Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Perfectly Practical #11 - Know How to Cook...Something (English Edition)



I have mentioned before that the Moppins Family lived in England for 8 years. My love of food was always there but it wasn't until living in England that my love of cooking began.

You see, while living in the DFW area our first year of marriage, we never ate at home. Why would we? There were only two of us and by the time we left for an hour's commute to work and came home after the same commute, we didn't feel like cooking and I didn't know how to anyway. We ate out every day, most days twice, and >gasp< many times three times a day!

I look back on that with horror but saw nothing wrong with it at the time. Plus, my grandmothers were great cooks, my parents are great cooks, I figured it was hereditary.

It was such a culture shock when we got to England and we quickly realized with the pound so strong against the dollar and the prices of things so incredibly high, there was no way we could eat out all the time - something had to give. I had to learn how to cook...something...

People were so kind to us and would invite us over for meals and it was only polite for us to do the same. So we had people over and I managed to serve raw potato salad.

Once I fed my guests, a crudité platter with (shock horror) raw cauliflower on it. You may think, so what? Well, in England you only eat cauliflower if it is cooked within an inch of its life and drowning in béchamel and cheese - mmmmm....glorious cauliflower cheese. Needless to say, no one touched the cauliflower.

I was asked by Devon's Godmother to help feed the youth at our church on a progressive dinner and told to make baked potatoes; I actually had to call her back and ask her how to do that - sad, but true.

There have been many more mistakes, raw/frozen meat, burned birthday cakes, you name it I have done it. My very dear stiffly lipped Britons all took the "never mind" approach and came back to dine with us again even after my many faux paux.

Something miraculous happened though, after more practice, my mistakes became fewer. My food became edible (thank God for that or else Engineer, Diva, and I would have starved!) I started learning how to cook something.

The best things I found in the beginning were fajitas (or other grilled meats), various Mexican foods (because my wonderful mother would send me care packages with jalapenos and such in them) and salads. Now that I could cook for people without them getting food poisoning, life was looking up.

All of this background to let you know that it is important that you know how to cook something for yourself, your family, or even company. It is a more frugal and practical solution than going out at mealtimes and it is far more social - no loud music, interruptions, etc.

Even if you know how to cook seven things well, you will be making a great start to your culinary career, and your family will be able to eat for a week.

I so appreciate that my English girlfriends were patient with me and answered lots of silly questions so that I could learn basics.

The most ironic thing about all of this is since we have moved back; I get asked the food questions - an example of passing on perfectly practical practices. :)

Love to all the U.K. Ladies-Wot-Brunch!

This is part of Works for Me.

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