T'eyla Minh (teylaminh) wrote,
T'eyla Minh

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Delia Smith and other stories...

I did a quick google search this morning to see if the BBC site had a copy of Delia Smith's easy shepherd's pie recipe from her latest 'cheats' series. Not because I don't know how to make shepeherd's pie, but because I happened to catch that particular episode and decided to follow her suggestion of using frozen mash to put on top. Not because I can't make mash, but because it's bloody impossible to get it on top of the meat layer without it going horribly wrong.

(The reason for making shepherd's pie is because my grandmother and uncle are coming for dinner on Friday and it's quick, easy and traditional, and there's plenty of it. And I can make the basic bit before she arrives then shove it in the oven to finish it off, which makes things a lot easier, obviously.)

Anyway, Delia's recipe involved tinned mince, etc, as did the rest of the series. In trying to find the recipe I found instead a deluge of shocked and ranty reviews complaining about how she's being irresponsible.

I have to admit - when I heard about her new series I was a little dubious myself, what with every other TV chef pioneering natural ingredients and organic food. (I deliberately missed the two shows by Jamie Oliver and that other bloke about battery chicken farming because, quite frankly, I can't afford to be put off buying them. I would quite happily buy organic food if the supermarkets didn't charge extortionate prices for it; for now I will stick to my two-chickens-for-a-fiver...) I mean, there are plenty of ways to 'cheat' at cooking without using stuff out of tins.

I think some of the criticism is misguided, though. The way I see it, Delia is giving people a good basis to start experimenting on their own. If you can make a shepherd's pie with tinned mince and instant mash, it follows that you can learn to make one from actual ingredients. For goodness' sake: at Uni I lived on pasta and frozen food; today I can make a roast dinner from scratch, or a bolognese. Learning to cook is not, in fact, the scary, terrifying world I once thought it was; and if I can do it, so can everyone else. (More to the point, the only thing Paul could cook before we moved to the flat was a fried breakfast, and now he can do a roast dinner, too. :P)

From what I can remember of 'Food Technology' at school, they didn't actually teach us very much about making things, only about nutrition. Which is, of course, important, but doesn't really set one up that well for fending for oneself when the time comes. We made, off the top of my head, scones, "something with a sauce" and instant custard. (And I hate custard, so that one went right over my head.) For year 9, we had to make our own recipe/menu depending on our brief, and my mashed potato was simultaneously lumpy and runny. I think I also tried to make my infamous oaty biscuits for the first time, only to have to shape them with cookie cutters to hold them in place so they could be photographed, because they didn't stick together in the oven. (They never do, in fact...)

Hardly surprising I chose textiles for GSCE, really. ;)

These days, learning to cook seems to depend on parents. I don't think anyone can learn to cook from a book or a television programme because it needs the experience and knowledge of an actual person. And really, once you have some basic knowledge (I swear by "you can fry anything" if all else fails), the rest comes naturally.

So. Whilst Delia's timing may not be that good, she does make some valid points. And at the very least, my shepherd's pie will be well-presented. I don't mind it looking messy if it's just for me and Paul, but I'd rather it look impressive for guests. ;)

Talking of scones, actually, I made some on Sunday for the first time since the above-mentioned incident at school, which was probably first or second year. (I forgot to add the sugar; the teaching assistant whipped out a mixer and helped me. :P) I think I'm getting better at dough-related cooking, but need to make them bigger as they're all about 1.5" across. :) Still, lovely with butter. I'll make some larger ones and get some cream to whip so we can have them with jam.

And whilst I'm here, I shall make a shopping list for Friday's meal.

  • lamb mince
  • frozen mash (Aunt Bessy's)
  • carrots & swede
  • broccoli & cauliflower
  • peas?
  • cheddar

That should do it. I'll probably chuck some garlic in because we bought four ENORMOUS bulbs from the local grocer so will be eating it for the next year... good job I like garlic, really.

Swimming last night actually wasn't too difficult, other than that one point halfway across the pool where the sun is blinding. Collisons ahoy. The only annoying thing is that Alison and I had to cubicle-share on arrival because, even though people aren't allowed in until 6.00pm, they're apparently starting to queue at 5.20. Grr. We had to wait until 6.30 to get in. I suspect this is because it's OMG summer so people are either (a) cooling down or (b) learning to swim in time for a holiday. Irritating. It's usually quite full just after Christmas when all the good intentioning people turn up, but they tend to disappear after a few weeks. I wish they'd refurb the other pool already. There is scaffolding up outside, which is promising...

So, we may be doing alternative activities for the summer if this keeps up. Which is kind of annoying, because swimming + summer = nice. Obviously, everyone else thinks so, too.

And another thing - why do people just STAND in the middle of the pool? They can stand by the edges, but nooo, they have to stand right where I'm trying to swim. I got completely trapped at one point by two slow-moving swimmers and a random standing person. Gah.

Anyway. Enough moaning. I will get a bike and cycle, ohyes. Unless, like all my other good intentions, it falls flat on its arse.

Oh yes, and we watched Sweeney Todd last night. :) That striped bathing suit still kills me...

I shall now sign this one off before it gets any rantier.
Tags: get fit & lose weight, love for food, ponderings, swimming
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