TRB - Guest post - Cooking and stuff with Catherine

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

It's my pleasure to introduce y'all to my chum Catherine, from Running in my wellies.

As part of the Big Blog Swap, she got stuck with writing for me :-)

I was mega excited about this - as I love her blog and read it all the time. I'm worried she thinks I stalk her with the amount of comments I leave, but ho hum.

I'll hand you over to her now, enjoy!

I have always been one of those people who leave things until the last minute. At school I did my homework on the school bus or on my lap under the table. University saw me putting in twelve hour stints in the library to get my dissertation finished. I never make my lunch the night before. When it's time to leave for work you'll see me sitting cross legged in front of the mirror painting on eyeliner with my mouth open. In mundane and fairly unimportant situations, I like to live on the edge.

So firstly,this explains why I am hammering out this post the day before I need to submit it. And secondly, it explains why I chose to talk about this topic, a topic close to my heart.

Bear with me if you're trying to see the link between baking stuff and me being an unorganised beeyatch. Because when I was pondering this guest post I got to thinking about talking about something I love (i.e. food), and once I had thought for a little while I began to analyse both my kitchen history and my kitchen style. Pull up that psychiatrist's couch...

Apple and butterscotch cake: what a beast

First Memories
My family have probably shaped both my liking of, and slapdash approach to, cooking.

Exhibit 1: my mum. She freely admits she doesn't like cooking and is simultaneously mystified and wary of it. As kids she despaired as we decided overnight we now hated something we previously loved (I remember her sittingdown and compiling a spread sheet of do-able meal options) and her meals were sometimes quirky, i.e. the infamous 'I had no food colouring so I used apple and blackcurrant squash' cake. So in my house, once I was old enough, I learnt that it was often more effective (and widely welcomed by mum) for me to do the cooking.

My Grandmas were at opposite ends of the cooking spectrum. My Dad's mum was a proper old school cook and her cakes and jams were legendary. My Uncle told me how, when it was harvest on the farm, she would bring out hot dinners to the farmworkers. Six plates of stew. On her bike. With my Uncle on the back.

Mum's mum is a bit more...kooky (what an appropriate term). She has an Aga, which instantly dictates an unorthodox method where times and temperatures were out the window. Her three signature dishes are cheese biscuits, 'melting moments and the classic, Aga Toast.

a peanut mess after faffing with a blender

My Skills Progress
As I got older I began to enjoy cooking new things and trying them out on the family. I cooked lasagne, hollandaise sauce, profiteroles, meringue... trying them all out on the family. If I was bored I would try out a new recipe. My experimental nature came because of our location: our farm was nowhere near any shops so I made do with what was in the cupboards. My Bible was a 1989 cookbook, which I still use now.

me and the infamous Aga

Aah, Uni, Uni is where I met a species of people I hadn't come into contact with before: people who can't cook. My flatmate, I think, had been kept in a box and released into the world on his 18th birthday. He didn't have a clue. His idea of a snack was a piece of bread folded in half. He used to watch me cook in awe as I made a bowl of pasta, God love him. He has survived to this day, all credit, and although he primarily eats frozen pizza he has been known to cook. Once he fed us a meal made entirely out of things from cans. Remember that scene in Friends where Rachel makes trifle with mince? Yeah, that.

mac ncheese, a basic dish that you can jazz however you like

Holy cow, I'm a cook
I always considered going into cooking as a profession, but I never fancied being a shouty chef and was never accurate, tidy, careful or recipe-obedient enough to put myself out there elsewhere. But when I was a waitress in a tea room I somehow wrangled a couple of kitchen shifts. I was in charge, and I loved it. Looking forward to work? Unheard of! I loved going into my organisational trance, getting things done efficiently and most of all not having to cope with customers. I miss that job.

cookie dough choccies, oh yeh man

I am a firm believer in freestyle cookery, i.e. not following a recipe and going for it. I feel that once you have that bank of basic skills (like making a white sauce, asponge cake, tomato sauce) you can draw on these and make them your own. One ofmy favourite things to cook is lasagne, but I never ever follow a recipe orweigh ingredients. Hmm, I fancy red peppers in this today. In they go. No milk? I'll use Greek yoghurt and cheese. How about a breadcrumb crust this time? Why not. I adore this way of cooking: it's creative and fun.

So cooks of the world, here is my message! If you are missing an ingredient, say so what! If you don't have recipe, go off roading. If it goes wrong, who cares, think ofhow to save it. Enjoy your cooking, add your own flair, zone out and have a ball.

Cooking for me is like an art. I don't want to be bogged down, I want to leave things until the last minute and enjoy the adrenalin rush getting it done. Sure, use recipes for ideas and inspiration but don't get bogged down in following them to the letter. Kitchen time is amazing because it is your time and you are the boss.

get messy

If you want to browse any of my cooking adventures check out my blog Running in my wellies.

I also talk about living in the country (like my lovely friend Rachel), dogs, shopping, beauty and books. I have a lot of love for a lot of things, I am in the midst of discovering my forte, join me on the journey why dontcha.

Thank you for having me Rachel! xxx


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