The passion for baking and cooking came to me about mid-life - so it’s easy to conclude that instead of paragliding, a Porsche or toy boys I developed an obsession with my kitchen. It wasn’t a conscious choice, it just happened - if decision was left to me, fast cars or cougar dating would surely have had an upper hand.
Cooking has been like a survival skill to me. My fixation with food, since forever, meant long instructive phone calls to my Mother, all the way across the country, when at uni. It meant coming up with highly inventive, negligible in cost student fodder: what do you do if starving/hungover/both and there’s only an onion in the kitchen?*
Having a go at cooking my Gran’s famous chicken soup - and failing miserably. Enjoying a dish in a fancy restaurant and trying to reproduce it at home - with abysmal effects. But gradually I’ve improved, at first just religiously following recipes and later sprinkling the dishes with salt, pepper and my ideas.
The Weather Man and I live in the south of England where the climate is dire and people don’t know how to cook**. But we still manage to grow*** some vegetables and surprisingly tasty tomatoes, subject to half-decent summers, which I turn into REAL FOOD.
Because that’s what needs to be said - it’s all real food on the pages. It had all been cooked and baked for human consumption; there is no cotton wool stuck at the bottom of the plates or hair spray coating the noodles. I cooked it, I snapped it and I ate it. No food is ever harmed or wasted in making the Fiend recipes.
The recipes are tried and tested in many cases, in some they are the first attempt that turned out fantastic. I don’t have any preferences for specific cuisines although I tend to cook predominantly European food with an occasional nod towards the Far East. But I have made the Finnish festive loaf, the Moroccan lamb, the Ethiopian bread and the like.
I intensely dislike modern day faddish and delusional food trends. Vegetarianism and serious allergies aside, as Michael Pollan advises ‘Eat food, not too much, mostly plants’. And why should we deprive ourselves of good things in moderation? Life’s more worth living with bacon in it.
*fried onion sandwich, that’s what. You’ve not lived unless you’ve tried it.
**they only watch cooking programmes
***okay - truth be told, it’s The Weather Man who does it all
Some factual points:
- I quote recipe source if it’s being reproduced.
- I use mainly metric measures: investing in a pair of scales is the first step to successful baking.
- I sometimes use US cups for measuring, when common sense dictates it; it’s easier to eyeball a cupful of raisins than 150g of them.
- I generally use widely available ingredients but some will be sourced from specialist shops like Asian stores or flour suppliers.