Saturday 7 April 2012

Life's Too Short to Stuff a Mushroom

There's a great post over at Nanny Goats in Panties at the moment. (Yes, I know - great blog name eh?). Because she didn't take Home Ec, (or Domestic Science as it was called at my English school), there are a lot of kitchen gadgets that completely stump her. Her commenters have very helpfully explained what all four sides of a square cheese grater do; I found it very enlightening too BTW.

I didn't take cookery either (let's call it like it is), and I really regret it. Unfortunately at my school, it was quietly implied that really academic girls didn't take cookery. Art was OK, but only if you were seriously intending to go off on a Bohemian tangent - to Art school. (I think two girls out of 60 were that brave.) Heck, I was going to do a Music A level (AP to Americans) but because I had my eye on a Law Degree, I was advised to think again because Music wasn't academic enough. Has anyone ever studied music seriously? It's harder than Physics fer cryin' out loud.

Anyway, back to cookery. Apart from never being able to tell why my baking efforts fail (think hockey pucks), my lack of basic cookery nowse (sp?) also has me shrinking from certain recipes purely because of the terminology.

Roux - If this word comes up anywhere in the instructions, no matter how easy the rest is, or how many of the ingredients I'm familiar with, the recipe is a complete no-no. Not until they come up with a reliable de-lumper anyway.

Scald - usually means "burn and start again" in my kitchen, so it's a no.

Reduce - ditto.

Au jus - has connotations of "reducing" so I don't go there either.

Carmelize/deglaze - both have resulted in pans steeping for weeks in the sink, so erm, no.

DeVein - usually results in me worrying that the shrimp in question isn't properly cooked and we will all die a horrible death. Only cooked shrimp for me thank you.

Mandolin(e) - I prefer to keep all ten fingers intact for as long s possible, so another 'no'.

Shirley Conran is reputed to have said "Life's too short to stuff a mushroom". I obviously whole-heartedly agree and would add that it's also too short to be faffing around in the kitchen when you clearly don't know what you're doing!

Know your limits!


  1. Histerical. I quit cooking a very long time ago. Unfortunately, you do have some little mouths to feed. I did have stuffed mushrooms once. The maker, who disliked cooking as much as I did, smugly announced: A box of stuffing mix made up, and put it in the mushroom caps with your little mellon baller thingy.

  2. I love reading cookbooks but I never make anything in them. Scalding is my favourite because that is what I mostly do..Heading over to see that other post..(BTW, I tried to click into your blog from your comment on American Resident and your blog site went nowhere because it was incorrectly spelled...I do that a lot...)

  3. Argh - I keep meaning to fix that. Thanks.

  4. I love cooking but get too impatient for half the things in the recipe books so nothing comes out as it's supposed to. I make the family eat it anyway...

    How does your lipstick smell??

  5. I was one of the handful of boys who took Domestic Science at my school. As well as cookery there was lots of info on nutrition which was interesting.

    (Is it not spelled "nouse", like mouse?)

  6. I did Music O' Level, which was looked down on as not academic, but - as you say - it was really really hard. Hard as in hard work, but also hard as in difficult to grasp.

    I think it's 'nous'. A translitteration of a Greek word. (Also did Greek O' Level). But confusingly looks like French.

    Love your definitions. I agree about 'roux'. Definitely intimidating.

  7. I never took Home Ec, either, and, as a result, had to learn to cook by trial and (mostly) error. MrL is, however, is the son of two fabulous cooks from Louisiana, and is a far better cook than I am (thank God.) Since about half of Louisiana cooking starts with, "First, you make a roux," I had no option but to learn.
    Fortunately for me, you can now make roux in a microwave. Really.

  8. Fabulous - I am predominantly estranged from my kitchen and tend to cook organically, i.e. anything goes!

    It's rather hit and miss as a cooking style and won't make it onto the Beeb as a bijou cookery show any time soon!

    i read Shirley Conran's Superwoman years ago and it became my bible - 'Life's too short to stuff a mushroom' has been my mantra ever since!


    Fhina X

  9. We did suffer from a lack of home economics at our school did we not, Toni? Did you know one of my other cousins, Anna, once cut out a huge number seven and stuck it onto a pie. The teacher had been telling the class about decorating pies with pastry leaves but Anna only heard the last part of the instructions which was, 'remember to put an odd number on the pie'.

  10. I love cooking even though we weren't allowed to do Home Ec if we had a brain at our posh girls' school. We weren't allowed to learn typing either lest we fall into becoming somebody's secretary, and not the arse-kicking Doctor/lawyer/politician we were meant to be. Pain in the arse really when I wanted to do journalism (and PR). I studied typing and shorthand when I was at Uni and has been the most helpful thing I've ever learnt. Ever.

  11. I do remember deliberately not learning to type and do shorthand so that I wouldn't end up with secretarial duties wherever I worked, (which happened to females a lot in every corporate field). I don't always use the right fingers to type but I'm pretty quick, so everything's OK. Cooking, however, is much more intuitive - and something I just don't possess much patience or talent for.

  12. My school (private, girls', very academic, horrible) didn't do typing at all, and cookery/sewing were a token gesture for the first 3 years but weren't available up to 'O' level. Only academic subjects were available! And then not even the ones I wanted to do, which were English Language (NOT lit - I don't do poetry and Shakespeare) and human biology. I so wish the internet had been around then, so that I could have found a oollege somewhere that did offer what I wanted.

    But still, I can cook reasonably well and sometimes make myself stuffed mushrooms! They're dead easy - remove stalk, fill with whatever you want, stick on a baking tray in oven for a bit, maybe drizzled with a bit of oil if needed. Job done.

    I'm not a technical cook though, so I don't do baking. Can't be arsed with all that weighing. I just make stuff up as I go along, and chuck in whatever I think will go. It usually works!

    Oh, and it is 'nous'. I didn't know it came from Greek though. You learn something new every day eh.

  13. Top of Miss Fishwick's Domestic Science class me one year. Okay well 3rd but it was nearly top. And that really looked good on the same report card where Ms. Kavanagh gave me a 9/100 as a final mark in Geography!
    I cannot cook to save my life either.
    I was pretty crap in school really looking back.
    Did manage to learn shorthand and typing tho'.
    ah happy days.


The more the merrier....

Blog Archive