Now that is something anybody who knows me would least expect to see me writing about. I am no cook. I have said that time and time again, here and in many other places. I could be a cook - a plain cook admittedly, nothing fancy - but I don't actually like cooking. I like eating. In fact, eating the results of good cooking is one of my favourite pastimes, but the fiddly bits and the clock-watching and the washing up are just all too much for me. It's much easier to pop down to the chippy or the Chinese take-away.
However, the times they are a-changing. At least, they have been this week.
Wednesday, late afternoon (or early evening, depending on your point of view). The Old Bat had prepared a smoked mackerel and sliced potato thingy which was baking in the oven.
"Could you check the potatoes and if they're nearly done, switch on the water for the broccoli?"
Of course, it wasn't really a question, more an instruction. Anyway, I obeyed and reported that I had started the water heating for the broccoli. It was then that She announced she didn't want any food. She stayed up most of the evening but did go to bed rather early.
Next morning, Thursday, she looked and felt rough, decided to stay in bed. She must have felt truly awful as she asked me to make an appointment with the doctor for the following day. I did that, but an hour later, after walking the dog, I rang the surgery to cancel the appointment and ask for a home visit, the OB obviously being too unwell to get to the surgery. Frankly, I was worried about pneumonia but the doctor assured me it is simply a viral infection which should clear itself in a few days with rest, paracetomol and lots of water.
This, however, means that I am chef de cuisine, even if it is a matter of feeding only myself.
There was one pork chop lying in the freezer on Thursday and the OB, ever worried about me feeding myself, suggested I should thaw that out for my dinner. Now, when it comes to cooking I am a fervent believer in the KISS principle, indeed, the simpler the better. I also believe that anybody should be able to cook by merely following the instructions in a recipe. For my part, I get lost trying to follow recipes more often than not, simply because I don't understand what is meant by some of the words used or the subtle variations in nuance. For example, I don't know if there is a difference between mixing, blending and/or melding. All the same, I duly turned to the library of cookery books that the OB has collected over the years and to which she seldom needs to refer.
You, dear reader, will probably be wondering why on earth I needed a recipe simply for cooking a pork chop. But you forget - or don't realise - that I was quite unaware whether that meat should be fried, grilled, baked, roasted (what is the difference between baking and roasting anyway?) or even boiled.
Delia (Smith, of course. Who else?) provided two recipes - but we were missing some ingredients for each. Then I discovered a tiny book of one-pot recipes - and there it was! My holy grail!!
So I duly peeled sufficient potatoes and sliced them thickly, placing them in an oven-proof dish to which I added a few slices of onion and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and a splash of wine. Cook at 200 for 20-30 minutes (until the potatoes start turning brown), then place the chop on top and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix grated Cheddar cheese, milk and whole-grain mustard. After the 10 minutes, pour the mixture on top of the chop and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes for the cheese to start bubbling, then serve. I did some French beans to eat with what I thought was a very tasty dish. And so simple that even I managed it!