I don’t know what it is recently, maybe I’m feeling a bit better in general or it’s that whole start new goals and get healthier with my eating and not have loads of rubbishy snack food that’s made me want to start making more food again. I’ve always liked cooking, not really baking on my own unless it’s carrot cake or cookies (mainly because they’re my favourite cakey things to eat and that I can actually make well without messing up something), but more savoury things and actual meals.
Recently, probably the last five or so years, I have become more interested in finding new recipes, I haven’t made many but I like looking for them anyway and finding out about food from other countries and traditional food for different regions. I think this is probably 50% because of ME, not being able to do any actual travelling to these countries, and 50% my age as I’m getting older and probably people get more interested in these things in general in their 20s than they would be in their teens. I know I’m generalising but I’ve tended to think of cooking as something that’s a grown up thing to do, maybe that’s just me.
One thing that annoys me with cooking and ME is how I don’t trust my body to actually feel good for any length of time when I’m cooking as it involves cutting things, standing over pans to cook and just general concentration so I’m always worried about feeling light headed or needing to abandon it half way through the cooking process. I used to cook main courses, me and my sister actually used to do a ‘ready steady cook’ style thing for lunches for ourselves made with food from the garden and the fridge so it was all raw or already cooked but it was always fun and we came up with all these weird combinations. I seem to remember gooseberries wrapped in chives, which can’t have been good, but it was creative. These days I’ve ended up being less creative just because I know that if I stick to the recipe I’m likely to stay within the tie limit rather than accidentally end up having to take another half an hour because I messed it up and had to restart or take a huge detour in the process.
I love looking through cook books, especially the ones that have pictures in them of the dishes and a little bit about the area they’re from. I think I inherited that from mum as she has a lot of recipe books from different countries and both of us get them out sometimes just to look at for ideas on what we could have. I think most of them are more exotic choices than we’d actually make as we see something that’d be nice to make that night but then we don’t have half the ingredients. We have decided that once a week we’ll look in a cookery book and choose a new meal for the following week and put anything we need on a shopping list. We haven’t done it yet but it’ll be fun when we do, maybe I’ll start to find more recipes I can do or I’ll see that these things that sound complicated are actually easier and less energy consuming than I think.
I have tended to stick with cold things, like pasta salads, when it comes to cooking or when I’m home alone there’s a lot of instant meals and jars of things used. I have one go to pasta sauce that I learned in school in year 6 that’s easy to make and I can sit on the floor while it’s actually cooking as I’ve done it so many times in the past 15 years that I know exactly what’s happening when. It’s also a great base for anything like curries so I just add some spices and it’s a new meal. I like those kinds of things, the sort where you can put everything in a pot or saucepan, maybe a bit of browning some ingredients at the beginning and then you add other bits and simmer and then it’s done with no more checking and adding or constantly stirring. Also the kinds of meals where the main part is really quick to make is good, things like prawns and scallops are so fast as well as spinach and pre-boiled potatoes can be a great combination and so fast to combine with spices to create something really tasty and a complete meal.
I don’t do hot meals often, I live with my parents still so it’s mainly them cooking and my helping is doing the gravy or helping to prepare something but not being involved in the whole thing. My main cooking tends to be pasta salads, and even then it’s mainly a tuna, mayo, sweetcorn and capers combination that works well with rice or pasta though I am yet to find a good gluten free pasta that survives in cold pasta salads. The closest I’ve found is the Heinz one and the Dove Farm brown rice one is good but they never have it in stock when I look anywhere. Any suggestions from anyone who doesn’t eat gluten for a good pasta that survives being cold without getting all brittle and dry and chewy after a day or two would be really appreciated.
I think the thing that I’m the only one who makes in our house, at the moment anyway, is sushi. Unfortunately, I’m always surprised at how much energy it takes with the actual rolling and cutting the sushi but the cooking of the rice is really quick so doing something like onigiri with a rice ball you make in your hands around a centre of whatever you want (I often still stick with tuna mayo) is a lot lower energy wise and shorter for standing up. I would suggest sitting on the floor with a trya on your lap or low surface for this, especially ones you don’t need to cut, but if I did that all the ingredients would get eaten by our dog before I had a chance to do anything with them. A table and chair are good but I find the level isn’t great when you have to keep on lifting your arms to do things but it is easier on the legs and uses less energy if your arms aren’t too bad pain wise.
One thing I love to make, though it’s not often that I do, is chocolate things. I love making truffles but they never really get eaten, we had one lot I made for weeks after Christmas in the fridge one year because I hadn’t dipped them in chocolate so they had to stay in there and they were sort of forgotten with the bought ones out on the side in the living room at the time. I’m planning on making more next year and have found a few easy recipes to do in the same book I got that from including peppermint creams which I love, not sure they’ll have the same problem of getting forgotten if they turn out well.
Do any of you guys have any easy recipes that would be good to start with cooking more? I was thinking of maybe trying to aim for cooking one meal a week to start with on my own just to get into it. My parents would still be here if I did end up running out of energy part way through or couldn’t cook something so there would be a sort of safety net but it might help build my confidence a bit in it rather than jumping in the deep end with something fancy. Do you have any favourites or something from where you’re from that you love to cook or eat?