Plantain? Not a banana?

Hard, tricky to peel
Plantain? Not a banana?
Cook. Do not eat raw

Thank you everyone, for your kind words of advice on how to resurrect my bananas, and the lovely fruit-inspired haikus.  Sadly, they are beyond hope; it is now 17 days since I bought them and they are still rock hard.

Now searching for plantain recipes – I hate waste…

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What’s cooking? Hash cookies?

Well not real hash cookies of course – although apparently that’s what my character in The Memory of Water remembers eating during her misspent youth.

I thought today I’d point you to a recipe that I’ve been using for a while now – Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies – made using condensed milk, which makes them fabulously melt-in-the-mouth chewy.  I normally make a double batch of these; just make up the dough with a full tin of condensed milk and double the other ingredients, adding whatever flavourings you have to hand.  My favourites are any kind of chocolate, with nuts such as almonds and hazelnuts thrown in whole, and Children of Mine like raspberry and white chocolate.

I was going to make some of these cookies today, but didn’t.  If I have time, I may make some tomorrow, after church, before rehearsal and probably whilst cooking my Mother’s Day roast for myself. 

Notice I don’t follow the recipe exactly, because as I’ve said before, I just don’t.  Not very often.  Now I’ve been cooking for The Family for this long, I adapt things to fit with what I’ve got left lurking in the cupboard or fridge. 

Like last week.  In-Laws of Mine were over to babysit.  Husband of Mine was away and I, as usual, had a rehearsal to go to, as well as a meeting at school about the dangers of the internet for children (Lesson 1: Don’t Let Them Read Your Blog). The meeting started at 6pm so it was easiest to invite them over for supper as well.

Of course, things had gone a bit pear-shaped between inviting them and me actually realising that it was a Tuesday, and on Tuesdays I don’t have time to cook unless Husband of Mine is around to do the collection of Son of Ours from Beavers.  So Grandpa was duly despatched to do the pick up while I frantically tried to finish the pasta bake I was preparing for supper.

Pasta bake is my ultimate convenience food.  Convenience in the fact that it will contain ingredients that possibly aren’t destined to be combined in this way, but nonetheless are happy to suffer the indignity of being chopped, fried, mixed with pasta and whatever sauce ingredients I have to hand (usually based on crème fraîche or tomatoes) and then given 20 minutes in a hot oven.

So on offer this particular night was cold chicken left over from the roast on Monday (yes, I often do a roast on a Monday, particularly if I am rehearsing on the Sunday), to which I added a yellow pepper, a courgette, onions and some green beans.  Only I’d run out of time, so embarrassingly, I had to ask Mother-in-Law of Mine to finish off the meal that I had invited her over for. 

She said to me, thinking I was probably following a recipe, “What do you need me to do?”

To which I replied, “Don’t know really, oh, just bung that in there when it’s cooked, then add that, stir it around a bit, stick it in a dish and bake until it’s done.”

She laughed, and said, “Do you remember, years ago, you used to phone me up for advice on cooking and then get really cross when I gave you vague instructions like that.  Now you’re doing it to me!”

True.  Maybe I’m turning into Mother-of-Law of Mine.

Dinner for Eight

I thought I’d have a day off today. From blogging, not from life. Friends are coming round tonight for dinner, but I had no ingredients to make anything with this morning, as I was waiting for my supermarket delivery to arrive. I love Internet shopping. Except at times like this, when I booked a delivery that was really too late in the day for my needs, but that was preferable to dragging Children of Mine around Sainsbury’s in half term when they’d really rather be doing other things (and really so would I).

Anyway, the shopping arrived almost as soon as I had finished typing the paragraph above, so I set to work.

Thinking about my cooking style whilst I’m slaving over the proverbial hot stove, I realise I don’t really have one. The friends coming to dinner tonight are all fab foodies in their own very distinct ways. I have come to two conclusions this afternoon: 1) I’m not very good at desserts, and 2) I can’t bring myself to stick to a recipe.

My menu for tonight looks like this:

To begin:

Olives
Any Pringles that are still left in the tube
Some other shop-bought delicacies for munching pre-dinner
3 slices of left-over pizza from the kids’ tea

I came to another conclusion some years ago that I couldn’t be arsed to do starters any more.

For the main: Chicken Cacciatore. Now here’s where I can’t stick to the recipe as I tend to think ooh, that doesn’t look enough, I know, I’ll add more tomatoes/wine/peppers or whatever else I have to hand. Then I’ve been messing around with the cooking instructions so have ended up roasting the chicken first because I hate standing over a frying pan to brown meat. I’ve sautéd the vegetables separately, and then poked the roasted chicken in amongst the sauce – based on a quick Internet search of different versions of the recipe, so who knows what it will end up like?

To accompany I am doing mini roast potatoes (my favourite), have made focciata and will serve up a green salad. From a bag.

For dessert:

This is where I really fall down. Most of my desserts taste great, again though the recipe is never quite followed to the letter. Tonight I will be serving my version of tiramisu, following the simple recipe taught to Son of Mine by one of the friends coming tonight. In fact he helped me make it. Trouble is, I can’t stand coffee, so I spent ages trying to find an alternative to this and settled on raspberry and chocolate. Mmm, it’s another experiment though – but I’m sure it’ll be fine.

Here’s a couple of photos to accompany this gourmet experience. I couldn’t face actually posting a picture of the food itself though, as, for reasons given above, it NEVER looks like it does in the recipe books.

The raspberry liqueur bottle - probably the prettiest thing in the kitchen

Son of Mine creating the raspberry and chocolate tiramisu