Thursday, 14 May 2009

learning how to cook

amwas a horrible cook. Growing up, my stepfather was the chef (as he had owned several health food restaurants before, he was pretty darn good at it). As a result, we had delicious and nutritious meals plopped in front of us, day in and day out. Score! But, that also meant I never ever learned how to cook for myself. That was okay for the first two years of college. Living on campus meant I had to pay for 'meal points' and eat in the dining halls. Hey, that's fine with me! The big test came when I went to Edinburgh to study for my third year. Huh. I have to make my own food. How does that work? Well, it didn't. As my flatmates will confirm, my third year at college, I lived on cereal, Guinness and cheese on toast, with some Diet Coke thrown in for good measure. And while I lost 15lbs (wahey!), it was probably due to malnutrition rather than any amazing lifestyle improvements.

This continued on for my final year at college (I did improve slightly - I could now cook rice, pasta and occasionally chicken). I moved back to Edinburgh, and met The Man of My Dreams (R). Suddenly, I didn't just have to cook (ha) for myself, I had someone to share meals with. At first, it was great, because he offered to cook all the time (real meals for the first time in 2 years probably contributed to my stone weight gain - that and being in lurve). But then I realised I was going to have to start cooking myself *gulp*.

R's favourite story is the time I offered to cook dinner and shoo'ed him away and said, 'I'm FINE'. Two minutes later, I had to ask him to come in and show me how to chop an onion. Yes, I had never before in my life chopped an onion.

Luckily, I slowly but steadily began learning how to cook. It really was a completely new experience to me. I was a stickler for following recipes - because lets face it, you can't go 'off book' unless you know what happens when you go 'on book'. And I didn't. I didn't have a clue how long it took to boil an egg, or roast vegetables, or cook beef. So if a recipe said 'fry for 10 minutes' I was fine, but god forbid it said 'roast until tender'. ??!?!?!?

Now, 3 years on, I have come to the realisation that I finally know 'how to cook'. I still follow recipes, but know what I like, and how to change recipes to suit my needs. I can create a meal using leftovers and bits and bobs, off the top of my head. When I go to the shops, I don't need to cart around books with me, because I know what goes into a home cooked meal. It's such a liberating feeling, and I've been really lucky to have R support me along the way (even with not so yummy results!).

Last night was a prime example of my confidence as a cook. I was following a recipe for 'Prawn and Rice Salad', but realised a) we didn't have rice and b) I don't like raw courgettes. So instead, I used what we had and adapted the recipe and BOY OH BOY was it yum.

I soaked some lemon and coriander couscous in hot water. Then I fried up the diced courgettes, and threw in the prawns to warm them up. Combine the prawns and courgettes with the couscous, add some lemon juice and pepper, and serve on a bed of rocket, topped with torn basil and a little bit of olive oil. YUMMY!

Next on my list is following in Leashie's footsteps and learning how to bake!


  1. Dude, what's funny is that I was totally going to write a blog on cooking tonight too! And instead of learning how to cook 'off book' it was going to be 'on book' since for the first time I am actually using recipes. If only you joined me and Artie for our nightly dinners, you could have bypassed those 3 years of having Ronan cook for you!

  2. i'm inspired! i hope i can have a fairy tale cooking story like yours one day!