituted it with something else, which is when I realised I could and can cook anything I like! Your substitute ingredient doesn’t even have to be something similar in taste, for example there is little point in something that tastes similar to a red pepper if you don’t like them? I try to keep in the boundaries of what I am cooking to a certain extent. If I was cooking a Mexican dish I would take out the red pepper and add an ingredient in keeping with Mexican food, corn maybe? But that’s just me, you might decide to use, spinach or even jelly babies that’s fine too.
The only piece of advice I really feel I must give and mostly out of experience is that you really should read a recipe all the way through before you start cooking. There’s nothing worse than becoming stuck because you “need” some piece of silly equipment that you don’t own, and then spend ages trying to botch together something viable, while the rest of your meal is still cooking, so you end up with burnt or limp veggies, or watery rice or potatoes. Yes this comes out of experience, one which is frustrating and disheartening but one which can easily be avoided.
Some of my recipes are horrifically calorific, whilst others are low in fat and calories. My personal opinion is that anything is fine in moderation, stay healthy and enjoy what you eat!!!