What's in this?: 29th October-4th November

posted Nov 23, 2011, 5:07 AM by Dinner Lady   [ updated May 9, 2012, 12:58 PM by Dinner Lady ]
When The Naughty Knight asks "What's in this?" he is frowning, nose screwed up, with a look of the upmost distaste, as if I might be serving him a tin of cold cat food.  When Maths Geek asks the same question, I know we are about to launch into an interesting culinary discussion, where I am also required to tell him how I cooked the meal.  Usually the reply starts with "Fry an onion....", which is what Gigi usually says when I ask her to share her recipes.  Frying an onion is certainly a familiar and integral start to most savoury dishes.

It's fun to play a game of guessing what ingredients are in the dish - both those that are visible and those that you can only taste or smell. Usually the boys are spot on, although they sometimes confuse their limes with lemons or their capers with olives. But I'll forgive them that.

We enjoy cooking, savoury and sweet, in this house.  Maths Geek often chooses to sit with me as I peel and chop, measure and stir, helping me taste as the food bubbles away. Chopping mushrooms finely for the Duxelles needed for Beef Wellington at Christmas.  Measuring out the seeds and dried fruit for our "raisin cereal".  

I remember, as a child, being allowed to conjure up all sorts of amazingly coloured menus, thanks to a very patient and generous mother who was not precious about the state of her worktops or floors.  Pink goo and sticky coconut balls were two creations that at once revolted my parents and delighted me.  But the weighing, mixing, heating, smelling, watching, waiting and (eventually) eating were a vital part of helping me become a confident cook. It allowed me to understand how food behaves.  When I was a young teenager, I embarked on the experiment of seeing if I could feed myself for a week for five pounds (see, I have always been up for a challenge!), again supported by Gigi.  I needed to plan, shop for and cook my meals, further strengthening my knowledge about food.  

Mrs Doubtfire, on the other hand, did not have much experience in his family kitchen as he was growing up so he did not share in these mysteries.  To this day, he does not understand the benefits of chopping vegetables finely, browning onions to bring out their sweetness or the need to add milk slowly when making a white sauce.  I am therefore determined to allow the children free reign in the kitchen so they can learn the chemistry of food first hand. I explain to Mrs Doubtfire that the flour over the floor, the treacle that sticks to the cupboard handles and the egg white that drips down the front of the cooker are all integral to raising capable cooks, and as such should be embraced.  At least that is my excuse for a mucky kitchen.    


Sat 29th - breakfast: boiled eggs and dippy toast 

          - lunch: chickpea, butternut squash and sweet potato soup, bread and cheese 

          - supper: pasta with prawns and squid in cream sauce followed by fish and chips 

Sun 30th - breakfast: blackberries in porridge

           - lunch: out to friends for roast 

           - supper: leek and potato soup 

Mon 31st - lunch: Spanish omelette using spinach 

           - supper: (kids) out for Halloween tea with friends 

                    (us) pasta with spicy bacon and tomato sauce 

Tues 1st  - lunch: left over soup 

           - supper: jacket potato, cauliflower cheese and garlic courgette 

Weds 2nd - lunch: sandwiches 

           - supper: (kids) badt-e-badt 

             (us) Thai fishcakes and salad, stewed plums for pudding 

Thurs 3rd - lunch: out for lunch at The Diner        

            - supper: Moroccan chicken from freezer, stewed plums for pudding 

Fri 4th    - lunch: salami sandwiches 

            - supper: (kids) duck stir fry, mashed potato and steamed courgettes 

             (us) roasted duck breast, potato dauphinoise and steamed courgettes, poached pears for pudding

Copyright: Dinner Lady 2011