Friday, September 11, 2009

Cooking for Pleasure

So many children are missing out on the simple pleasures of good home cooking. Many of the new generation don't even know how to cook as they have been brought up on the quick and easy option of convenience foods, take away or fast food dining. As they in turn become parents their children are subjected to the same food values and have little or no experience of fresh, home made food. They also miss out on the special childhood experiences associated with a warm, cosy, centre-of-the-family kitchen filled with the wonderful aromas of good food. What better way to be greeted after school than with a fresh batch of cookies or muffins? Or to sit down to a bowl of hot soup on a winters evening or enjoy the tantalizing appeal of a roasting Sunday joint? I am not by any means suggesting that we all need to don our aprons and be tied to the kitchen, lost amidst piles of dirty dishes and a throng of hungry kids. We lead our lives very differently from even a generation ago and values, beliefs and expectations have changed enormously. However, there is much to be gained for ourselves and our children in getting back to basics and enjoying the simple pleasures associated with home cooking. It is time-consuming and at times tedious, but ultimately satisfying and rewarding. Yes, there are occasions when cooking means throwing together whatever we can find in the fridge and getting it on the table in 20 minutes just to feed a hungry and tired family. There are also occasions when we can allow ourselves (and our kids!) the time to really enjoy the experience. Shopping for the right ingredients and planning a special meal, or trying out that recipe someone was raving about, or even experimenting with bread making! A friend recently gave me a 150 year old!!! sourdough culture and I have been having a wonderful time baking the most amazing breads. It is the most enjoyable and the simplest bread making I have ever done. I prepare it in the evening, leave it in the oven overnight to prove and set it on automatic so that in the morning we are greeted by the fantastic aroma of newly baked bread! And my kids love it! My 11 year old son is a true little gourmet and we are planning a special dinner this weekend, tossing around ideas about what we will cook, anything from sushi and dolmades to curry and home made ravioli. Yet for many children, these simple pleasures are missing. Home and hearth is an essential ingredient in raising children and I fully believe that the hearth needs to be warm and welcoming. Sorry, but a microwave just doesn't cut it!

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