Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for April 21st, 2007

An unwilling cook

with 3 comments

What started this was a post on 101 cookbooks. It got so many replies that comments were closed after the first 220!

Why should I, a 60 year old Englishman who has never cooked a meal in his life (I’m not proud of that) be looking at a Cooking site?

I am newly single, and facing having to care for myself. I’ve mastered the big white box (washing machine), discovered that ‘food’ can also go in the beer cold box, that frozen dinners can be made in the little white microwave-box, but…. I have a box left over. I think it’s called a cooker?

My problem is that “Cookbooks” are written by extremely competent, very enthusiastic cooks. This is no good at all to duffers like me, who actually don’t want to cook, but will have to.

And most of the them were explaining how you can start to cook. But the first thing that crossed my mind was “Good grief man, you don’t need to. You live in England. If I lived in England I might never cook again!” I am in a similar situation except that I have cooked since I was 16. I worked on Saturdays in the first Safeway in East London and it had a snack bar. It was always very busy and needed someone to run the dishwasher which was marginally less boring than stacking shelves with tins or packing bags at the checkout, since the waitresses were very chatty. After a while, once I had got done with the dirty dishes, I found people asking me for a cup of tea or a sandwich and it seemed it wasn’t long before one of the ladies was teaching me how to make an omlette. And she knew her stuff too. This was proper cuisine français, mon vieux. Her omlettes were works of art – or technique. Anyway, the grocery manger said if I could cook an omlette like that, I could probably cook anything. So with that boost to my confidence I discovered the joys of cooking.

But for me the main joy of cooking is serving to other people and getting their reactions. Newly single myself most of the time I can’t be arsed. And anyway, most supermarkets sell very little fresh food in single person sizes. Though if you go to Thrifty’s or IGA Market Place you can be surprised. Especially if you ask at the service counters. And I do haunt the greengrocers and bakers (fantastic coupon this week for Cob’s! – free bread!). So mostly I eat those frozen meals for one – the ones that all seem to have the number of calories in large friendly numerals on the box.

Anyway, this was tonight’s effort which will get posted on flickr’s group “I ate this” which I have looked at a lot but not contributed much to. And all I did was buy a cheap stuffed boneless, skinless chicken leg and put it in a 350°F oven until it smelled nice. All supermarkets seem to have things like this on special every so often. (The bigger ones seem to think “cordon bleu” only refers to stuffed chicken breasts.) Throwing a large russet potato into the microwave is about the easiest way I know of to get the carbs and fibre sorted, and then I have one of those bags of pre-cut veg. It says “stir fry”, but these were simply steamed. Again you can easily just pop them in the microwave with a little water in a plastic tub for a couple of minutes. This ain’t cooking – but the meal was tasty, easy to do and balanced nutritionally with either fruit and yogurt or cheese for afters. And the draft Guinness of course. Who needs recipe books?

And the category is weight loss because I doubt this is loads of calories either if you delete the beer (God forbid!) and the Becel on the spud.


Written by Stephen Rees

April 21, 2007 at 5:54 pm

Posted in Weight loss