I have mixed feelings when it comes to cooking. At times I approach it with a Disneyesque joy (although for environmental health reasons I keep the animals involvement to a minimum) Occasionally its with a degree of apprehension. Most often than not it's with a sense of apathy.
I'm not the most co-ordinated of people, which is probably why as a child my presence in the kitchen was not necessarily viewed with a great deal of enthusiasm. My duties were limited to setting the table and drying the dishes (As anyone with siblings knows there is a hierarchy to doing dishes, the elder washes, the younger dries. Being the youngest of 4 girls it was inevitable I would always be stuck with the drying!)
So before going off to college I had to a acquire a certain degree of culinary know how. A 'crash' course, and yes I do mean that literally, at my mothers side armed me with recipes designed to make the smallest amount of food stretch the furthest. Not so much recipes, more vague instructions as to what to use and in which quantity to use them. Nothing was ever written down. My diet during those four years was 'interesting' shall we say. However since most students aren't too choosy when it comes to a free meal it also saw my introduction to the pleasures of entertaining round the dinner table.
All of this was to change when I got married and had my boys, and I'll be honest, I did panic a bit. I had managed to survive on my meagre offerings but I didn't think my family could. Fortunately a very good friend's mother was my salvation. As an engagement present she gave me my first, and best, recipe book.
The second lifesaver came when my health visitor recommended this book to me. She must have sensed my unease at the prospect of weaning twins. When I say unease I mean terror, the 'rabbit in the headlights' kind.
So I discovered the joys of planned cooking, of following a recipe in the knowledge that if it was a dish that met with approval I would be able to reproduce it at a later date. Dinner parties became less tentative even as the attendees became a bit more discerning. The bookshelf became fuller, the dishes more adventurous and I more confident in the kitchen.
It was all going well .... until drudgery set in.
Cooking something new every day, being limited by the family's likes and dislikes, planning the weekly shop to give me as many options as possible..... boring. Add to the mixture the fact that every now and again I have a Captain Kitchen moment when, like any super hero worth their salt, my super powers come in to play. As Captain Kitchen I have the ability to burn water, turn pasta or rice into a pot shaped building brick and supply the school hockey team with indestructible muffin shaped pucks.
In an attempt to alleviate the tedium I have gone back to my early days. Every now and again I try some experimental cookery. This is usually preceded by the discovery that I am missing some vital ingredient for the planned meal. Tonight's offering was a sort of Mediterranean chicken. Some chicken, onions, red peppers, skinned beef tomatoes, tomato puree, red wine vinegar, herbs de provence, muscovado sugar, baby plum tomatoes and chicken stock. Yes, 'some' is as technical as the measurements get. It went down rather well.
Give me a special occasion, a party, a bit of a do. The preparation and planning before hand, poring through recipe books to come up with a suitable menu, writing up lists of ingredients (or possible alternatives should they be unobtainable), trying out new dishes. That's the kind of cooking I get a kick out of. The day to day stuff? Well it has to be done, that's all.