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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

No mucking about here

I was just thinking about my meals, how easy they are to make. How simple they are and how quick I can rustle something up. I have been preparing food this way for many years, using my own imagination when it comes to which ingredients to use. My tastes are simple, I know what I like. I don't have tons of those small glass spice jars, I don't need them. I don't posses a cookery book, I did have one but as I hadn't looked at it for 30 years I gave it to a charity shop. They might be great for those who can't cook very well, or want to try new recipes, but I can cook, and I'd rather stick with the food I like. 
Some people might think that would be a boring way to eat, same old, same old, but I can vary my meals by switching ingredients, which largely depends on what was on special offer or reduced at the supermarket. 
 My theory is that you can spend many hours in the kitchen, preparing, chopping, boiling, stewing, smashing, casseroling, wrapping things in pastry, mixing, mashing, then smothering in sauce, and the outcome is still the same, you serve it up on a plate, it gets eaten, and it's gone. I get the same result with my simple meals, except they take me longer to eat, because I chew every mouthful very carefully and savour the natural flavour of every ingredient. I use the few spices I have very sparingly, so as not to overwhelm the taste of the vegetables I am cooking. 
Life is made a lot simpler by not eating meat. I make a veggie stew, it can be ready in 15 - 20 minutes when I do it in a pan on the top of the gas cooker. Add meat to it, and depending on the cut, it can take an hour or more. Put a meat dish in the oven and you're looking at a couple of hours. I am not on a mission to turn everyone into a vegetarian, each to their own, but from the look of some of the meat on the butchers slab as I walk through the market, it would be more suited to serve it up to the dog. Anyway, that's my opinion, you eat what you like. 
I am of the mind that the closer you can get to raw, simple, and non mucked about food, the better it is for you. Boiling vegetables is sacrilege, I never do it. If I make a stew obviously I am boiling them, but then the water is flavoured with spices and is eaten as part of the meal.  Steaming is the way to go, either in the microwave or on the hob, or in an electric steamer. I prick them with a fork to see how they are doing and remove from the heat the minute they are done. There's no soggy sprouts or mushy spuds in this house.
I am mindful of how much oil I use, it's hardly worth me buying any I use so little. I do like toasted sesame seed oil though,  it tastes lovely. I drizzle a bit on my steamed veg, it gives them a lovely nutty flavour. But, I am on my last bottle which I got from the cash and carry for £1. It might be a long time until they get any more in, so when it's gone it's gone. They sell a small bottle in Tesco for around £1.50, I won't be paying that, so I will do without.  
This is what I had for my lunch. Simple and non mucked about. Salad leaves, coleslaw, and some of yesterdays pasta. I deliberately made extra for my dinner last night, which I had with the last of the cheap home made vegetable soup. Tonight is steamed sprouts and broccoli. 
If cooking is your hobby and you enjoy it, as long as you get the pleasure from all the time you put into it, that's fine. My food is simple slap it on a plate type of food. I don't eat with my eyes, and I don't need to create masterpieces. All these cookery programmes which pile farting bits of food on top of each other, with not enough to fill a gnat's belly, you can keep them. I don't watch them, I've seen the trailers, and the pictures in magazines. What's it all about eh!

Blimey, I should have asked Nellie to write this post, ha ha.  
Toodle pip


  1. Not exactly "slapped on a plate" all the time Ilona. You have shown us some delightful little faces you've created with your meals!

  2. All your meals look yummy to me.
    Love from Mum

  3. I learned to cook from an early age but hardly ever bother with cook books as there are ingredients that I've never heard of in some recipes. I eat meat but seem to be buying less and less as its so expensive and I never buy supermarket meat (always get it from a reputable butcher). Its also difficult when you live with others who won't touch a lot of food that's healthy. However, one of the nicest desserts I've had was a dairy free chocolate cake, made by a friend who is vegan.

    Elaine, Oldham.

  4. Everything you eat is so nutritious and good for you. Even the way you cook it, is perfect. I tend to fuss too much about meals. I steam veggies too but we also eat meat so there is that to contend with. Also, when I make something like spaghetti sauce, it takes awhile to cook it. I don't mind because I like to cook but I get what you're saying too. I think your meals are nice to look at and must be nice to eat too! Very refreshing and tasty.

  5. that does indeed look yummy. I am not cooking with as much meat now.

  6. Enjoyed your post AND your attitude :) Though we aren't vegetarians, our meals are quite simple as well. A half dozen spice or herb mixes I create is plenty. I love the unique flavour of sesame oil, too! We passed on to our children an appreciation of foods as they occur in nature.

    Many years ago I condensed our favorite "recipes" and printed them in book form for family and friends who'd been after them for some time. Inexpensive and personal gift, and great for the boys when they moved away. Most of these favorites are 5-8 "ingredients", even the occasional dessert. Nowadays I would skip the paper copies and send the e-files :)

  7. Some days I like to faff other days it is quick, the main thing is that most of our meals are made from fresh, healthy ingredients which includes meat some days, fish more often and Quorn to replace mince for lasagne and spag bol. My family probably wouldn't eat the sort of meals you do, and as my contribution to the running of the house is to shop for food and prepare meals I try to make those that they enjoy. The beauty of living on your own must be not having to please anyone else, and then you can eat whatever you like!

    1. I agree Kate, I'm the same, there's a kind of satisfaction about faffing about and producing something tasty at the end of it all even if it does disappear within two seconds of getting on the plate. Likewise other days it'll be something quick like egg and chips, just depends how much time I've got that day. For me it's a like a challenge to see how many shepherd's pies, burgers or whatever I can get out of a pound of mince, or what I can come up with using only vegetables. My mum lives on her own and is quite happy to have the works, or just a banana sandwich. She says it's great not having to cater for anyone else.

    2. Yum, banana sandwiches, drizzled with honey, I love them.

  8. I do envy you in the nicest possible way Ilona. I would love to turn my family onto this sort of thing, well meatless at least.I enjoy the great British bakeoff, not just for Paul Hollywood, but for the sweet stuff.I would never fanny around making anything that complicated though. I makea huge pot of soup each week for work out of whatever veggies are cheap this week, I am a big fan of chucking stuff together. An ex-husband of mine used to takeme out to dinner at one of those "expensive nothing on your plate" type of places, thinking he was classy. I hate them,I like big tasty portions that fill me up.I love this post.

  9. Your creativity clearly also show itself in your cooking. Your photos always look super, I would not know where to begin without a cookbook:)

  10. Your diet is great but dont skimp on oil - #1.50 is not a lot to pay for an essential nutrient. Your body cannot absorbed vitamins etc. from your food without oil, also you need the calories from it.

  11. Hi, I am a veggie and live alone, I love your food!!!!! I cant think of anything worse that a great heap in the middle of the plate with a few dribbles and splodges around it. What is under the pile? I wonder? Like you I buy as many of my veggies reduced, (thanks for the inspiration on that one). I do bake occasionally but plain good old fashioned recipes that I can divide and freeze. I try not to overeat to make my pension stretch as far as I can, As I have said before
    you inspire me , keep at it, your food is great .


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