Tuesday, January 22, 2008

To Cook or Not to Cook? That is the question. Oh - and bottoms. (Just because I felt like it.)

Some women love cooking. They live and breathe cooking. They have shelf upon shelf of cook books; basic, speciality, charity and, of course, the celebrity-chef cook book. They have glorious kitchens filled with dozens of gleaming pots and pans, rows of aromatic spices and cupboards full of exotic ingredients. (I prefer erotic ingredients like chocolate, strawberries and clotted cream. You’ve seen 9½ weeks haven’t you? (Hey, I may be approaching the Knackers Yard but I can still fantasize you know…)Let me assure you there is nothing “gleaming” about my kitchen; it’s a godforsaken place where even the living dead fear to tread. I’ve also only got two cook books; that’s all and frankly that’s enough. One book was given to me by my mother in law. (Possibly as a hint that her son required some nutrition in order to remain alive.) The second I bought myself for a pittance. Whilst I happily waste Mr Turley's hard earned cash on books of almost any description I draw the line at cook books; I actually bought mine from a clothes and household department store. You didn’t think I actually went to a book shop deliberately to buy one did you? No chance. I saw it by accident on a promotional stand; a book containing 1000 recipes for a mere fiver couldn’t be bad could it? That’s what I thought anyhow; I’d get a few ideas; spice up Mr Turley's meals with some daring recipes; maybe even make a little fruity sauce. Well that was the idea but you know it required just that bit too much effort…

Now before I had kids I worked long hours and commuted so I didn’t cook much except for quick, simple stuff; a roast was as good as it got. But when the children arrived a strange and bizarre thing started to happen; I began to hate cooking with an intensity unknown to my women friends and yet at the same time I was COMPELLED to eat everything I saw. How weird is that? And now everything I’ve unnecessarily eaten has developed into a rather large bulbous lump which has attached itself to my bottom. God, it’s embarrassing when people yell “There’s an alien!” …and then I realise they’re pointing at my (once pert) derriere. However, in my defence and in defence of other women afflicted by this phenomenon let me point out that there are some possible benefits of having a large bottom;

1. You’ll never get a sore butt like skinny women do. All that extra cushioning provides valuable comfort. I find this is particularly the case at Parent’s Evenings at School when one must sit on one of those miniature chairs for hours whilst Darling Johnny’s mother twitters on about his ability to recite the 9 times table backwards whilst jumping through a burning hoop. By the way… parents who keep other parent’s waiting really annoy me… but at least I can sit comfortably while I’m envisaging Darling Johnny with his hair on fire. Have you noticed that women who keep you waiting always have skinny butts? This is because they live on lettuce leaves, chick peas and celery and are usually too busy coaching Johnny for his role as The Fairy in the School panto to remember about eating.

2. If there is a world wide famine you will be last one of the last surviving members of the human race. Your butt will be carved on cave walls, remembered in hieroglyphics and possibly carved in stone and erected alongside The Sphinx. New civilizations will worship at the cheeks of The Butt. (On the downside though it’s just possible you may be hunted down and eaten.)

3. It is my personal opinion (and I’m not prejudiced in any way) that the size of one’s butt is related to size of one’s brain. As a butt enlarges and matures so does the brain. Women with big butts are usually amazingly clever. This is because big butts are illustrative of the nutrition that is necessary for the continued development of the brain. Women with skinny butts usually have minuscule brains which is why they can still fit into children’s clothes and don’t know the difference between but and butt.

4. Men can get a firm grip on big butts. This is very, very satisfying. Sadly, men can’t get a proper hold on skinny butts without hospitalizing their owners. This is a major disadvantage if you are planning a night of rampant sex but can’t do so unless you’ve remembered to take calcium tablets for the last twenty years. I have it on very good authority that men secretly like a big butt, especially a butt which has style. Look at Jennifer Lopez; a typical example of a successful, high profile butt.

5. History repeats itself. Soon the era of the Skinny “Size Zero” Butt will be over. The Renaissance woman will return to mock the skinny butted women; knickers that droop from bony arses will be outlawed; itsy-bitsy bikinis will be burnt on beaches; Twiggy will be imprisoned for subversion. It will be the dawn of a new era that will live for a thousand years; The Age of The Big Butt.

Now where was I? Ah yes, cooking, cook books and celebrity chefs.

