Delia's new "cookery cheat" show: Has she lost her marbles?

Andrew and I have now watched a couple of episodes of Delia’s new cooking show where she shows busy people how to get nice meals together quickly.

Delia cooking, if you call THAT cooking...Now, what mystifies me is that while she’s targeting time-poor people, she’s unquestionably aiming for the top tier richer people. Last week, when she made her fish pie involving frozen pre-mashed potato cakes, we estimated the cost of the meal at nearly £15! For that price, you could get a delicious Marks & Spencer meal that you can stick in the oven and enjoy just as much without having to fight with frozen potato lumps and pre-smoked, pre-cooked salmon!

I suppose she’s shooting for the even-smaller niche market of those who need to pretend they’re eating “homemade” food to have a clear conscience!

Seriously… pre-mashed potatoes… Delia, honey, you can’t be serious!

You're not allergic, you idiot

As a total foodie, I find that challenging your tastebuds and trying new flavours regularly is one of the joys of life. I always feel a bit sorry for people afflicted with allergies, pregnant women (who can’t eat soft cheese or sushi!) and diabetics.

While we all need to watch what we eat to avoid ballooning in weight or croaking too young from clogged up arteries, the people above need to be doubly careful since there are serious immediate implications to giving in to food they shouldn’t have – I should know, lovely Lynsey at work nearly sneezes her brains out if she eats anything containing gluten!

When I cook for friends, I love to introduce them to new food, without serving anything TOO weird… But when someone mentions allergies, it stops me right in my tracks. Uh oh, must really watch what I put in this dish! I would feel awful to cause a friend the kind of physical discomfort that comes from a bad reaction to nuts, for example.

However, there is a nuance. There’s real allergies, and then there’s what food sissies call “allergies”. When I hear “Oh, I’m allergic to red peppers, I once had a bad experience with red peppers”, whereby they mean they don’t particularly like the taste of them, or they ate a dish which contained bad prawns which gave them the runs, and to which they associate red peppers.

That. Is. Not. An. Allergy.

Comprendes? That’s a food dislike. It’s no more serious than my sister Julie disliking mashed potatoes and spending many childhood evenings alone at the table after dinner, left there to finish her potatoes if she wanted dessert. The only thing that could have killed her there was boredom.

A one-off bad experience with fish shouldn’t be a reason to stop eating seafood altogether. It makes my blood boil that people cover their picky taste with a medical condition such as food allergies.

If you’re one of these people, do yourself a favour. Next time you go out to a good restaurant, somewhere that serves quality food, try something out of your comfort zone. Maybe give salmon a go again? I’m not saying jump straight into the raw oysters, but don’t cut out an entire range of food from your life simply because you’re too weenie to try it again.

Now, how about a chilli fried scorpion to top off that burrito?

Plastic carrier bags vs paper bags

Dear Britain,

Plastic bagsEvery year, over 17.5 billion plastic carrier bags are given out by supermarkets to enable you to take your shopping home. We all collect bags of bags, reusing maybe 5% of them at most, and disposing of the rest either by dropping them in those big supermarket bins, or at home in the usual rubbish.

The above is crap. Completely, utterly crap.

What I want everyone to ask next time they go to the supermarket is whether there are brown paper bags to use as an alternative. I find it shocking that none of the big shops, Sainsbury’s, Tesco or Asda, offer paper bags. They offer reusable bags, but being realistic, the vast majority of people are disorganised and forget their reusable bags at home, or they go immediately after work without popping home.

Supermarkets, please get brown paper bags into the stores. People, demand them and use them.

I’m far from an environmentalist and I know I probably leave a Bigfoot-sized carbon footprint on the planet, but this is one area where I think we’d all benefit.

Thank you.

Peace, love and H2O,
Vero

Straight out of the ice age

Defrosting the freezer is something that we all think “oh yeah, must really do that next weekend” but since it’s about as exciting as watching paint dry, it always gets delayed.

Well, last night, looks like I didn’t shut the freezer door properly. Bugger. It means that, this morning, there was a nice puddle of water and a hell of a lot of defrosted food around. Thankfully, the kittens hadn’t spotted the mess and stayed nicely away while I cleaned the whole thing up.

Three nearly-finished loaves of bread with a whole ice age worth of frost on them, a few melted ice lollies, a bag of pesto cubes (ooh great find!) and some frostbitten bagels. So really, not many food casualties.

I apologise to the environment for the wasted electricity overnight, I’ll make up for it by planting a tree or composting the cat poo or something…

At least I’ve just recuperated about 25 Ikea food bag clips. So THAT’s where they’d all gone. And here I was, blaming Andrew for throwing them away carelessly.

And the moral of this story – since there needs to be a moral to such a boring post – take half an hour today, empty, defrost and clean up your freezer, especially if it’s not a frost-free one. You’re making it work doubly hard with all that crappy ice, therefore using more power than necessary.

Right, well, time to go get reacquainted with the bottle of grapefruit vodka I also found in the freezer, wedged between the year-old oven yorkshire puddings and the half melted ice lollies.

Asda makes cooking fish easier

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a few posts about my amazement at many people’s fear of cooking unknown foods, resulting in Britain households cooking on average 4 meals each.

But while watching Hell’s Kitchen (the Marco Pierre White version, not the Gordon Ramsay one), which is a worthless show by the way, I saw an interesting advert by Asda which got me thinking.

Fish is a type of food many people have issues with. It’s wet. It’s slimey. It looks at you funny with its beady eyes. It can smell funny sometimes. So Asda found a low-cost solution for that problem.

They simply put the fish in a sealed bag which can be put straight into the oven, but also add a few bits of herbs and some lemon. This means a non-foodie can easily get a lovely steamed-in-the-bag meal without the hassle of touching fish.

Asda didn’t need to reinvent cooking or teach anyone to cook. Simply remarkable.