Nigella? Not likely!


I know some of you have probably made the assumption that I’m a domestic goddess, which I have recently learned does NOT mean that you have the power to smite cleaners if they refuse to obey your every whim.  But, and I’m trying hard to let you down very gently on this point, there’s a chance I might not be that* good at cooking.  I can make things that I like.  As  vegetarian, I am fond of vegetables; which is handy!  I love a dish of veg, roasted with garlic, pepper, olive oil, maybe a little coarse salt to finish it off.  Lovely! To me! And to nobody else in my house!!  So I struggle to make things they like too and end up in dullsville with baked potatoes, oven chips, pasta that isn’t allowed to have much flavour for fear of it being detectable by fussy children.  If I had some skill, I could probably find something we’d all like.  But I haven’t.

I can do some things in the kitchen, to be fair.  I’m not entirely useless.  I can balance, plank-like on my hands with my elbows dug into my hips and I’m reasonably certain that I’ve done that in a kitchen.  Yes, I can definitely remember having my head right next to the fridge.

If sugar is your poison, I can help you out there, as I can make reasonable cakes in various styles and flavours and, in all modesty, I decorate them very well as only a person who longs for fine art but only has sugarpaste can.  I take out my frustrated desire to be Michelangelo on a covered Madeira like nobody else I know.  My sugarcraft is one of the very few things I do well and in fact, one time, I briefly came 1st, 2nd and 3rd in a cake decorating competition.  When they were giving out the prizes the judge realised they were all for me and changed her mind, demoting my ‘3 Little Pigs’ cake to 4th, in favour of somebody’s ‘Where’s Wally, sitting on a globe’ cake.  It was a bit embarrassing, to be honest, as much for ‘Where’s Wally Lady’ and the judge.  We could see the other contestants and audience looking at each other in disbelief.  The cake that came first had a painting of David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane on it and was a 21st birthday cake for my nephew.  He loved it and I was pretty proud of it.  I came away from the competition experience with 2 books, which went on eBay, the following week because I already had them, and a couple of certificates, which I think I might accidentally have left in the books I sold on eBay because I don’t remember seeing them since.  I didn’t enter any more.  

I digress somewhat.  My main reason for mentioning cookery in the first place is that I now have a son who is a chef and I need a favour from him.  He’s only 18 but has been doing various kinds of cookery for years: GCSE, school cookery competition team (for a boys’ school they were pretty serious about their cookery) and then college and work placements, then real work so now he’s a chef.  He helped me make the Easter roast, in as much as he folded some tinfoil, put it over the roasting dish and added some water.  I was glad he didn’t help any more than that because he has an insatiable urge to flambé everything and I end up spending more time waving magazines at the smoke detector than I do actually getting any cooking done. Not to mention the time spent cleaning spattered fat off everything including the ceiling.  BUT, you say, if you don’t want his help with cooking, what do you actually want?  Well, I just want this; I bought a bag of onions and I’d really like him to chop them, bag them and freeze them for me.  That way, when I next make the Pasta-à la-bland, I don’t have to run the risk of looking like I poked myself in the eye with the corner of a brillo pad repeatedly for half an hour as a dare.

(*am definitely not by any stretch of the imagination any good at cooking)