Did you want to lick the spoon?

If I can’t cycle, I might as well cook. Frankly, the fridge and freezer were looking a little bare and, with my husband at home for yet another week (4th consecutive!), I felt the need to prepare myself for the onslaught.

I was expecting guests this weekend: my Swiss friend and one of his cycling friends whom I met when I stayed in Lugano in September. So that would have been three boys to look after, instead of just the one. However, with rain and snow forecast, they wisely took a rain check. Leaving me with some additional time on my hands.

I’m now feeling tired but satisfied. Planning and preparation is the key to successful cooking. You knew I was going to say that, didn’t you? I like to read through my recipes until something catches my fancy, I usually have a pile of cookery books on the bedside table, along with a couple of cycling books. Maybe I’ll have a hunt in the store cupboard for inspiration. Having decided what I’m going to make, I’ll then list out everything I’ll need and check that I’ve got enough ingredients. If not, I may make a substitution. For example, the other day I didn’t have any all purpose flour, so I made muffins with chestnut flour and cinnamon – delicious. Failing which, it’ll be a quick trip to the shops.

I will then faithfully prepare, chop, weigh all the ingredients I need for the recipe. By and large I will follow the recipe, but it depends on the author of the cookery book. Some I follow slavishly, others I use as a guide. I’m always happy to experiment.

Of course, cookery’s a dangerous business. If you don’t concentrate, or don’t have the right tools, it’s easy to cut or burn yourself. Today, I was hit by a flying lid! I was prising off the lid of a tin of treacle (for the gingerbread cakes) when it shot off, just like a champagne cork, hitting me on the neck and covering my hair with treacle. I now have a very strange mark on my neck, my beloved says it looks like a love bite from the Incredible Hulk.

I find that once you get up a head of steam in the kitchen, it’s just as easy to bake three (or four or five) cakes, casseroles, pasta dishes etc as it is to do one. As you know, I like to be prepared for anything, including the odd unanticipated guest. This allows me to whip up something delicious at a moment’s notice. My motto is “never knowingly undercatered”. 

I’ve also prepared the chocolate frangipane for the galettes des rois that I’m making for Tuesday evening and made some Rocky Road for the kids. I have significantly pre-prepared tomorrow’s roast lunch which I can just pop in the oven when we get back from the pointage. Yes, my beloved is in for a treat: rare roast beef, potatoes dauphinoise, carrots and broccoli followed by one of his all-time favourites, bread & butter pudding. 

The bread & butter pudding requires a large number of egg yolks in order to have a tremblingly light egg custard pillowing the brioche bread. I’ve made one of my favourites with the left over egg whites: coconut financiers. These are very accommodating. I’ll freeze a batch and de-frost as required.

Come what may, I am going out on my bike tomorrow, even if I have to use the mountain bike. There’s only so much time I can take indoors on the home trainer, plus the freezer and fridge are now full, full, full.

Postscript: It stopped raining 3 hours ago and the roads are starting to dry out. It’s looking positive for cycling tomorrow morning.

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