Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Small portions

When it comes to writing I love small portions. My favourite genre is children’s picture books. This is not simply because of the size, of course, but I do enjoy being able to hold the entire story line in my head and reworking it in the middle of the night without the need of pen, pencil or keyboard. The same is true of my blog posts. I always try to keep them below 600 words. They’re more manageable that way. Unfortunately the opposite is true when it comes to cooking. Quantities seem to expand in my saucepan but this is not good.

At the moment I’m trying to adopt the style of shopping and cooking that would have been more familiar to Mum’s generation than to my own. When I was a kid Mum went to the shops every day. She bought just enough for that evening’s meal and there was rarely anything left over. Of course, Mum didn’t have the luxury of freezers or supermarkets plus she had no microwave to reheat food... and now neither do I. 

While Rod’s resistance is so low following his treatment there are a lot of restrictions on his diet. He’s not allowed anything raw so salads are a big ‘NO’. He’s not allowed soft cheeses, lightly cooked eggs, pâté, but the most debilitating rule of all is no reheating of food. I had never noticed how much reheating I did from chicken that becomes chicken soup to vegetables that turns into a tasty curry. The rest would be thrown into the freezer and packed in little bags with twist top ties. Nothing was wasted. 

Now when I make a soup I have to use half a carrot. Half a carrot! It’d be quicker to munch a quarter of a raw carrot each and be done with it. I only need to add one potato and a mere handful of assorted vegetables. All that chopping and cooking and swooshing up... it hardly seems worth it. Soups in my house have always been grand amorphous affairs, growing ever more voluminous with each extra carrot and leek that I chuck in... and, before my kids log on to comment, yes, my soups are usually a strange orange colour and just a tad gloopy but they’re always very tasty and highly nutritious [at least, that’s what I always used to tell them.]

My problem extends beyond soups. I seem to be incapable of buying and cooking the correct amount of meat for two portions of stew. Stew should be cooked long and slow in a vast pot with herbs from the garden and root vegetables for flavour. Who wants to do all that faffing about for one meal? 

And as for puddings! I’m now mixing 2 oz flour with 1 oz butter and 1 oz sugar to make a crumble which is sprinkled over one cooking apple. No more left over crumbles for lunch next day.

I know this stage of Rod’s recovery won’t last forever and compared to the fact that he’s still neither allowed nor strong enough to go out and about and mix with groups of people, the food issue is a minor irritation, but right at this moment it’s driving me crazy. 

So has anyone got any bright ideas for small portion cooking? All recipes and helpful suggestions gratefully accepted.