Jaqui's Daily Blog

Cooking Up a Storm

Mr B and I are a trifle obsessed with cookery programmes. The other day we spent so much time watching the episodes of Masterchef Australia - The Professionals which we had recorded earlier that we ended up with no time at all to plan a sumptuous meal for ourselves and had to resort to sausage, mash and baked beans.


We particularly like the Australian versions of cookery programmes which bring their own distinctive Down Under twang to proceedings. It is arguable that the actual cookery on the British Masterchef programmes is somewhat superior but for sheer watchability, you can’t beat the Aussies at this cooking game.


I didn’t have much chance to learn to cook when I was at school (my off-spring might well tell you that this was perfectly obvious to them when they were growing up.) At my school we were made to choose between the sciences or the domestic sciences at a very early stage and I went the academic route. This seemed sensible at the time but it has to be said that throughout the whole of my adult life I have never, ever needed to call on Boyle’s Law, Fermat’s Last Theorem or my in-depth knowledge of the Lifecycle of a Tadpole. Whereas increased ability at the cooker and the sewing machine would have been invaluable.


I did learn to make stuffed apples and cheesy jacket potatoes. I also sewed my painful way through a dirndl skirt made of a hideous yellow flowery material which my mother bought at a knock-down price (presumably because nobody else would be seen dead wearing anything made from it) on a stall at Romford Market. Neither learning experience has improved my life.


It’s not that I can’t cook – indeed, my pastry is a legend in our family.  My fingertip skills are par excellence, though I say it myself as shouldn’t.  I also made all my children’s clothes when they were very small, with the aid of my trusty Jones sewing machine which cost me £8, paid for weekly over a number of weeks from what we used to call the “Fammy Ally”- aka Family Allowance.  When looking through old photographs, I do tend to go all misty-eyed describing how I made this dress for a first birthday and those three matching frocks for a summer holiday in Bournemouth. The kids roll their eyes and ask, yet again, how could I ever have dressed them in such frankly dreadful clothes..


The Middle of the Darling Daughters went back to school this week. She asked me if I could send a letter to the Head Teacher, making up some excuse why she couldn’t come in – but I reminded her that she was the teacher, not one of the pupils.  Moreover she has had a wonderful, never-to-be-forgotten year off on maternity leave during which she brought Young Faris into the world and taught him the rudiments of Life On Earth.


One of her new responsibilities will be to be in charge of teaching catering. This despite the fact that (i) her specialism is PE and (ii) she has never taught catering before. However an excellent teacher like the M of the DDs can teach anything. What is more, like her parents, she watches a lot of Masterchef Australia.  What better preparation could there be?


I suggest that she could introduce skills tests, like chopping vegetables. Then I think of all those flying knives and small fingers. Blood on the floor would not be a good start to the new term. A better idea, perhaps, would be lessons in Survival Cooking – I have always thought it would be good if pupils left school with an armoury of, say, seven nutritional dishes which would see them through their adult life, even if they never learnt to cook anything else.  Stuffed apples and cheesy jacket potatoes wouldn’t be on the list, either. The Middle of the Darling Daughters doesn’t necessarily disagree with me but explains that the school curriculum is already set so she and her class will be making scones for their first lesson.


I remember Mr B making scones for the first time. So chuffed was he with the success of his baking that he hot-footed it round to our neighbour with a plate of two scones, one for her and one for her fella.  She was inordinately pleased with his gift because, excellent cook that she is, nobody ever felt confident enough to make her a present of their culinary efforts. 


No such reticence from my Mr B. However, delicious though they may have been, they were the last scones he has ever made.


I think it’s called resting on his laurels...

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Latest comments

23.04 | 20:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

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