Friday, 4 April 2008

Home On The Range

It's all that Nigella Lawson's fault. I've started cooking again. Not just meatballs and frites, though as we all know they are totally delicious, but real homecooked gourmet grub. I used to be quite good at it, pre-children, but faced with endless demands for fish-dogs (hot dogs with fish-fingers instead of sausages, bloody gorgeous with tomato ketchup) and cheese and potato pie with sausages and baked beans (shaped to look like a face or a boat, obviously), I somehow went off the boil catering-wise. The Nigella Express cook book husband bought for me at Christmas (was that a hint, do you think?) has somehow kick-started my interest in actual cooking again and now the kids are grown, they're so grateful for a Mum dinner I can virtually get away with anything. Fresh tuna with black beans, spicy salmon, stir-fried just about anything. You name it, they're all now well and truly up for it, and so am I. Not that I am averse to opening a jar of Dolmio and bunging it into a pan of mince, or making a quick dash round to the chippie, somehow the luscious Nigella has caught my imagination with her easier than pie super-fast, minimum fuss dinners. She's caught my husband's imagination too, though in an entirely different way, but that's another story and absolutely nothing at all to do with the kitchen, if you get my drift.

Anyway, moving swiftly on, since my renewed enthusiasm for all things culinary (I've even started to make my own garlic oil for goodness' sake - please be impressed) it's become apparent that my knackered old kitchen could do with a refurb. Think I mentioned this before in a previous post. Husband was hoping that we'd tour a few kitchen shops, I'd get bored (this is what usually happens) because I don't see anything I like that we can afford, we'd go back home and think sod it, let's go on holiday instead. We were following this well trodden path and had almost got to the sod it stage, when suddenly (in John Lewis) I saw it. A range cooker. One grill, two ovens, one fan and one gas, five burners, a wok cradle, a griddle and a cute little rail to hang your tea-towel over, in a farmhouse kitchen kind of way. It comes in four colours. There's a chimney to go with it. With another cute little rail on that too. I've never had a chimney in my kitchen before, with or without a tea-towel rail. I think I want one. No, dammit, I need one.

So the internet marathon began. I'm now glued to the computer day and night trying to find the best possible price. If asked, I can quote all the different options, fuels, accessories and colours. I know what each model comprises, the pro's and cons of all of them, the available extras and delivery times PLUS haulage costs. In short, I could be on Mastermind with my specialist subject being "range cookers, dual fuel, gas and electric, circa 2008" and be assured of winning the trophy, no problem.

Predictably, the simple idea of tarting up the kitchen by adding a few well chosen bits and pieces here and there has turned into the threat of a full refurb, with a new cooker and fridge, tiling, lighting and units. The thing that worries me a bit is that if we do all of this, will I feel obliged to turn out culinary masterpieces day and night in order to justify the huge financial outlay? Whilst I'm having fun with food at the moment, I haven't forgotten that less than a year ago I was the one who reminded everyone that life was too short to stuff a mushroom, and now I'm contemplating equiping my kitchen with enough hardware to stuff just about anything I damn well please. That bloody yapping dog next door had better watch out.

But you know I can just see myself, making jams and baking cakes, taking huge sizzling joints of roast beef out of the oven (sorry, make that ONE of the TWO ovens, did I mention that?), producing fragrant casseroles, popping corks and sipping wine whilst cooking dinner... proper Mrs. Housewife kind of stuff. I'm even considering throwing away my old apron on which is printed the words "IF YOU THINK I'M COOKING DINNER TONIGHT, YOU CAN SOD OFF" such is my enthusiasm for this current project.

But does that image fit with what you know about me already? Or do you think I'll revert to type, get bored with domesticity, start making reservations for dinner instead of venison casseroles, only use either oven for reheating Marks and Spencer's Chicken Kiev and set fire to the tea-towel hanging over the cute little chimney rail because I've had a pre-dinner gin too many?

Difficult question.

61 comments:

CalumCarr said...

