I cook food a lot. I feed myself and two small people all day, every day and cook a meal for the whole family every evening. That is an awful lot of breakfasts and lunches and about a million snacks every week. Day in, day out. It’s the monotonous, get it on the table and hope everyone likes it and eats it, type of food and it can become a drag.
Then there is the kind of cooking that soothes my soul. It is done uninterrupted while listening to a play on the radio. The jam needs watching as the sugary bubbles fiercely cover the top, hiding the fruit. The cake must have it’s ingredients carefully measured and mixed to ensure it comes out at just the right texture. The chutney requires therapeutic, but seemingly endless amounts of chopping. Herbs and spices need adding, sauces need constant stirring and everything needs tasting and checking. I call it weekend cooking.
Having an allotment forces a certain amount of weekend cooking. Nothing comes in easy to deal with specific weight packages. Allotment produce comes with mud and gnarly bits that need dealing with and it come in gluts. Using it all, in different ways, before it spoils is part of the challenge and it forces me to indulge in the kind of cooking that I truly love.
Rhubarb and strawberries were the order of the day last weekend, providing us with a perfect teatime rhubarb polenta cake, spiced rhubarb sauce, to serve with roast pork and a plain, no-nonsense rhubarb crumble. The strawberries sang in the simplest, but most delicious ice-cream and my very first and may I say, perfectly set strawberry jam.
My spirits, as well as my belly, were well fed.