I am far from a great cook, but I have certainly improved compared to my teenage self. The only way I was able to do this is through experience and trial and error. And here’s where bad dinners come in… Not every experiment will be a success!
There are different cooks and there are different families to please. My family was fed with a small number of dishes repeating very regularly. There were 3 types of soups and 5 types of main courses. The repetitiveness increased since my parents decided to cook our weekly dinners (or at least most of them) on Sundays. My parents were very busy running their own business and this is how this model of cooking family meals came about.
It didn’t really bother me, as all the dishes were cooked well and were a familiar taste I craved. I only rebelled against it when I was a teenager on a quest to loose weight, that’s when I started buying and cooking my own food.
In contrast, my (at the time) best friend’s mum was unemployed. She was bored and had an interest in healthy eating (she also believed in paranormal activity and palm reading, but this is a different story…). The combination of the two meant that she constantly tried new dishes or tweaked classical ones. Her daughter was not impressed! She would’ve loved to be presented with the same version of her favourite meals.
Since I am now a stay at home mum, and Daddy often works long hours, I am in sole charge of the kitchen. So, where do I fit in on the cooking scale? The innovator or a cook with a small repertoire? And crucially what does my family think about my cooking style?
Well, I used to go through phases. I’d try something new and if I liked it I would cook it quite often, with small variations, over a few weeks period. For example we’d often get pasta with a tomato sauce, the difference would be various sautéed vegetables in the sauce, and an addition of either bacon or chorizo. Most changes did not result in huge flavour differences.
There was a significant change in my approach to cooking when Little F was 6 months, as he started to share our meals. We followed Baby Led Weaning (BLW), which means we did not prepare purées for him. He’d eat exactly what we were having, so it all had to be healthy and salt free.
Another big change came with our transition to vegetarianism. I now try many new dishes, simply because I am still learning what constitutes a good/complete vegetarian meal, and I am dealing with a lot of new ingredients, like various types of beans, lentils and grains.
Of course, all this experimentation leads to some bad dinners, but it also means delicious dishes like this. The trouble in my family is that Daddy is a big fan of oriental and especially Thai cuisine. Or to make things even more simple, anything which has chili and some oriental spices in it passes as a good dinner. The case is quite the opposite with Little F, he certainly is not a chili fan! The effect is whatever I cook either one or the other will think that ‘dinner is not good tonight’.
You can not please everyone, so try to reach a balance and sometimes please one person, sometimes another, and don’t forget to cook something you like every now and then! And never, never become stagnated in the kitchen with the same old recipes, there is a wealth of flavours out there. So, hurrah for bad dinners! Next time your family complains about food send them over here 🙂
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