Don't bother with the range. Buy a one ring camping cooker instead. You'll not want to do anything fancy. You probably won't want to cook with it and you will end up microwaving everything.

Problem solved!!

laurie said...

i think all you need to emulate the lovely nigella is a couple of skin-tight tops with plunging necklines.

the rest is easy....

Sweet Irene said...

I think you are pulling the wool over your own eyes and are going way overboard. Tighten those reins. You can't refurbish a whole kitchen just because of Nigella's cookbook. Before you know it, you will be eating fish and chips again and Ikea's meatballs and everybody will ask you about your good intentions and you will look very foolish.

Swearing Mother said...

Calum, that is a great idea. Off to Milletts for one ring camping stove as we speak.

Laurie, Hi. Have got the skin-tight tops but unfortunately nothing much to go in them. Sigh.

Sweet Irene, you are of course completely right, I'm a sucker for the image thing. But those range cookers are SO cute Irene.

the mother of this lot said...

Well, I've got a range cooker with two ovens - but then you'd need it round here, with every meal being on the scale of Christmas dinner.

I like it. But I have to confess I've hardly used the wok cradle!

Valleys Mam said...

OHHHHHHH i want one -Ive always wanted one, but alas I dont think I will ever have one. there always seems to be something more important to buy.It's a bit like having a ferrari can u ever really show its worth,but do u know I dont care.If you want it have it.If you like to cook of course you will use it. Often I dont cook stuff because I dont have the space or the right atmosphere in my kitchen.
Its bloody freezing in there for a start.and it isnt welcoming and cute. May be I should get a refurb!

softinthehead said...

Quite a dilemma! I feel enough pressure to to try produce something delicious once in a while without something lurking in the kitchen, prodding at my conscience (spelling?) ! : )

Swearing Mother said...

Hi MOTL, I guess your catering is really serious cooking with your brood. The wok cradle looks like a weird piece of kit to me, I probably wouldn't use it either.

Valleys Mam, hello! I've always secretly wanted a range cooker, simply because of I have farmhouse tendencies. Which is odd really, considering I live on the edge of a city.

You have a point Softinthehead - I don't want to paint myself into a corner re catering. Having a posh cooker is one thing, but being changed to it quite another thing altogether!

Retiredandcrazy said...

Range cookers rock! I have had several and loved each one. My problem is that I have a husband that doesn't like food! Now there is a challenge.

Swearing Mother said...

Retiredandcrazy: You could always keep the range and cook for someone else's husband. Oooh that's naughty!

Expatmum said...

Don't know what your house is like but I know a few people who have had to have their kitchen floors reinforced because of the weight of some of them there stoves. (That's why they were originally intended for farmhouses - stone floors.) Wouldn't want to add to the kitchen refurbishment bill.

Maggie May said...

It'd be cheaper to throw away the cookbook! How many people in your family? Not sure, but if they are older & about to leave home, might it be better to spend the money on holidays or something?

Mopsa said...

I have to buy an electric cooker - a small one to poke in the scullery for when the truly ancient Aga turns itself off just before mates come round for supper. Ya know, I just can't get excited about it, so I haven't bothered looking - who wants to spend money on a cooker (and I LOVE to cook and eat)? Much rather spend the cash on really fabulous pans, le creuset and all that gubbins, and great dishes and bowls that actually goes to the table.

Swearing Mother said...

Hello there Expatmum, luckily we've got concrete floors. Good job we don't have a cellar as lots of other Victoria houses have, can imagine the fun and games there'd be reinforcing a wooden floor.

Hi Maggie May, well occasionally there are only two, sometimes four or five and very occasionally many more. See what you mean though.

Mopsa, you're quite right, but you have an AGA so there's not much better you can do than that really. I'd love an AGA but would have to learn to cook all over again I guess.

Debra in France said...

I would have to say 'go for it'. I love cooking and although I don't have a range cooker I have a fab 6-ring gas hob. I do have a brilliant log burner that I can put casseroles on and they cook beautifully and give the house a wonderful smell!

Semaj Mahgih said...

