That’s me ~ the no-cook cook! I simply don’t enjoy cooking anymore. If it’s not easy, I don’t cook it. In fact an in-house chef, possibly named Herb or Basil, is on my wish list!
When I think back on the huge amount of cooking I used to do I can’t imagine being there now, so as this is a post about how much cooking has changed in my life it’s very appropriate that it is the first in the category of ‘Food Glorious Food’.
The reason cooking has had such a metamorphosis over the years is simple ~ it has changed with the changing chapters of my life. They say there is a time for everything, and when I think back that’s certainly been true for me. I’ve had my glamorous years when I was at the beauty salon regularly having top to toe sessions, my creative years when I painted, sculpted and sat with my mother sharing quiet winter evenings with only the sound of our clicking knitting needles, my craft years when I marshalled a whole school community into making all manner of things for annual fairs, my volunteering years where I spent much time joyfully giving, my gardening years when I turned a barren hillside into acres of magnificent garden, my studying years when I buckled down and became a herbalist and got a teaching degree. Yes, there are most definitely special times to do certain things in one’s life, and in looking back, my culinary endeavours have moved with those times.
So back to cooking! In the seventies my world was a whirlwind of formal dinner parties, and they were very, very flash! Never ending four course dinners with no less than ten guests sitting under sparkling chandeliers was the norm! I usually started preparing two days in advance. Why? Because we were all on a merry-go-round of cooking authentic French food … rich, creamy and delicious!
In reality, we were all absolutely crazy in the seventies with our over-the-top dinner parties. I even kept a guest book so I knew not to serve the same dish twice! My table was set with crystal glasses, silver cutlery and linen serviettes. The soup was served in the finest tureen, the crepe suzettes were cooked at the table and there was a different wine for every course, including after dinner liqueurs served with frozen grapes, Turkish delight and brie. It was grand indeed, but to be fair, for us, many of those dinner parties were business related ~ we often had overseas associates at our table and the bank manager was a frequent guest ~ so being on top of my game was rather important. There was a five year period where business was so brisk we had a formal dinner party every Friday and Saturday night. It didn’t take long before I could make the perfect boeuf bourguignon and crème brûlée with my eyes closed! Life was very impressive and quite often, rather extraordinary.
Then came the eighties, and it was all about el fresco outdoor dining. Cooking became far more casual. Hubby was king with the barbeque tools and I swanned around with an outstanding afro perm, big earrings and shoulder pads! Upmarket barbeques with dips, fabulous salads, trifles, cheese boards, quiches and cask wine were all the rage, but as I was studying and dispensing herbal medicine in the early eighties, everything in my house was made with the biodynamic and organic food which filled my cupboards. A juicer and a seed sprouter had pride of place on my kitchen bench. My life was immersed in motherhood, school, craft, volunteering, the alternative lifestyle and lots of good healthy food. But there was also lots of fun too. We were all youngish parents with growing children, and together we all had a ball ~ life was one big party! It was an exhilarating time.
And then came the nineties and I was studying again, this time for a teaching degree. We also had a new business and were building a new house, and for the first time in my life I was creating a garden, so life was extremely busy. Cooking was still healthy, but it had to be simple and quick ~ there was no time beyond getting it out of the cupboard and onto the table. Yes, the nineties were demanding and proved to be very challenging, and apart from special occasions, cooking food was almost an afterthought.
And now in the two thousands, I have more important things to do than cook! I would rather sit and write. That doesn’t mean we don’t eat beautiful food, we do! Just last night I cooked pancakes ~ 1 banana, 2 eggs, honey, vanilla and cinnamon. A quick whiz, on the pan and ten minutes later they were done! Easy peasy is what it’s all about in my kitchen these days. The crystal glasses, the silver cutlery and the wine carafes have long since been given away and now grace other tables. Life is quiet and joyful, and food is quick, easy and simple. I have however, kept my three dinner sets and bouillabaisse dishes just in case. So Herb and Basil, if you’re out there and can hear me, my home is your home!
Inara Hawley © 2013