In my opinion, there are far too many celebrity chefs in the UK and far too many of their (overpriced) books. Now I don’t have any of their books (obviously) but I’ve flicked through them in shops when I’ve had nothing better to do. I’ve also studied them in depth when I’m at the houses of the women who purport to be my friends and I’ve been ensconced upon their toilet.( I live in a posh area where lavatory reading matter is on a par with a chic coffee table book.) I’ve never been impressed by the contents of these books. However, I’ve noticed if you happen to run out of loo paper the pages are very handy for the necessaries. (Albeit a little too glossy for my liking; I prefer the pages of a Sophie Kinsella novel which are usually very absorbent.) In addition to perusing these books I’ve also watched plenty of celebrity chef TV shows. So you see, I do know something about celebrity chefs….

… and will someone please, please tell me, WHY OH WHY, celebrity chefs CANNOT make a dish without the use of some overpriced, overrated ingredient that has to be especially couriered from such diverse places such as Istanbul, a small field in remote Scotland, or indeed a small delicatessen on the fringes of Hampstead Heath? Because…


I’ve observed that the top five celebrity chef ingredients are;

1. Truffles. (The only type of truffle I’m interested is a chocolate one; sorry, I’m just not interested in any ingredient that might originate from France and been snorted at by a pig.)

2. Mushrooms. (Usually a rare hybrid mushroom that they have picked themselves that very morning as they have nonchalantly strolled through the nearby woods with their wicker pannier swinging at their side as the sun rises romantically over their “small holding” (which extends to 30 acres) and has been purchased on the back on their overpriced cook books.)

3. Offal from a Royal Estate. (Disgusting stuff; not even the poorest people in the UK buy offal to actually eat it; they buy it to feed their dogs. There is nothing appealing about “Slice up your heart,” “Dice your kidney” or “Marinade your liver.” The only person who might be interested in these recipes is Hannibal Lector. In fact at this very moment I’m drafting a letter to Gordon Ramsey suggesting that he call his new book “A Fuckin’ Load of Tripe - 101 Ways to Make Offal Taste Even More Shite.” (Subtitled “Me and My Organic Cow.”)

4. Caviar. (Just in case you are completely ignorant caviar is actually fish eggs. This is not really an appetising concept; especially when you think of the amount of effluent pumped into our seas daily. However, if you want a nice glowing complexion you might as well give it a try.)

5. A rare nut harvested from the slopes of the Upper Andes which men have fought over and died for. Wars have started over it, politicians eulogised about it, and even The Pope has blessed it. It costs £2,000 per nut as is available at your local supermarket in a removable shell.

6. Ok, I know I said 5 but I’ve just remembered Parmesan Cheese. About which I will say; it stinks.

Now here are MY top five ingredients;

1. Water. God, this stuff is bloody marvellous; it stops anything from burning and it is readily available from your tap. However, I hastened to say that when I am having guests I do use the bottled variety.

2. Beef Gravy Granules. A fabulous, fabulous, miracle ingredient which will make any piece of cheap sinewy meat taste great if it’s been slowly cooked in it for 24 hours. In addition, if your in a particularly fowl mood, you can use its companion; Chicken Gravy Granules.

3. Tomato Puree. If you don’t have this Tomato Ketchup will do. It instantly adds colour and flavouring and is a sure fire winner with the kids. If you find yourself being in the unholy situation of having run out of both don’t forget to rinse out the Ketchup bottle with some water and use the dregs up.

4. Baked Beans. Provides substance to any stew or casserole and you have the satisfaction that they qualify as part of the daily vegetable quota. A kid’s favourite.

5. Red Wine. Failing that; white wine, vodka, sherry, brandy or methylated spirits. Adds pizzazz and an intoxicating addictiveness to your cooking. You can also get pissed with the remainder of the bottle.

So in answer to my question; “To cook or not the cook?” The answer is… No, not if I can possibly help it. However, I will happily eat anything prepared by anyone else - which may explain the size of my butt.

Oh, I haven’t finished on the subject of the wonderful Mr Ramsey yet but I’ll save that for another time. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a little poem;

There was a rude chef called Ramsey
Who had a lovely young Lambsey
He cut it to bits
It gave me the shits
And now poor Gordon feels lousy

Alas, I must now prepare tea for my boys…

Now where are those gravy granules?

