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With abandon or not at all

April 26, 2012

Bread pudding: From the archives
(Used to be able to cook nice things.)

I think one of the things I have found most disheartening about this whole process of gaining some semblance of control over my domestic life, is discovering that I have forgotten how to cook.

I used to be a capable, creative, intelligent and resourceful cook who could whip up nutritious meals out of bits and bobs. I could make cakes. I could waltz into the kitchen and work a little magic.

But it’s been a long time, I’ve let the kitchen clutter and the overwhelmingness of everything get the better of me, and I’m out of practice. I’ve lost the knack, forgotten what works, and somehow I can’t any longer come up with those crazy made-up recipes I used to throw together, that just kind of worked. All my experiments go wrong.

Someone or other (I can’t be bothered to google it) said that cooking is like love – you do it with abandon or not at all.

Well, I’ve long since questioned whether to approach love with careless abandon is always such a very great plan. And I think the time has come to have the same realisation about cooking.

I need to re-learn how. With those old-fashioned things – recipe books.

Today I made guacamole – with a recipe – and it was admittedly crap but that was only because the avocados weren’t ripe enough. So I added it to dinner and cooked it a bit and instead of being a bit random and spoiling the whole thing (which is what has been happening to most of my recent cooking experiments) it really worked. That was cheering.

The dinner, incidentally, was veggie cous cous (with ad hoc guacamole) – and even that very simple dish was from a recipe. OK, so I didn’t *stick* to the recipe, but – you know – babysteps.

Things I have learned today:

  • Guacamole really does need properly, properly ripe avocados.
  • However, guacamole made with under-ripe avocados can be rescued by cooking it up in veggie cous cous.
  • Using recipes is not cheating.
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