In pursuit of my ceaseless quest to transform myself into a Domestic Goddess, I am currently simmering a batch of leek, potato and onion soup on the hob of my stove. I thought you would be impressed.
You might be marginally less so when I explain that my main motivation for Winter Soup-Making Activity on this hot summer's day was less the desire to be transformed and more the fact that I had two lonely leeks left over from
my Lamb and Leek Stew (which Mr B, my main meal tester, confirmed as delicious). When it comes to wasting food, I am My Mother's Daughter. Living through the War Years, my dear Mum, Dolly, never wasted anything. Or, at least, not until it had spent a week
in the refrigerator, in a small cup or dish, waiting to be needed for some culinary experiment. Sorry, experience.
Open the fridge door of my childhood and there you would almost always find a small bowl containing
two tablespoons of rice pudding, left over from some now-forgotten dessert, or a slice and a half of Spam, curling ever so slightly at the edges. Or perhaps a single tinned peach, with or without a splash of Carnation Milk. Those of you unlucky enough not
to enjoy a Fifties childhood may wonder what I am on about. Others, of my Great Age, will doubtless be nodding in recognition of Times Gone By.
The upshot of this bout of reminiscence is that I found myself
googling recipes for leek and potato soup, despite Mr B's plea that, if I am that desperate, we could simply buy the same variety of Country Garden soup on our next trip to Sainsbury's. Oh, He of Little Faith!
first issue came in trying to decide between the Divine Delia or the Exuberant Jamie, both of whom had posted recipes on-line for me. It is possible that they weren't only thinking of me, but I always think it is good practice to assume otherwise. The problem
with Jamie is that he wants me to add two sticks of celery which I do not have just at the moment. If I follow in Jamie's footsteps, I shall have to take an extra trip to the Co-op to buy celery. In itself this, being good exercise, would not do me any harm
- but I am cute enough to reason that, after chopping up two sticks for my soup, I will have a fair amount of left-over celery to dispose of. Which in turn will mean googling recipes for celery dishes and probably having to invest in many more ingredients.
Frustrated, I turn to Delia who agrees with Jamie that leek and potato soup is a classic - satisfying, nutritious and an absolute winner. She wants me to add cream or creme fraiche before serving but I only have natural
Greek yoghurt in the fridge and I am not sure if this could be considered an effective substitute.
In desperation, I seek advice from Andy. No, I have absolutely no idea who Andy is though apparently he lives
in Northamptonshire. What I like about Handy Andy is that he only wants me to use ingredients I already have. Well he does say I could add a sprinkling of chopped chives or parsley as a garnish before serving but adds the magic words "if you wish." Andy, you
note, is far less demanding than either Delia or Jamie though not, I imagine, so famous. Or so rich.
A couple of days ago I had another opportunity to play at being a Domestic Goddess when the Meals and Wheels
Club convened at ours. I had planned a Salmon Tray Bake (which I have made once before) and a tropical version of an Eton Mess (which I haven't made before but looked easy-peasy. Even for someone still falling short of DG status.) I estimate that I was about
The Salmon Tray Bake took no time at all to make and, eaten in the sunshine of the back garden, was a perfect choice for a summery lunch. Sallie went as far as to say she would make it for
her sister-in-law when she comes to stay shortly. This is Praise Indeed. I took myself off into the kitchen to whip cream, crush meringues and assemble The Mess. Sallie followed me into the kitchen to continue our chat. Which is where Things Started To Go
Keen to demonstrate my ability to cook and chat at one and the same time (which, to take Nigella as an example, appears to be a pre-requisite for Advanced Domestic Goddess Status) I doled out cream
and natural Greek yoghurt in liberal quantities without stopping to check the recipe. Consequently my tasty mixture of tropical fruit became indistinguishable, one from the other. You couldn't tell your mango from your pineapple, your kiwi fruit from your
banana. The menfolk maintained, stoutly, that (i) you can never have too much cream and (ii) it was, after all, meant to be A Mess, but methinks they did Protest Too Much.
Our friend Jim, on hearing this story,
declared himself a grumpy type of cook who banned company from his kitchen when engaged in the Culinary Arts. My trouble is, I like to chat even more than I like to cook and there's no way I am going to pass up on a gossip with Sallie in the kitchen. Possibly
I am being too ambitious to even contemplate reaching Advanced Domestic Goddess status, a la Nigella.
Still, I have served up my soup and Mr B has declared it extremely tasty. So much so, that he has not even
had to add any salt and pepper. Knowing how liberally Mr B usually applies pepper over his every meal, this could mean that my soup is a trifle on the peppery side for normal mortals. I check with Handy Andy who says that just a pinch of pepper is required.
Aspiring Domestic Goddess that I am, I have taken that with an (Extra) Large Pinch of Salt.