I'm a very neat and tidy person - neat make-up bag, neat underwear drawer, neat desk . . . I'm well organised in all areas of my life - except for cooking. It's the one activity at which I'm careless and slapdash. I think it's because cooking doesn't come naturally to me and I'd rather spend my time doing something else, even though I care a lot about nutritious food and the quality of what I eat. So, I have to cook, even though I'd rather be reading or handwashing or tidying a cupboard.
One of the things that annoy me about cooking is that you can't put something on to do its thing (roast, bake, simmer) and then go off and return when you're ready. You have to return when whatever it is you are cooking is ready. I am always being caught out by that inconvenient fact. I get engrossed, forget about cooking, and then it's burned or ruined or not-as-nice-as-it-should-be-but-will-have-to-do. I'm constantly forcefeeding myself things that could have been better if I'd kept a note of the time.
Then the other thing I do is use whatever I have to hand, even if it's not what the recipe suggests - like last week's lentils. Most recipes include at least one item not in the cupboard or fridge and sometimes it's only small, like ginger or thyme, but sometimes it's pretty major. I forget to check the recipes I plan to cook, so I'm never completely sure what's in them until I get started. I've left a brownie mixture half-way through to walk up to the supermarket for maple syrup - and then had to endure supermarket maple syrup, not health food shop maple syrup.
So, today I decided I'd have a week off dreary lentils and I made these easy Mexican beanies instead. I would have followed Jude's recipe, Quick beanie mix, in her beautiful second book, Coming home to cook, except I didn't have any celery. So I improvised (risky) and it's turned out well (whew). Here's what I did.
|Spicy, sweet and fragrant. Makes a fantastic mix for nachos too.|
1 tablespoon olive oil (well, I didn't measure, but it was about that much)
half a red onion
some chipotle chilli powder and some cumin (didn't measure, threw it in)
1 garlic clove
1 roasted sweet potato
1 x tin of black beans, 1 x tin of pinto beans (divine combination)
some tomato passata, about half the bottle - so perhaps 350 g
1 clump of coriander, stalks and all
Heat the olive oil and saute the onion over a gentle heat (I frequently overlook this kind of detail and frizzle the onion away to burnt brown nastiness before I've even properly started). Add the chipotle chilli, cumin and garlic and fry for a bit longer. Don't go and hang out a load of washing at this point. Stir in the beans and the passata, cover and cook for 20 mins until the mixture is thick but still saucy (fond of a bit of sauciness at breakfast). Turn the heat down otherwise it won't be as good. Add the roasted potato at the end.
This is going to be a lovely breakfast. I'd add a dollop of yoghurt but I've run out . . .
What about you? What are your bad cooking habits? Confess!
Did anyone else find it fascinating that the mighty Mr Ferriss has signed his next gazillion-selling title to Amazon, reputedly for a larger 7-figure sum than his last 7-figure deal? Here's the Guardian's take, although Mike Shatzkin provides a reliably good insight into what it means from an insider's perspective. The deal is not that surprising if you follow Tim's blog where he's written about the current state of publishing and its potential to exploit all possible modern markets. He certainly seems to me to represent that new breed who couldn't care less about books as cultural artefacts. Some people bleed to be published because they want their name on the cover of A Book - but the future of publishing is increasingly being shaped (oops, almost said 'written') by those mercifully free of the weight of cultural legacy.