Another Monday night at home on my own. Another bottle of red wine opened. Web surfing for Gordon's birthday present. More pottering around the house. Oh, and tonight I actually cooked!
Those of you who know me know that I rarely cook. Gordon is the master chef in our house. I make breakfast and pack our lunches every day, but when it comes to dinner I will cook maybe once every 2-3 weeks from my standard repertoire of baked salmon, grilled pork tenderloin, grilled chicken salad, soup (carrot or butternut squash), and chicken curry with store-bought curry sauce. Sometimes I'll pull together a tapas plate, other times I'll go crazy and cook things like a vegetarian Moroccan stew which was delicious but a bit overly complicated. When I try a new recipe I tend to go for the ones that have a lot of ingredients and require many different steps. The more ingredients and instructions there are, the safer I feel. I know a lot about ingredients, cooking methods, etc. but when it comes to pulling it all together I just don't have the confidence. Mainly that is due to a lack of experience.
Gordon has this incredible confidence in the kitchen. He doesn't need to create fancy meals with 3hr reductions, in fact the best meals he cooks use simple ingredients that are well combined and cooked to perfection. Simple is better. Admittedly we've both suffered through un-cooked fish and filet mignon in the past (sorry Gordon, you know it's true!) but he continues to learn from these experiences. Now he knows that cooking times for meat and fish, as stated in recipes, is not exact. It depends on if it has warmed up to room temperature before cooking, the thickness of the cut, the heat of your oven or grill pan. He has learned to adapt to different cooking conditions and use recipes as a rule of thumb and not an absolute. That's the difference between someone who can cook and someone who isn't quite there yet - Gordon doesn't need a recipe, I need a recipe (at least I think I do).
Gordon also genuinely loves to cook, and for someone like me who is a little bit intimidated by cooking, it's easy to let him take over and cook most nights. But I'd really like to become more proficient in the kitchen. So tonight I threw together a simple pasta with what we had in the fridge - pancetta, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. It was simple and I didn't follow a recipe. The end result was good. Not outstanding, but good, if a little bland, and a little bit too much pasta. But I'll learn, if I keep trying. That's the important part.
To help with the learning process, each week Gordon is going to pick a simple recipe for me to make. Not only will it force me to go beyond my comfort level, but hopefully it will also inspire us both to try some different dishes. With all this Ironman training food has become a bit boring - more of a necessity than something to be enjoyed. Time to turn that around!
PS I don't plan to learn how to bake. Gordon grew up working in his parent's bakery. Enough said.