Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Throwing Down the Gauntlet - to Myself!

I know I said I wasn't making any NY's resolutions, but I was inspired last night whilst in the grips of domestic despair. I may have blogged before about how difficult/ boring it is trying to come up with exciting, nutritious meals for a family, that don't take all day to cook. ( I don't like to do that - hats off to those of you who can cheerily spend an entire day at the stove. Seriously.) I took down my self-assembled recipe binder (oh, yes - it exists). Recipes that I myself, personally, under no duress, had culled from magazines and deemed Expat Mum - friendly. And don't underestimate the tallness of that order.

What was I smoking?

Now this binder is 20 years in the making, but still..... . What was I smoking?

Take for example the Baked Avocado with Bacon (Tesco's own on a laminated recipe card if you please). The fact that it calls for Tesco's Smoked Streaky Bacon makes me wonder. You can't get decent bacon in this country at all, never mind Tesco's own brand. Out. In the bin.

Then there's the 700 various recipes for chocolate brownies made from scratch. Not that I have anything against them (who would?), but I have found a recipe that resists the Expat Mum curse (ice hockey puck result) so why would I want to look further? I am not about to publish a book telling y'all that I tested "hundreds" of recipes to find the perfect one. No. I found one that works and when the urge takes me, it will do.

Baked Alaska - hah?!? Let's just say this; any recipe that ends with "Serve Immediately" gets binned. In our current house, which we gutted and re-built on the inside, the kitchen is in the basement for a reason. I don't need guests standing next to me, sipping a chilled Pinot, while they watch my hapless attempts at the stove. Nor do I need anything that cannot withstand a good hour's "warming" in the stove or a least an "Allow to reach room temp" when rescued from the freezer.

As for the blessed Delia's "Warm Poached Egg Salad with Frizzled Chorizo", all I can say it "I wish". A friend of mine has made it on several occasions and swears it wows her guests. Well, dinner party guests perhaps, but three kids - not so much. It actually sounds delicious, especially since Delia peppers it (excuse the pun) with friendly phrases like "Let it all bubble for a bit" - "for a bit", that's my kind of cooking. But there's a hint of it having to be served as it comes out of the pan and I'm afraid I don't do that. Ixne, as they say over here.

Anyway, "where is this going" you may ask. "Is Expat turning her blog into an anti-recipe blog?"

Well no; quite the opposite in fact. I was so disgusted with the amount of recipe books and magazine-culled recipes I ignore on a weekly basis, that I am challenging myself to make at least one new thing per week. This may or may not have something to do with the fact that the Ball & Chain and I watched a Pay-per-View "Julie/Julia" over the weekend, but all I'm saying is that the only way I can edit my vast recipe collection is to try them.

I won't bore you with the ones that worked, but if I have spectacular failures, (pretty much guaranteed) you will be hearing about them and there will be photos.

Oh yes, I'm serious about this.



  1. Hi, second attempt at adding a comment, so apologies if you get two coming along at once.
    Like your thinking, particularly when it comes to cooking anything which states 'serve immediately'. Many, many times I've made that mistake, and have been herding friends into the dining room, shouting, 'Its ready! It's ready! Hurry UP! Sit there! I said SIT!' Then I heave whatever it is I've cooked onto the table and serve, sweating and grumbling to myself.
    Will follow your lead and bin it!

  2. Now last year I didn't make any resolutions and have only just got round to it on my blog this year. But the year before I made a cook something from my vast collection of recipe books one which sort of worked, for a bit. Better than any of the other resolutions anyway! this is probably not unconnected with the fact that I like food. Good luck with it and I wouldn't mind hearing about the dazzling successes too!

  3. There's so much joy in cooking but it gets tedious - and fast! I have all these earmarked recipes to try "one day" but when I actually look at them, they're ridiculously complicated and/or the ingredients are expensive and hard-to-find. Nothing wrong with spaghetti on toast (or Heinz beans if you prefer)!

  4. I like the idea of an anti-recipe blog; I could add to it I am sure!

    I too watched Julie & Julia at the weekend - loved Meryl Streep/Julia but Julie Powell/Amy Adams was quite annoying. She was just so whingey!

  5. I so love Delia, have one of her books. I also stick to tried and tested recipes for the most with the odd new one thrown in here and there.

    Gill in Canada

    Haven't seen the movie, is it out on DVD yet?

