The Throwback Thursday topic Lauren has chosen this week is cooking, specifically our early memories of it.
I have very bad memories of cooking classes in high school. I was not very good at it and I didn’t cope well with having to deal with unfamiliar equipment and teachers who yelled or were sarcastic if you didn’t know how to do something. For example, I first encountered a gas oven in one of these classes and I was nervous about lighting it. We had electric at home. I didn’t wear my glasses all the time in those days so had to peer inside the oven to find where to light it, this was before ovens with automatic ignition. Putting my head and hand so close to a naked flame didn’t seem like a great idea. The teacher was unsympathetic and just told me to hurry up. Another time we had to make crumbed chops. I’d never eaten a crumbed chop before and had no idea how to make the breadcrumbs stick to the meat. I really suffered in those classes; I was bad at sewing too but that’s a whole other story. It did not whet my appetite for cooking.
Mum was what I’d call a plain cook. We had things like lamb chops and boiled or mashed potatoes, sausages, fish fingers and chips and a roast on Sunday of course. I think that lamb must have been cheaper than chicken then. We ate a lot of lamb but hardly ever had chicken. I’m not complaining, I was happy eating that food and still cook those things myself. Except boiled potatoes, they are boring, I always mash them.
So, I didn’t especially like to cook but I did enjoy baking. Mum taught me to make Victoria Sandwich cake, cupcakes, scones, and pastry. I was never very good at the latter two. I can make a reasonable scone but Naomi’s are better. I used to make sweet shortcrust pastry for the Christmas mince pies when I took over making them from mum but later changed to using a recipe from my Margaret Fulton Cookbook which used biscuit pastry for them. I share this favourite recipe every Christmas.
Once I was married, I started to be more interested in cooking. Margaret Fulton was my go-to cookbook but I acquired others and over the years experimented with other dishes. David was always happy to eat something different. When I got a microwave oven in the 90s, I did enjoy experimenting with vegetable dishes but I also cooked from the Gabriel Gata cook books because they were easy to follow. For a while when we were really into watching Formula One on TV, I used to make a dish from the country the race was being held in on race day. That was fun.
David was always overweight, even before I knew him and as he became obese, he decided to have his stomach stapled. After that he could only eat tiny portions of anything so that made cooking more of a problem. There were so many things he wouldn’t or couldn’t eat that in the end it was like cooking for one and a bit people and I rather lost interest in cooking. I’m not really interested in experimenting any more. I still like to bake and try to cook nice meals and I enjoy good food when we go out but I don’t want to talk about food all the time or watch cooking shows.