Adventures in Bachelor Cookery, part 0: Preface

Well, where do I start...?

While I was growing up, I was fortunate enough to have a mother who had a reasonable capability with pots, pans and traditional English "home cooking". Granted, she only cooked meat "well done" (as that was how she liked it) and wouldn't cook interesting things like whole trout as she "didn't like the way it looked at her". Nonetheless, she was deft enough with pies, pastries, curries (mmm, maybe a bit ahead of her time there in 1970s South Cheshire), roasts and veg (which at least she didn't boil into tasteless mulch, choosing to leave some flavour and texture in them) to keep me sufficiently well fed that I grew up to a height of 6'4" and eventually ceased to be hugely out of proportion.

However, she refused to teach me to cook. My father didn't know how to cook either, and even if he did, I'm certain my mother wouldn't have let us loose in her kitchen. You get the idea.

They're both dead now, so they can't teach me anything about cooking (or anything else) anyway.

After heading off to University knowing how to cook precisely nothing, I've survived for the better part of 16 years on things out of packets, supermarket ready meals, take-aways, and the produce of pubs and restaurants.

Then, after a few years, I got a girlfriend. She still hasn't moved in full-time - even after 11 years and counting - however she deigns to spend a few weeks a year over here with me. She's got a few signature dishes too, and IMHO they are rather more creative than what my Mum used to serve up with the exception of the curries - although as Jasmina (the girlfriend) hails from Bosnia and still spends most of her time in Sarajevo, her idea of "good home cooking" is rather different to what my mother's would have been, anyway :-).

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate good food. I even managed to dine at the French Laundry (with Jasmina) in 2003, so it could be argued that "most food is downhill from there". Having travelled around a bit, my list of favourite dishes is pretty eclectic. Trouble is, by the start of 2006, I didn't know how to cook a single one of them.

Having gone to the lengths of moving house to try to get some of my life back by being closer to work (as well as providing a more pleasant living environment for Jasmina, in the hope of her staying over here for longer), I now have a bit more time on my hands. I've also been figuring out such fundamental things as chopping and slicing while she's been over here, by doing the "useful boyfriend / magician's apprentice" thing and wielding a knife while directed about how much of what to cut, and how.

Time, I think, to get some of that "home cooking" feeling back. I decided to do so, as a New Year's Resolution.

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