Cookbook for my Mother

Just after my mother moved back to Denmark in 1998 I gave her a microwave to enable her to defrost frozen foods in small quantities. This was not the only change in her cooking life - she was also exposed to a deep-freezer, of course not for the first time in her life, but for the first time for herself - and a food processor. She had to learn to cater for one person only and not a small army of hungry souls. This was the main reason that started me off writing this little quick and easy cooking guide for people who have to cater for themselves. Most of the recipes were tested by my mother while she was still alive, although she has never seen the book; nor the website. I used to fax the recipes to her so that she could try them out and she would fax me corrections back, it became a lovely game that we both enjoyed.
She used to be a good cook but age tends to make one forget a lot.

I hope that the booklet/website will not only provide suggestions but also advice as to what you ought to have in the larder and the storage-cupboard. I hope to cover shopping advice for raw ingredients as well as preparation of the food.

It may seem impossible to consume the recommended five servings of fresh fruit and vegetables a day but by adding some to/in each meal it will soon add up. For instance: a glass of fresh fruit juice for breakfast; a salad for lunch; an apple or banana as a snack during the day; 1-2 vegetables for dinner and some fruit for afters; and hey presto there you have your 5 a day! Remember that frozen vegetables are just as healthy as fresh ones.

Another tasty way of upping your daily consumption is to make a stir fry. Remember that soy sauce is cheaper from Chinese supermarkets and/or from small ethnic grocers and/or from the market and it is also possible to purchase gluten free soy sauce.

Don’t purchase a pre packed bag of carrots when you only need 1-2, buy them loose, it’s cheaper and more cost effective in the long run. Don’t purchase prepared fresh salad and/or grated cheese, do it yourself and save at least ½ the cost, the same applies to diced chicken/meat for stir frying, cut it yourself and save money.

Purchase a lump of cheese, cut it into suitable portions. Grate some of it and put it into a freezer bag. Freeze what you don’t require for a week. The same applies for chicken and/or meat. Buy chicken with the bone in and dissect and cut it yourself.  Buy a cheap joint of meat and dice it, split what you don’t require into portions and place these in freezer bags and freeze for later usage (remember to mark what is inside the bags).

Fresh fruit is not always great value, it's not quite ripe or it doesn’t really taste of anything, try my quick and easy cheer up menu.

Cooking may sound off-putting, not sexy and definitely not something a man does (why not? Lots of chefs are men). It is ever so easy, really!

Most of my recipes don’t require any particular skills.

Cook some spaghetti and while it is cooking make the sauce. If you are in a hurry toast some bread. Melt some butter in a frying pan, toss an egg in and whisk it with a little milk, salt and pepper, keep stirring and when dry serve the scrambled egg on the toast. It's as simple as that.

Use a cookbook as inspiration not as a bible.

Most of the recipes take 5-20 minutes to make and because it is expensive to prepare food for one person only, the recipes are for 3-4 persons. Split the leftovers into single portions and freeze them, thus enabling you to make your own tasty and nourishing quick-food, which can be eaten whenever you want to. Thus it is possible to eat varied meals on a daily basis.

The idea is to cook once; eat for some time.

This sentence is just a reminder that it is possible to shop and cook well in advance of eating it. You will have fun preparing the food and freeze it for later use. It even becomes exciting to “raid” the freezer, because you do forget what goodies you have cooked.

It is important to always have the basic ingredients in store, but only what you like, don’t buy anything you don’t like. Always have a good supply of small freezer bags and containers. (Use plastic containers rather than aluminium ones because these can be used in the microwave).
 Always write on the bags/containers what you have put in them as you will not be able to recognise the content once it’s frozen.

In the larder:

    • Rice – some different types (basmati, long grain, wild and other)
    • Spaghetti and pasta
    • Potatoes (will last for up to 1 month)
    • Fresh vegetables.  Some will  last up to a week such as
      • Carrots, leeks, cabbage and cauliflower
    • Butter (for cooking and spreading) oil (olive & sunflower) and margarine
    • Flour, salt, pepper and other herbs and spices
    • Some cans/packets of ready-made gravy, sauces and soups
    • Cans of tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, mushrooms, and beans

When shopping for the freezer always split each item and repack it into portions, for example if you purchase 500g minced meat split it into two bags. Split a pack of 4 chops into individual items before freezing them. The individual packs use less space in the freezer than the pre-packed items and it will save you money by purchasing larger packs/special-offers and then splitting/re-packing them into individual portions. Don’t forget to write on the repackaging what’s inside!

In the deep freezer:

There is no need to split bags of frozen peas, prawns, sweet corn and so on, as you can open the bag and take out as much as required, and put the bag back into the freezer after having closed it (with a freezer-bag peg/tie).

    • Bags of Peas, Sweet corn and mixed vegetables.
    • Chicken pieces and maybe a whole small chicken (poussin).
    • A small pack or two of minced meat
    • Some lamb, pork or beef chops, whichever one prefers, individually packed.
    • A small joint of lamb, pork or beef whichever one prefers
    • A pack of smoked salmon

As a reminder of when to purchase staples e.g. oil, mark the bottle approximately 2 fingers from the bottom, and when that line is reached; purchase another. The same applies for staples such as flour, sugar, rice, and oats and so on, never use the last portion; purchase a replacement before using the last portion! Always have a shopping list at hand to add items to as needed.