How to Cook
My latest book written during the Pandemic is called ‘How to Cook’, but the working title has always been ‘Recipes No Kids Should Leave School Without Being Able to Cook’ however my publishers were adamant that ‘kid’ was not PC so here we are with a title that doesn’t get the same spontaneous response that the original title engendered when I announced what was in the pipeline in answer to the question.
However, it’s all in there, 100 recipes and lots more variations on the originals to get everyone excited about how easy it is to cook simple and delicious dishes and do lots of contemporary riffs on time-honoured favourites.
How crazy is it that only a tiny percentage of our children learn how to cook at home or in our schools…What are we like…to have now let at least two generations out of our houses and schools without equipping them with the basic life skills to feed themselves properly or for that matter letting them experience the magic of sowing a seed and watching it grow into something delicious and super nutritious to eat.
Since the 1950’s, the main focus in education has been acquiring academic skills – mastering the STEM subjects. The subliminal message to all students has been that practical skills like cooking or growing are of much lesser value – unnecessary in today’s world where one can pop into the local supermarket and choose from an endless variety of ready-made and ultra-processed goods to save time and the ‘drudgery’ of cooking it yourself.
So why is it important to be able to cook – a fundamental question that sometimes stumps people…well at the very least to feed oneself nutritiously and deliciously and to take control of one’s own health. With a few basic cooking skills, one can whip up a spontaneous meal with a few inexpensive ingredients at a moment’s notice and bring joy to those around you. It’s one of the easiest ways to win friends and influence people plus one can travel anywhere in the world and get a job. Chefs and cooks are welcomed with open arms everywhere but in the end, home cooking is the most important skill of all..
When you teach someone how to cook, you give them a gift that will forever enhance their lives, it becomes increasingly evident that our food choices affect our energy, vitality, ability to concentrate and both our mental and physical health. So this book that I was determined to write before I hang up my apron has 100 basic recipes for you to cook your way through. For virtually every recipe, I suggest variations on the original. For example, when you make a basic Irish soda bread, one of the simplest and most delicious breads of all, it can be white or brown, seedy or plain, flecked with seaweed or fresh herbs. Baked in a loaf tin or in a traditional round, marked with a cross – the traditional blessing and pricked in the four quadrants to let the fairies out of the bread.
Scones or teeny weenies made from the same dough can be dipped in grated cheese or toasted nuts, they can be sweet or savoury – spotted dog or stripy cat…. Gently, roll the dough into a rectangle, slather with chocolate spread. Roll up, cut and dip the twirls into coarsely chopped hazelnuts…Change tack, place a rectangle of dough into a well-oiled ‘Swiss roll’ tin. Top with tomato sauce, slivers of pepperoni, a scattering of chopped spring onion and grated Cheddar – now you have a deep-pan pizza and on and on it goes…
Same with an omelette, the quintessential fast-food made in minutes. So many delicious fillings to add, slip it into a crusty baguette for an omelette sambo… Cut in strips to add to a salad or soup or cook the well flavoured mixture in muffin tins to make mini frittatas.
This book is not just for kids, teenagers and college grads, it’s for anyone and everyone who wants to whip up something delicious for themselves or for family and friends.
So back to our educational system which many rightly believe has failed in our duty of care to fully educate our young people… so let’s raise our voices and pick up our pens to demand that our Government and Department of Education re-embed practical cooking and growing in our national curriculum for the future health and happiness of the nation. Let’s start here…
Special thanks to my daughter Lydia Hugh Jones whose drawings greatly enhance How to Cook…