I am going to be brave this Saturday…

I have written before about cooking things that have been shot so I have been presented with the large breasts of geese (I was envious) small breasts of pigeon and no breasts of rabbit. I am comfy with skinning of animals and am at home with a carcass but I was always presented with meat and then had to work out what to do with it. I didn’t really use recipe books and more often than not curried whatever it was I had or stir-fried it. To start my challenge of cooking from scratch I do feel I’m going to have to become more acquainted with recipe books and for goodness sake it’s not as if we don’t have enough of them…

Hubbie loves Hugh Fernley Whitingstall’s ‘Meat’ recipe book. I bought it for him a couple of Christmas’ ago and he spent the entire holiday with his head in it totally engulfed in all that is meat. He would nod his head sagely, giggle a little and then read out the interesting fact that he had found interesting to a bemused me who hadn’t read the sentences before or after the fact and so were a bit puzzled. Still, lots of delicious MEAT meals followed and I am a firm lover of the recipes of H F-W.

I like some of Tana Ramsey’s recipes and so do the boys but my favourite is the ubiquitous St Delia. Her bread pudding is moist and delicious, her scones are easy and her chocolate mousse is to die for. I’ve not tried her savoury recipes but during this coming year I am sure I will give them a go. We have many other recipe books (like many other people who don’t seem to cook) –Nigel Slater, Gordon Ramsey and even Heston Blumenthal. During my challenge I’m not buying anymore until I know I need one for whatever reason. I’m going to fling open the pages of the books I have, cover them with the muck of hours of cooking and then evaluate them with the family for ease of recipe, taste and such like real cooks would…

To make any change work you have to think about why you’ve not done it before. Are we lazy? Do we lack the skills? Is it a time management issue what with a busy young family was it easier to buy simple to put together half processed meals? I’ve had to sit down and really think as to what my cooking ‘issues’ are to make sure my challenge is possible. I’ve come up with a couple of reasons as to why I’ve stopped cooking so much and time management is one of them but I think the main reason is that I know nothing about meat so just stick with what the supermarkets sell me.

Supermarkets are fab in many ways. All that you need (usually) under one roof with small children strapped into a trolley so going into individual shops, whilst pleasant on a summer’s day but not on a cold rainy day, is all totally unnecessary. We have been sold a dream of ‘getting it done as fast as possible as it’s all a bit of a bind’ by the marketeers. We are told that shopping is a horrible effort and so after a few years we now believe this. What we miss though from shopping is the personal interaction with individual shop keepers who know about their produce and can give us advice as to what to use for what outcome. I feel I have been de-skilled at knowing what to buy because of this. I know nothing about the best cuts of a cow (or any animal come to that) because I don’t use recipes and don’t need to know about meat. As a consequence shopping is repetitive and dull with no interacting save that at the checkout which is slowly being phased out with self-service tills. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy really, we’re told shopping is awful, we’re deskilled and because of this we then lack the knowledge to make our food more interesting and varied.

So part of my mission this coming year is cook more but that also encompasses being a more interesting cook. I want to learn about meat, seasonal food, what to do with leftovers and all the other things that make a good cook. The meal plan for next week has been sorted and although I am heavily relying on recipes for inspiration they are also teaching what I need to buy and my first stop is to step foot in our local butchers. Am I ready for it? (Are they ready for me??) I admit to being a little nervous; I have no idea what I’m asking for, what the language of meat even is (brisket? Rump? Loin? all have me shuddering) but I will walk in admit my failings and hope to make a relationship with the butcher where I can learn and he (I know it’s a he) can teach. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Wish me luck…


Click here for the weekly meal plan



About littlewhitecottage

Emma is a qualified teacher with 14 years of teaching in many different settings. From teaching adults and children at a music school to choosing to work in a demanding primary school that was failing (which meant moving from an outstanding school – her colleagues were aghast!) to running her own sewing business for the last 5 ½ years teaching all ages how to sew: Emma loves to teach.
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4 Responses to I am going to be brave this Saturday…

  1. Jen says:

    The best cookbook I have for this is the Readers Digest Cookery Year. It splits the recipes into 12 months (all seasonal produce) and has long and detailed explanations re parts of animals and basic techniques. I bought mine 2nd hand at a jumble sale and have seen it since, as it is such a classic (we had one at home when I was growing up). I would highly recommend it and happy to look out for it in charity shops etc for you if you want me to.

  2. Kimberly says:

    I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to this blog (already being a huge fan of your Sunday blogs!).
    I am a really enthusiastic and a competent cook, i am planning on taking on your ideas about using cash for food shopping and I had huge success meal planning last year….. For about 2 months!! It all fell massively by the wayside after that, I have a few things I would love to save for this year so I am really looking forward to using this blog to help keep me on track!
    Keep doing what your doing, it is brilliantly inspiring, happy new year x

  3. mel says:

    I have LOTS of cook books as I and my partner cook everything from scratch. We plan our meals every week, however sometimes we go off the rails in favour of a quick hit of a takeaway. I dont know why we do it really we can ‘do’ currys and chinese meals just as well. Anyway..two years ago we started growing our own veg. We have a large space at the bottom of our rather large garden which would just get waterlogged when it rained and the grass was ruined, so we shoved a load of raised beds in and got planting. Its become a bit of an obsession (same as the cook books really ) however, it has taught me to be grateful for the food that we consume and to treat it with respect. When you have stood and transplanted hundreds of seedlings into wherever you can fit them cause you cant bear the thought of ‘killing’ them … that’s when you realise you have a planting fixation 🙂 Im not saying its a bad thing cause I now have a freezer full of veg and a bed of curly kale left in the garden that refuses to STOP growing. Right Ill shurrup now…but I love this way of life and wouldn’t revert back to spending hundreds of pounds in supermarkets ever again…and especially not the Dark side (Tesco) for they, I believe would like to take over the world, and Im not having it 🙂

  4. Nichola says:

    Reader’s Digest ‘good food for less’ is a great book, helps with costing per meal, covers seasonal meals, how to freeze just about anything and lots of recipes. Another book which is good but old fashioned is ‘the dairy book of home cookery’ printed in 1977! It covers cuts of meat with diagrams, you can look up an ingredient you need to use and it will list all recipes use it, how to make all types of sauces from scratch. Like a say old fashioned cooking but has the basics. My mum found my copy in a second hand bookshop but I am have to give the isbn number if you or anyone else want to hunt it down.

    Good luck with the cooking from scratch and meal planning. I found meal planning definately helped reduce my wastage.

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