Sitting in my other office (aka the car) sipping a takeaway coffee and sucking on squares of ‘Galaxy’ to make them last as long as possible while I wait for my daughter at her camogie training, I’ve a stack of food magazines with me for company and on top of the pile Nigel Slater’s ‘Real Cooking.’ I’ve been wanting to acquire a ‘Slater’ for a while now and I love, love, love it. It’s hard to believe that it was first published in 1997 and I’ve waited 13 years to get my hands on a copy. It looks so fresh, contemporary and relevant.
(Please ignore the following subliminal, hidden, subtly positioned, coded message to ‘The Gravy Man’ – For Christmas buy me a big fat Nigel Slater Cookbook.)
I bought ‘Real Cooking’ last Saturday and hid it away until all the others had left the house (yes, for a football match) and I pulled it out only after I had made a big batch of mushroom soup and shoved half a lemon into the carcass of two chickens that I’d drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pushed into the oven. Cooking was not going to interrupt me and Nigel, or rather Nigel and I. (Nigel makes me want to write better English.) Listen to this:
“I cannot be alone in regarding a baked potato, its skin crisp and salty, its flesh fluffed and buttery, as being a perfectly decent supper as it is.”
Too right Nigel, but the best quote, one which I will forever park somewhere in a brain drawer marked ‘reality check’ is this:
“There is too much talk of cooking being an art or a science – we are only making ourselves something to eat.”
(…if Nigel were Irish that sentence would probably end with ffs.)
As I delved into the ‘Chicken & Other Birds’ section of the book, I was sorry that I hadn’t read it before I’d flung my chickens into the oven. If I had, I would have first squeezed the lemons over the birds before sticking them inside and then massaged them with butter rather than drizzling them with oil. It was too late. I did however still have time to wander in occasionally and spoon the oils and juices over the chickens as they cooked, rendering them succulent, juicy birds with sinful, crispy skin.
Nigel is coming to bed with me tonight. ‘The Gravy Man’ is away and no doubt I’ll eventually, drowsily close the book when another brain drawer fills up and is closed for the night.
But what of Nigella?
Well Nigella can’t come to bed with me because I do not yet own a Nigella and have to date just browsed through her on the shelves. I don’t know of anyone who has admitted to this but I have been put off Nigella by the title of ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’. I don’t aspire to be one, haven’t a prayer of ever being one , don’t know anyone who is one and think we would have nothing in common. I do know however that her books are very highly regarded and having watched her cook on TV many times I have no doubt that Nigella will soon join my collection. Just not that particular book and I’m afraid to say that as yet I remain uninspired by her latest television offering (Nigella Kitchen). Now perhaps I should reserve judgement until I’ve watched another couple of episodes of this programme but to sit and watch a slightly stale cake being sliced, drizzled with watered down marmalade, smothered in cream and decorated with enormous (I would love to see the bush on which these grew) blackberries, was a letdown. Anything smothered in fresh cream and fruit will taste good and passing this off as a trifle is, in my opinion, an insult to custard loving trifle people. Zero for effort and inspiration.
‘The Gravy Man’ watched in disgust as what little gravy/jus there was for the lamb was poured onto the meat with no extra to be soaked up by the gnocchi roasties. Personally I didn’t have a problem with this dish at all and thought it looked delicious.
If you make it through to the end of this dissertation without the welcome break that photographs provide then thank you for bearing with me. I’ve been upskilling lately and attending an ‘Internet Marketing’ course as well as a ‘Social Media’ Conference and a photography course and ironically that’s my excuse for no pictures in this post! I also managed to hit the Publish button too early when writing this post so I hope that the subscribers will forgive me with the very drafty version that they received.
And finally I think that I have made enough reference to ‘The Gravy Man’ for you to realise that this is what I have decided to christen my husband in future postings. He rarely makes an appearance in these pages though he patiently accommodates my sejourns to the office for their creation and he is even putting up with the ‘no salt’ on the table, however when there is no sauce or jus or gravy he lets it be known without uttering a word or a sigh that something is missing.
Enough of my ramblings and a promise of a baking recipe and some pictures on Friday. (I’m changing my posting days for the next couple of weeks so it will be Wednesday and Friday for a while.)
Til next time,