Before anyone starts nagging me for being an ungrateful daughter, me and my mum love each other dearly. We just don't always see eye-to-eye. Take, for example, me mentioning that I eat my breakfast at my desk. "God that irritates me" says my mother. "People stinking the office out with their porridge; they should just stop being so lazy and get up half an hour earlier and eat at home." So any sympathy I would be looking for from her on how I get up at 4am three days a week to go running; before I drive 45 minutes to work to start by 7am; so I can hopefully get to spend some time with her precious grandchild at the end of a long and stressful day evaporated before I'd even opened my mouth to defend myself.
Apparently, I have no self control either because my mum, who leaves home at 7am after getting up at 5.15 (why, why, why???) and eating her breakfast at 6am, is perfectly able to get through an entire morning of work and not eat anything else until 1pm. If I eat at 6am, I'm hungry again by 9am.
We meandered on to talking about cook books and food. I was shocked to discover that she reckons she only owns three cookery books. Having spent the rest of the day thinking about that statement, I know it's not entirely true. But if we're talking about ones published in the last twenty years, then the figure is probably quite accurate.
She mentioned she has never cooked anything from any of them aside from the "Hairy Bikers Stollen Doorstop" that she made for Christmas. "That's exactly why I'm doing this" I said. "I own over fifty recipe books and whilst the spines are well-cracked, most of them are pristine inside" I then asked why she's never cooked from them. The answer included phrases such as "I can't be bothered after a long day at work" and "I can't be bothered at the weekend after I've baked all my bread and rolls for the week" and when I mentioned some of the really easy, healthy and tasty recipes I've tried of late she decried the lack of meat in my diet "I was bought up when you always had meat for every meal and despite it being so expensive, I refuse to believe that a meal is a meal without meat" (she's only 57!!) and then ticked off a long list of things she won't eat including beans (except green ones), pulses, sun-dried tomatoes, anything sweet with meat..... And she calls me fussy!
It saddened me in a way. I always had this idea in my head that she enjoyed cooking. But it seems like she finds it a chore, which is sad when she used to do this for her job. Then again, I'm sure analysing business practices doesn't have much appeal outside of the workplace. I suggested she try just one new recipe a week for a year. "No time" "One a month then?" "Can't be bothered. You won't persuade me". So I gave up.
Then I realised that despite over the past year, she's tried lots of the things I've made. The summer berry drizzle cake which I packed with the glut of raspberries from my garden last year; the healthy mac and cheese from a few weeks back; the Hummingbird Lemon loaf which is a staple in my cake repertoire when we have visitors; she made some funky baked salmon dish with Hellman's that she'd found a recipe for somewhere or another for tea on Friday night; and she's talking about trying the Lorraine Pascale Fish Cakes I made the other day. And the whole weekly bread baking ritual. She only started doing that regularly when I started baking my own bread last year. Stubborn as a mule, my Gran would've said. Lovely with it too though. I'll wear her down one day. And I've already told her that churros will be on the menu next time we visit.
So in a fit of feeling sorry for her Hairy Bikers' Cookbook which was almost condemned to the bin after the stollen disaster, I copied out a few recipes from there to add to this challenge. The first of which, I tried tonight. Having been stuffed to the gills at lunchtime with a turkey roast and the best apple and summer fruit crumble I've ever eaten (she's still got it!), I wanted a light-ish dish I could try this evening. I'm still trying to find something to wean the husband off of his need to have Sharwoods microwave pouches of Saag Aloo with his Mary Berry's chicken tikka and Dan Lepard Naan Breads and failing miserably. Until today with this tasty little curry.
Not being able to find the green chilli I knew was lurking in the fridge somewhere, I used a Scotch Bonnet instead. Thankfully, because I reduced the quantity, I didn't scald my mouth-lining whilst eating it. However. Beware. The book doesn't warn you that when you first add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli to the smoky hot pan that a) it spits everywhere and you're liable to pick up a war-wound or too if you're stood too close and b) it's likely to scald the lining of your lungs with the hot, pungent, spice it adds to the air in the immediate vicinity. I sounded like a sixty-a-day-woodbine-smoker by the time I finally got the tomatoes into the pan. But it was worth it. A definite keeper dish that I will make for the husband next time I do tikka. I'll just need to scale back the chilli for him as he's not into hot stuff (goodness knows why he married me then ;o)) but I think that it will hold it's own just as well with less heat.
From the Hairy Bikers 'Mum Knows Best' (I'll admit that sometimes she does - just not on the breakfast at work issue)
- 2kg white potatoes, peeled
- 200g white onions, peeled and sliced
- 50g fresh green chillies, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves
- 50g fresh root ginger
- 50g fresh coriander
- 150ml rapeseed oil, for frying
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 100g tomato passata
- salt and pepper
Cut the potatoes into small dice (about 1cm) and boil in lightly salted water until partly cooked. mix the sliced onions with the green chillies. peel and finely dice the garlic and ginger then add them to the onion and chilli mix. Was and chop the fresh coriander.
Heat the oil in a large pan until a blue haze appears. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli mixture. Fry for a few minutes then add all the remaining spices, tomato passata and a pinch of slat. Fry for a further five minutes. Add the potatoes and saute until all the ingredients have combined and the potato is cooked. Adjust the seasoning to taste and garnish with some fresh coriander.