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2 posts from December 2010

09 December 2010

I Can Cook

I have many memories of cooking with my mother as I grew up. The kitchen was the centre of the house and meals were loud affairs with a fair few generations screaming at each other.

I remember clearly baking biscuits that I expected the family to devour.  These same biscuits were alternatively used as clay pigeon targets.  I considered the kitchen a place of experimentation and like Escoffier before me, regarded sauces as a key element of my repetoir.  A particular favourite was dijon, tomato ketchup and worcestershire sauce.  A real highlight was creating a concoction that I swore blindly to my mother I had seen my brother make and was delicious.  It consisted of using the magimix to blend some uncooked wurst, matzo and haimisha pickles together.  This dish was quite unique in just how vile it turned out.  To her credit, my mother let me make mistakes like this.  She also insisted I eat the lot and clear up.

So I made mistakes, but I learned from them and most importantly I learned from her and the confidence and knowledge I gained has stood me in very good stead.

I'm a sucker for journalists sucking their teeth as the country goes down the plug hole and if statistics are to be believed, in the UK we're watching more food TV programmes than ever, but cooking far less.  If that's the case then I think, there's no programme more important than CBeebies' I Can Cook.  Silverbrowlette is mildly obsessed with it.

It is possible this is because her 3am feeds were consumed in front of some rerun of 'Floyd on...' or one of Rick Stein's many outings.

It could also be because the programme is fun to watch and she's figured out that cooking is a lot like mucking about with paint or play-dough, but more tasty.

I've read some criticism of the show along the lines of the presenter being too annoying, the songs too catchy.  But this is kids TV afterall.  What stands out, are the long term benefits of the show.  The religious fervour of hand washing is helpful to ensure that we don't all have to end-up with snotty, dripping noses.  The trips to the well manicured gardens ensure that some kids at least will understad that potatoes start in the ground, rather than the crisp factory.

Recipes can be a bit odd, such as the pizza with grapes on it, but the olive rolls are actually quite tasty.  We are lucky, our daughter generally is not a fussy eater.  However, on those occasions when she does play up, the easiest way to get her to tuck in, is if she was involved in making it in the first place.

There was particular delight in our household when Mrs S realised that an I Can Cook cookbook has recently been published.  It was Silverbrowlette's best Chanukah present and ours if it prevents re-runs of my early disasters.

Undoubtedly, there will be some (inverted) snobs who will claim that a show recommending the use of polenta is disconnected from the real world.  That is no excuse for failing to introduce new ideas to children.  In my experience kids are only too happy to experiment and try new things if they get given the opportunity. 

I don't understand the smugness of parents who take such delight in claiming they never let their kids watch TV.  Some TV is very good, it's also part of our world and our kid's world.  In my entirely unprofessional opinion, you are only going to enhance your child's development by letting them spend 15 minutes watching an episode.  Failing that, can I recommend just spending some time with them cooking?  It's surprisingly good fun.


01 December 2010

Chanukah 2010

Tonight is the first night of Chanukah. I want to wish everyone a very Happy Chanukah, full of as many deep fried things and presents as you could possible consume.

Given that it is that time of year of unbridled consumerism and gluttony, can I point to you to my very own shop, kindly hosted by Amazon.  I've listed some of my favourite books and kitchen equipment.  If you're particularly looking for bookish inspiration, I've got more listed in what I've pompously named my library.

If you just want a bit of schmaltz, then watch the video below.  Take it away Harrison Avenue School 2007 Kindergarten.