© Jane Turley 2008


  1. Perhaps you need to go to my school of cooking. Everything has alcohol in it. Brandy/wine/flat lager I couldnt be bothered to drink so chucked it in the fridge.

    My special ingredient when I cook is "anything". Raid the cupboards and just use stuff up. No meal ever tastes the same twice, but hell, there is alcohol in there.

    Oh, and I dont cook it for too long once I have added the alcohol. That would be silly!

    Of course, being a bloke, I dont worry about the size of my arse. My head is so big it doesn't make a difference!

  2. Now Mr Random Stranger; I am liking you more and more! A man who doesn't care what he eats ... every woman's dream husband. No worrying about carefully cooked cuisine..just chuck in the out of date meat(with lashings of alchol), top it with green potato mash and grate the mouldy old cheese over the top... excellent. However, I should warn you it will not be long before you will be served up Baby's left overs... mashed swede, carrot and brocolli puree are not so appetising even for the most hardy of stomachs...
    I like men with Big Heads - can't think why...

  3. Hi Jane! Came over from Onedia's. I'm with you on the cooking. What a waste of time--so much work and nothing to show for it, after the meals over!

  4. In my experience if you serve the man in your life copious amounts of alcohol it deadens the pain of the cavalier approach to cooking of the woman in your life


    well written and entertaining but reflects the family obsession with bodily functions and butts

  5. Well now Mr Joint (So formal! But never mind I like a man with an air of distinction...)your wife has a cavalier approach to cooking does she? I sincerely hope it is not a family trait..but as they say you can always tell by looking at the mother in law...Your wife sounds like an excellent woman to me; such an approach to cooking is to be highly recommended.
    My experience says that Men are the biggest obsessives when it comes to butts and bodily functions. Indeed, men never take their eyes of my butt...although that may be because it blocks out all other vision...

  6. i think cooking for fussy babies and children got rid of any lingering cooking skills i had. I mean how many ways can you coom pasta or chips? I just wish it had diminished my appetite!

  7. Pasta..now there's an ingredient that sticks to your gut (both inside and out.) The only thing flour and water make satisfactorily is glue. As for chips I like to serve them up with a hint of charcoal which is extremely efective at blocking out all other tastes...
    Regrettably nothing has diminished my appetite either Amanda; which is why I have a part time job as the newest recruit to the Tellytubbies. Alongside Stinky Winky, Tipsy, La La and Poo I am now Wibbly Wobbly.

  8. Hey Jane! Brilliant stuff! There I was, just winding down for bed-time (you know; scoff too many After Eights and check on Rightmove/Google Earth) and there was your blog. Can I sue you for keeping me up late?

    It's time those celebrity chefs were taken down a peg or two ... I have to say that any recipe with more than five ingredients goes straight out of the window round here. Oh yes! About five years ago, I vowed never to buy another cookery book until I'd tried every recipe in the ones I already have. Pastry parcels with pickled egg anyone?

  9. Fordfocusmum, you are indeed a mum after my own heart; After Eights at bed time? Excellent. Here's why I like 'em too;

    1. Obviously; they're made of chocolate and chocolate is THE essential thing that must be stockpiled in every woman's pantry.

    2. They've got a minty taste; so no need to brush your teeth.

    3. They're made by someone else and come prepackaged; so need to cook. Just take 'em out of those lovely little wrappers (which make excellent minature planes) and shove 'em in. ( I find an accompanying flying aircraft noise very therapeutic.)

    Please send me your recipe for pastry and pickled egg parcels sounds... horrendous but I'll enjoy watching my husband suffer...

  10. You want me to add to a poem about Mr Ramsey? That's the most difficult request I've ever had. I'm up for it though, but as you know, I am a pompous, elitist artiste and will need several months to get drunk and summon my muses.

  11. Why, I would have expected nothing less from a pompous elits artist! I am picturing you now.. chewing your quill and blotting the ink...running your hands through your hair, the candle burning at your side....

    The strong thighs... the broad shoulders...an aroma in the air of papyrus and masculinity...

    Oh..umm...umm...cough, cough.. just got a little distracted there....

    I look forward to reading your verse... don't make it too saucy..

    unless it's cheese; I like cheese sauce.

  12. What an absolute riot Jane ! Couldnt agree more with you ! hate hate cooking .But yes I love watching cook shows -some kind of vicarious pleasure I guess


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