Cooking the books

NOW I may not be considered to be a master chef. To me a packet thrown into the microwave is about as much practice of actual cooking as I have had in recent years. Even that can cause difficulties, because the directions on the packets are always print

NOW I may not be considered to be a master chef.

To me a packet thrown into the microwave is about as much practice of actual cooking as I have had in recent years.

Even that can cause difficulties, because the directions on the packets are always printed in the smallest type possible.

This, I believe, could explain the situation when a microwave meal has actually disintegrated into a lump of mash.


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But it wasn't always that way.

In those distant days of attending school, I became one of the "volunteers" who actually gave up such pursuits as woodwork and metalwork to enter the unknown world of domestic science.

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In other words, cookery.

There were about half-a-dozen of us "volunteers" dressed in knee-length aprons and wearing ridiculous chef head-gear. It has to be said, however, that we did look the part.

But then came the difficult part. We were expected to cook.

It has to be said, however, that after three months I had mastered the art of making a shepherd's pie - and still today it is a masterpiece in culinary skill.

I mention this adventure into the world of cookery and that strange territory which is the kitchen, because all the cookery programmes we now have started me thinking that, perhaps, it is about time to return to the apron and the chef's hat.

Obviously, the starting point will not be too ambitious. Perhaps I could start - with some help from one of Delia's cookbooks - with boiled eggs and soldiers. There is nothing difficult about boiling an egg. Is there?

Then, perhaps, I could look into the recommendations of Jamie Oliver and Rick Stein.

But the real test will be the Chinese meal.

Now there is a mystery, and although the method of cooking may be simple, I'll need to understand and recognise all those strange- sounding ingredients.

And then there is the special equipment, such as a wok.

It will certainly be an adventure.

There, again, I could simply just make a shepherd's pie.

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