I got myself a new cookery book the other day. It's called Just like mother used to make and it's by a guy called Tom Norrington-Davies. On the back are a couple of quotes from reviews, and the one from The Times says that "the recipes are simple to follow and comfortingly delicious to eat." Marvellous, thunked Mary. This is the book I need.
Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear.
I should have looked at the name, really. This book is written by a man, who has access to many varied London shops, and above all, can afford a dishwasher. This is speculation, of course, but if he washes all his own dishes I will be very surprised.
I'm on page 82 now and I am stunned with the amount of faffery this guy suggests. It's the sort of cooking that's probably fun a couple of times a week if you're the sort of person who enjoys cooking and gets a kick out of accomplishing a meal (and you have a dishwasher).
A particular area where Tom and I have fallen out is over the issue of soup. He describes several "comfort soups" which according to him are "low maintenance" and "great food for those times when we are under the weather." Under the weather, that's me, let's take a look. Tomato soup, great.
First, he wants me to peel and chop onions, garlic (actually this should be "bruised" whatever the hell that means), a leek, and some carrots. Washing-up count so far, at least one sharp knife and chopping board, and a bowl to put the chopped veg in, plus it's taken me four hours due to keeping needing to sit down, the odds are I've cut my fingers, and we've not even got to the recipe instructions yet. You're then meant to stand at the cooker for ten minutes "keeping an eye on" the veg while they sweat in a little oil in a covered saucepan (washing-up count: saucepan, lid, wooden spoon). Next, we add some sugar and some tinned tomatoes (tinned? Tom, I'm shocked, you mean I don't have to grow them myself?), whack the heat up, and stand at the cooker for at least five minutes, "stirring constantly". Add some water (he prefers stock but he can stick that up his jumper) and allow to simmer, uncovered, for about an hour, because I always wanted to turn my flat into a tomato-scented sauna. Finally, we chuck it through the blender (washing up count: one blender which he doesn't tell you must be washed before the soup sets on the blades - handwashing blenders is Not Good) and add milk, salt and faff to taste. Serve (washing up count: bowl, spoon, and he also wants nice fresh bread but we're just not going to go there).
Total washing-up: two bowls, one spoon, one wooden spoon, blender, saucepan and lid, sharp knife(s), chopping board(s), and I bet the work surfaces and cooker hob got splattered too.
Tom. Mate. If you ever feel really under the weather, here's what you do.
Get the bowl you intend to eat from, the spoon you intend to eat with, a tin-opener (I know you have one because of those tinned tomatoes) and a can of Heinz Cream of Tomato soup. Open the can and empty it into the bowl. Put the bowl into the microwave and nuke it for one minute. During this minute, assuming you recycle, peel the label off the can and rinse the can under the tap before chucking it in the appropriate bin. Rinse the tin-opener too and leave it on the draining board to air-dry. Get the soup from the microwave, stir it with the spoon, and then put it back in for another minute. Have a little sit-down. The microwave will beep but don't get excited, just in your own time get up and get the soup. The bowl will be hot, be careful. Give it another stir and eat. If it makes you feel better you can put a sprig of freshly plucked basil on top, or an artistic little swirl of cream.
Total washing-up: one bowl, one spoon.
I'm not even going to talk about what he expects me to do about mashed potatoes. Still, I have another 106 pages to read and hopefully there will be some genuinely simple and easy thing that I can serve up with microwave mash and instant gravy.
I don't want to be a domestic goddess, I just want simple easy food!