  6. Expat Mum

    Add this one to your repertoire

    Beef bourgignon type stew

    In a massive saucepan turn the heat on and throw all these things in at the same time

    about 1kg of cubed beef (or lamb)
    a few chopped carrots
    couple of pieces of chopped celery
    a chopped leek
    handful of button mushrooms
    maybe chopped parsnip if you have it
    a squeeze of garlic out of a tube
    chopped onion
    some dried herbs - Thyme or rosemary or mixed or whatever
    2 tablespoons of plain flour
    a massive glug of oil or butter.
    Stir it all together then pour in a bottle of red wine. Lid on and leave on lowest heat for about 3 hours (It can easily be left for an hour longer or an hour less). I love this 2 hour margin for error.
    Serve with posh crusty bread from the bakery and lashings of wine for drinking.

    Perfect children's meal:
    Bean stew

    make a bolognaise (you, know the drill, mince, onions, garlic, tin of tomatoes)
    add lots of different chopped or tinned veg and make sure you add a few chopped potatoes. Then the piece de resistance add a tin of baked beans. Cook til potatoes are cooked then serve in bowls with tomato ketchup.

    I absolutely love a one pot wonder and these 2 are corkers.
    Get your pinny on, love.

  7. this is MY life story.
    same recipe book as you by the sounds of it.
    i loved julie and julia tho', wasn't that the best movie? i wanted to boil lobsters and sautee everything in lots of butter after watching that.

  8. My nutritious meals cook all day, in the slow cooker. Works for me, lovely smells wafting from the kitchen when I get home from work and minimal effort.

  9. I'm so against cooking a lot - I have about ten "easy" dishes that get rotated. I should probably expand my horizons a little, though. Good luck with your project - sounds like a great one!

  10. My New Years Resolution was to write in my diary every day.

    I was going to say that I was looking forward to seeing some of your disasters....... but thats not nice. I hope there aren't any.
    I often go to the fridge & look for things that need eating and try & make something interesting out of that! A challenge sometimes.

    Nuts in May

  11. My hubby does all the cooking and at least twice a week we have slow-cooker food that's marvelous. Jenny's recipes sounds great too and I love that she said "pinny" - not heard that for a while.
    I'm personally looking forward to the war stories. Bring them on!

  12. I have a bunch of Tesco's recipes - I should bin them I suppose! OTOH, one of them calls for Greek yogurt which was unavailable here for the longest time, but now we can find it easily.

    My FIL is under the impression that I NEVER cook, because DH is the one who cooks whenever we have guests. I put food on the table so we can eat, DH cooks.

  13. It's one of the saddest things about the US that you can't get decent bacon over there. I would have to have it imported by the truckload.

    I've been meaning to see that film. I like cooking sometimes, but it does get boring. I rarely use recipes though - more of a shove-it-all-in-a-pot or a stir fry girl.

    I'm looking forward to the disaster tales!

  14. Hehe! My post today is all about comfort foods which may just lead me to putting up my torad-in-the-hole recipe!

  15. Oops, that should read TOAD, of course!! Can you fix it for me? I blooming well hate typos!!

  16. I loved Julie/Julia way more than I thought I would. Thought Meryl Streep was terrific. I also love cooking but can completely understand how awful it must be to have to cook everday if you don't enjoy it. Looking forward to seeing what you create!

  17. Great comments and questions, which I will now try to address. Sorry for tardiness - lot going on at my end.
    - Not going to fix the torad-in-the-hole - in fact I am going to make up a new recipe for it!
    - Stir fry - mine always goes limp! Ooh err.
    - AA, yes the Ball & Chain is the show-off cook and I consider myself the default.
    Maggie - oh, there will be a show and tell of disasters. Probably frequently.
    - Clippy - those bloody lobsters keep trying to get out of the pan. Can't be doing with that! Plus, the Queenager would get all righteous with me!
    - Thanks for the recipes Jenny. Can you do them with white meat? Queenager is a red meat begetarian; whatever the heck that is.
    - Gill - not on DVD yet, but On Demand on telly.
    - And yes, Amy thingy's character was a tad annoying but I felt sorry for her a few times.

    Well, so glad you're all behind me on this. Tally ho! The ingredients for the first two are coming tomorrow (I can't be arsed to go shopping and it only costs $6 to have it delivered, just in case you think it's being hand delivered from Fortnum's or something!!!)

  18. Toni, Who knew your recipe collection could evoke such responses. Been menaing to comment since before Xmas. Married to a Makam and we lived many a year in Texas sans good back bacon. Still laughing at the furor your commentary on Green bean casserole caused :)

  19. Go Mum!
    I too have tried and tested my stove and oven with recipe failures and greats. My recipe book is filled with disasters that I had to re write especially when going from Aga to fan oven-yikes. Whats wrong with hockey puk brownies? The chickns love them! Good luck
    Mother Hen


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