I started this blog five years ago, back when we were house hunting and I had two revelations:
1. Open-plan kitchen – a need-to-have, not just a nice-to-have, because we love having people over for meals or parties, and I couldn’t bear the idea of being stuck, Cinderalla-like, at the stove in a distant room, being able to hear people laughing without being able to hear what they were laughing about. What could be worse! Well, I suppose nobody having fun because I’m there would be worse, but there’s only so much a floorplan can do.
2. Going out for meals in London is expensive. (okay, I know you didn’t come here for “revelations” like that. The other ideas on the blog are better. Really) Not that this was an entirely new revelation – back in 2007 seeing the bill for a very average meal out with nine university friends was the trigger for my obsession with cooking for large numbers of people. So when we were saving up for our deposit, we introduced Austerity Month which basically meant not going out to eat, and we saved so much money that it was rather shameful. Not that we never go out now, but we’re lucky in London that there are new restaurants opening all the time and so we go to a lot of soft launches, and also many of our favourite places (see London Eats) provide good value as well as great cooking.
At first the blog was just an easier way of writing up recipes to share when people paid me the compliment of asking. Now it’s become somewhere to share them even when nobody’s asked! But all of the recipes here are tried-and-tested – most of them originated from from cooks that I really admire, but I only write them up here if I’ve modified the ingredients and/or method to fix any issues, make them easier, quicker or cheaper without a corresponding loss of quality.
Everything’s suitable for making at home, ranging from a minimum fuss weeknight supper for two to large-scale mass catering. I’m a totally untrained amateur, and in fact the least-qualified cook in our household (the Husband has a half GCSE in Food Science. He loads the dishwasher), but I really value good food.
So some of the ceilings in my kitchen are:
Money: I try to budget a kitchen supper for 6-8 at £40 – roughly equivalent to our share of the cost if my husband and I had met people out at a restaurant. For a party, I aim for the cost of 2 rounds of drinks = £100, for meals for the two of us, including spinoff meals with the leftovers, the target cost is £2 per portion
Time: during the week I leave the house at 6.30am and come home about 13 hours later – so cooking is either a quick weeknight or longer weekend thing! (2017 edit: this was true back in 2012 but not quite any more – I still work full time but more manageable hours!)
Washing up: the job of the Husband- but I try to keep it minimal (2017: we have a dishwasher!)
Ingredients: only those which are accessible in the inner city!
Workspace: not massive, sadly
Skills: amateur home cook with big dreams and ready to try new things. But there’s nothing that can’t be done…or at least tried!