Sunday, 17 October 2010

Cooking with Mother

Are you sitting comfortably? Then, we'll begin...

When your 13-year-old son tells you he wants to start cooking more, believe me, you don't hang about.

You grab the ball and run with it and, if you're lucky, he might have learned how to knock out a passable family meal before his attention is once again claimed by Guitar Hero, Ben 10, Pokemon (just when I thought we were over that particular one!), text messages from his friends, or that cute girl that he insists is 'just a friend'.

First, take one common-or-garden trainee oik.

Then, gather the other ingredients (in this case, filleted chicken thighs, onion, red pepper, fresh tomatoes, a little red whine - sorry wine, some rice and a few strands of saffron).

Next comes the fun part. Putting the two elements of the experiment together.

Teenage boys have phenomenal manual dexterity so long as they are playing PlayStation, strumming their guitars, or zapping out text messages like Mercury the Winged Messenger on speed. But when it comes to chopping veg, they have the skills of an arthritic three-toed sloth.

This is where maternal patience (and courage) comes in.

Gently show the fruit of your loins how to cut the peppers and the onion - then take a deep breath, hand them the knife and step back with your heart pounding.

They may even surprise you and complete the exercise without adding a chunk of their own flesh to the mix.

(Please note our onion chopping technique!)
Then comes the meat.
Now, can anyone tell me how a kid can cheerfully chomp through kilos of meat every year, play gory computer games and delight in blood-thirsty macho-crap movies, and yet be too squeamish to cut a chicken fillet in two?
Oh no, that job is handed back to Mum - the non meat-eater of the family.

Preparation done, you can allow yourself to breathe a sigh of relief. Congratulations - your offspring has come this far without amputating any vital body parts.

Now for the next challenge - heat.
Carefully guide teen to the pots & pans cupboard, and patiently explain the difference between a saucepan, a frying pan and a colander ("That's the one with holes in, darling. Not so good for cooking sauce").

Place saucepan on hob, turn on the heat (kinda vital at this stage), dribble in some olive oil ("I said dribble THE OIL, sunshine!"), and wait til it heats up. Add the onions and sautee them gently, then throw in the red peppers, and stir some more ("You can't possibly be exhausted already. And no, your arm will NOT fall off.")

Add the chicken pieces - if necessary at arms' length, for the faint-hearted - and sautee gently on both sides til the flesh turns white.

Throw in a splash of wine ("Just a splash, sweetheart! That's Mummy's stash!") and let the ingredients drink it up. Then add a couple of roughly chopped tomatoes and stir them into the mix. Let it all boil for a little, then add a carton of tomato puree. Add salt and pepper ("A-choo!"), then stir some more.

Cover the pot, turn down the heat and permit exhausted teen to go and flump in front of the TV as the mix simmers for the next 40-60 minutes.

Once fully cooked through, show teen how to taste sauce to check for seasoning ("Blow on it first! I said.... Yes, I know. That's why I said blow first - and yes, you WILL be able to feel your tongue again, I promise"), then simmer a little more.

Boil some rice, with a little saffron, and summon the fruit of your loins to witness the serving up of their masterpiece. Ta da!

It usually helps to have a doting grandparent handy, ready to sample the fare and heap praise on said youngster, in the vague hope that we might have Greece's answer to Jamie Oliver on our hands.

And for afters?
Well, here's something he prepared earlier.
It's not much. Just a simple orange zest and vanilla sponge cake, but it's a start - it's definitely a start.


  1. Please please tell me he did not do the 'Achoo' straight into the pot.

  2. No Fran, thankfully we avoided that particular delight.

  3. That cake looks delish! All looks good actually! I can't wait to teach mine to cook. I wonder what delights they'll have in store for us to try.

  4. Congratulations to you!! I've been trying to teach my husband to cook because I need a break! Hope your son enjoys his new hobby for awhile :-)

  5. Yuuum! How cute is he! Bless him!

    I love your wine stash comment. Teehee xx

    Becca x

  6. Young'Un just got in from his English lesson (we're in Greece, don't forget) and demanded "So, what am I cooking today?", which kind of threw me!

    As he ate his main meal at midday, we settled on him making his own (kind of) Spanish omelette for supper - complete with peppers, tomatoes, ham, cheese. He insisted on doing EVERYTHING (well, except the washing up - hmm, must make that the next lesson) himself. He even painstakingly sliced a tomato and fanned it out as a garnish, then artfully sprinkled a little pepper and paprika around the edge.

    Cue proud mummy - I may even cry a little.

  7. Impressive! I'm getting hungry now! Bravo sou!