Cook’s paradise or loony bin?

On a recent business trip, colleagues (all women) and I were talking about preparing the evening meal and one asked, in astonished horror, “You cook every night, Fiona?”

“Well, yes, actually, I do – most nights.”

She went to say that she and the family member with whom she lives, take it in turns to cook, and sometimes, late after a hard day’s work, it’s just easier to pick something up on the way home. If you’re wondering, no, I don’t cook every night because we live in a village without a major chain store, speciality food shops or fast food outlets. It’s a practice that goes back years.

UrsulaI could blame it on my mother – she cooked every evening, too, after working a full day. Quite a role model some would say, and yes that was an example I strove to emulate, a long time ago.  No longer. People are often envious that I have a home office whence I have worked for more than twenty years:  “Oh, it must be great to have the time to do the things you need to do around the house and in the kitchen!” Really? No, not really. I have often been heard to say that I work for the best and worst Boss in the world.  The pay is erratic, she has high standards, expects me to keep regular and routine business hours and to keep the clients happy.  I am expected to under promise and over deliver: deadlines are cast in concrete.  It is no different for the project I’ve been working on for the last few months;  the project is interesting, but all the other stuff around it has almost driven me around the bend. Sprizer at my deskAll of that said, one of the things that helps to preserve my sanity, is cooking.  Some of it is spur of the moment, but not all of it is.  A strategy that I devised for myself, roughly when I started working for said awfully wonderful Boss, more than twenty years’ ago, is to have a weekly plan.  The plan doesn’t just help with the shopping, it does away with the “What the f…. are we having for supper?” when I’m eventually lured from the office with the promise of a large spritzer. Occasionally, the Boss does allow me, at the end of a long day, to have said spritzer in the office… The plan is a simple one – just the headlines – and it lives on the fridge.  It also helps to keep track of social engagements, my business trips and ensures that the Husband won’t starve when I’m away.  This week’s one is below: Weekly plan Another essential item in my life, which also lives on the fridge, is the shopping list:  every time a grocery item runs out or a new one is opened, it’s written on the notepad.  The Husband, who usually does the shopping (lucky me) then adds, subtracts and translates that into something that makes sense to him. This week’s schedule has a little less variety than usual because I’ll be away;  certain meals have been planned to “stretch”.  One that stretches very easily is cottage pie with butternut and spinach topping.  I shall make a large batch of the various bits tomorrow, and portion them and freeze a couple:Spin_Bnut_cottage_pieMay2105 So we will have comfort food ready when we come home from the pub tomorrow evening, and for the Husband while I’m away. Oh, and see, he’ll be eating really healthily (and in heaven) while I’m away:  hamburger and chips!  The hamburger patties I make and freeze and the chips, well, he had years of practice before I arrived on the scene and makes them perfectly. So, the kitchen is this cook’s paradise;  my happy space when I leave my office and what has been, of late, a bit of a loony bin! © Fiona’s Favourites

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