It’s the summer of 1946, approaching 4pm one afternoon, in the kitchen of a house in Hampstead Garden Suburb, north London.
Molly Ellis (age 31) is coming to terms with life as a full-time housewife in post-war Britain, looking after her young son in a bigger house than she’s ever known.
She’s coping– but this afternoon her friend Rita, “Auntie Rita,” is coming to tea–and Molly is not happy about it.
“Just one more thing–the day isn’t long enough; wish Rita wasn’t coming today!”
The front door bell rang and four-year-old Big Ears, goes to open it while Molly takes the scones from the oven.
“Mummy doesn’t want YOU to come to tea today….”
We never saw Auntie Rita again!
* * * * *
It’s stressful cooking for a family–however much you enjoy it–and my mother enjoyed it.
She did this for a lifetime–for a family that grew to five.
No sign of pressure, no complaining–regular as clockwork.
(The Auntie Rita episode is the only time I can remember the pressure getting to her. Maybe she really didn’t like Rita!)
Ma had staying power–the stamina of a professional.
Her duty is how she might have characterized it. Christmas cakes started in September, a little brandy added every month. Home-made marmalade with the bitter oranges from Seville bottled every February. The weekly roast on Sunday stretched ’til Wednesday–cold on Monday, minced on Tuesday. Good home husbandry! I was the admiring sous-chef, specializing in licking out the bowl.
I’m not cooking for a family–but I do cook twice a day.
Of course, I have the time–well usually–and the inclination (usually).
Many people have neither–or maybe one, but not the other.
Shame–they are missing out!
(Not how they might see it, perhaps–“better things to do….”)
As a Type 2 diabetic (my mother was Type 1 and had to inject insulin), cooking puts me in control of what I eat which is a huge advantage.
I like the “day-to-dayness” of it–the regularity.
Perhaps I thrive under the pressure.
Early days as an actor, usually on my way to the unemployment office known as the Labour Exchange, I often thought how much happier I’d be sitting behind a desk, answering the odd phone call–a rosy view of a 9-to-5 job! Or maybe gardening in the fresh air–honest toil.
Then the phone would ring–a job!
Now, I cook twice a day–lunch and dinner.
There’s my pressure.
Enough of this idle musing…
From my about-to-be-published third cookbook, Mediterranean Cooking for Diabetics—Delicious dishes to control or avoid diabetes. (Launching TOMORROW, March 3rd)
Smoky cauliflower soup
Cauliflower is not everyone’s first choice as a vegetable–let alone as a soup.
But this soup usual wins over even the most doubtful….
We love it– and marvel that something SO delicious comes from such simple ingredients:
The key ingredient is smoky bacon.
1 large cauliflower--broken into florets
2 cloves of garlic–chopped
1 medium onion–chopped
2 oz smoked bacon–chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 litre/2 pints stock
salt and pepper
- Gently heat the oil in a pan and sauté the bacon bits until they colour a bit.
- Add the garlic and onion.
- Cook the mix on for five minutes until the onion has softened.
- While this happens break up the cauliflower into florets and add to a large saucepan.
- When ready add the onion and bacon mix to the cauliflower pan with the bay leaves and the stock.
- Cover and bring this mix up to the simmer and cook until the cauliflower is tender.
- Lift a couple of tablespoons of the mix out of the pan and into a bowl with a slotted spoon letting the liquid fall back in the pan
- Liquidise the contents of the pan and test the seasoning.
- Use the set-aside florets to garnish the soup and serve hot.
Meredith asked, “What is this? It’s so creamy? Does it have potatoes in it?”
“Cauliflower soup,“ I replied, somewhat sheepishly.
(Somehow cauliflower is not a vegetable that’s easy to own….)