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Friday, 30 June 2017

HOME COOKING

Well, here I am again.  I survived the surgery and while I won’t say I’m hale and hearty I have a lot to be thankful for.

Being in hospital was a great time to consider “Home Cooking” if only for the absolute lack of it! I thought about all the T.V. shows and the stars like Rachel Ray and Nigella Lawson who have blurred my idea of what home cooking is as they’ve made an industry based on recipes and fancy cookware.

My ideas of Home Cooking are those meals you grew up with.  Those special dishes your Mum made that in later life you wish you could duplicate.  Those dishes that when the family gets together everyone agrees: “Yes! Those are Mum’s ______ (insert your own choice of food)”.

Two staple dishes of English “Home cooking” in my estimation will always be: Firstly, a typical roast dinner.  This could be with beef or lamb, always served with Yorkshire puddings and roast potatoes and some kind of veg. 


The other staple English meal is the very humble Egg and Chips.  If you ever saw the movie “Shirley Valentine” you may remember the scene where Shirley feeds the evening’s steak to the neighbour’s dog.  Later her husband does not complain that he is being served Egg and Chips he just cannot understand why it is happening on the wrong night!


Our little Covey of Cockneys were fortunate in so many ways: Dad was a good cook and he was always in charge of the Sunday Roast, the Egg and Chips' nights were left to Mum, and the funny thing is - I don't remember Dad being around when we had Egg and Chips.


Rationing

Rationing put a crimp in everyone's cooking skills.  It began in 1940 and yes everyone had a ration book containing coupons which were handed to the shop keeper when you bought food.

Child's ration book

Despite the rationing during the war there were many things that Dad managed to cook that will always have a special place in my food memories: Liver and onions with liberal amounts of the best gravy you can imagine.  
These appear to have many more raisins than I recall.

Rock cakes, which now that I think back were very aptly named, after all they were made with lard and if they contained sugar it couldn't have been much and the few raisins could not have added much sweetening.

As great as these memories are, when we Covey of Cockneys sit around tossing memories of Home Cooking these are NOT the meals that immediately come to mind. No, we are more likely to say: "Does anyone remember Mum making Egg and Chips?"  And of course we do! 

The time frame is after WWII.  Imagine if you will it's Egg and Chip night.  Four hungry children with an age difference of 10 years between the youngest to the eldest sit patiently waiting and soon to be feed:  Perhaps you are thinking that there's a big pot of cut up potatoes bubbling in oil on the stove.  Not quite.  You see Mum had a unique way of cooking what we in North America call "French Fries".

Firstly, she would peel and dice a potato.  Next she would select a few of these chips for cooking, not a lot, just enough to fit into the couple of tablespoons of fat she had in a frying pan.  

With the pan tilted to just the right angle she would make sure that each delicious chip got nice and toasty brown.  At which time these few morsels would be served to an awaiting child with the words: "Here love, start on this, I'll make your egg now".  Which she did!


Of course it was done in the same inimitable manner!

It took a while for all to be served but hey, what else did we have to do, and when you're a child even strange cooking methods are normal.  After all, perhaps everyone cooks Egg and Chips this way!


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