Anyway, moving swiftly on, since my renewed enthusiasm for all things culinary (I've even started to make my own garlic oil for goodness' sake - please be impressed)

Oh, highly impressed.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Go for it! I have the kitchen of my dreams that we put in two years ago whe we moved to our house that required a lot of renovation. But I absolutely love cooking and have a passion for it. I'm quite good too y'know!

It is the hub of our home and complete with large pine table, there is always people around to share it all with. Range cookers are great and we use the wok ring all of the time.

I can honestly say that I get immense joy out of having such a great kitchen now how sad is that?!

Having said that restaurants know us well aroud here and so does the kebab van!

elizabethm said...

Go for it SM. I used to have a range cooker in the house before last and it was fabulous. Loved using it and just made me feel cheerful to look at it. I know, how sad am I, but it's true. Will have another one in about 2012 when we refurbish this kitchen (think 70s cupboards, hideous beige tiles and gold spotlights, washed with a gentle mankiness which may or may not be mould).
You'll love it.

Swearing Mother said...

Debra, if there's one thing I'd like more than a range cooker, it's a log burner. Am beginning to get the feeling that I am living in the wrong place. Maybe I'm not such an up-town girl as I thought!

Semaj, I am so glad to have impressed you, as you have been doing that to me for so long now.

MOB: Am so glad you understand my stove urges. I too get joy out of rather strange things, but I'm learning to go with it now.

Oooh ElizabethM, know what you mean about mankiness, we have it in bucketloads.

merry weather said...

I don't know, but never mind Nigella (who I think is fab) for now, the world awaits Jane on telly at her range - making us all laugh our socks off etc. Just think, oh joy - a "real" woman cook!

CrazyCath said...

Not a difficult question at all. I think you are a woman after my own heart and would do as I would. Which is:

1. Insist on the total refurb costing and arm and a leg (hubby's arm and leg of course) with the TWO ovens, chimney and all mod cons.

2. After all that layout, complain that you cannot afford the very expensive ingredients required to cook gourmet meals.

3. If that fails, get too stressed at the thought of cooking gourmet meals as you are worried about the state of the finances. Only the women of the house worry about such things so you are safe with that one.

4. Open a jar / packet / tin or tell him that a meal out would lift your spirits and you might feel like cooking tomorrow if you were pampered tonight.

New kitchen with new range with two ovens AND a night out - result.

Revert to type. Deliberately. ;0)

Pam said...

You MADE garlic oil? I'm half impressed and half worried about you.
Look, even if you get bored in 6 months get the lovely cooker. You had me sold at "chimney rail"

Mean Mom said...

I struggle with a single oven, now, whereas I used to have a double one. My hob has 2 gas rings and 2 electric in case of power cuts, but I dislike the electric ones, so I manage with the 2 gas.

If you can afford a new kitchen, with range cooker etc, I think you should go for it! Sounds great to me.

Come to a tea party at my place and pick up an award, if you have a second to spare!

aminah said...

I know the feeling!!! Read this...


http://daysinwords.blogspot.com/2007/07/should-be-banned-from-tv.html

Should we take a law suit against her for inticing us with all that yummy food???

ha

Grit said...

i am well out of my comfort zone with posh cookers. and am i the only one who would like to punch nigella lawson in the face?

Suzy said...

Go for it... Life is short!!!

Just leave the dog out...

Love you.

Suzy

Swearing Mother said...

Merry, now that would really be something, SM on telly!

Cath, that is a great, great plan and I'm working on it already.

Hi Pam, don't be too impressed, it's only peeling a couple of cloves of garlic and bunging them in a jar of olive all, but it sounds impressive doesn't it? Can't be arsed with the chilli oil though, chillies make my lips swell up so I am excused that one.

Aminah, am going over to that blogspot asap. Nice to talk to you again.

Grit, no you are not. I can't stand those simpering looks either. Needs a punch in the face definitely but her recipes are brilliant.

Hiya Suzy, have lost the recipe for stuffed dog anyway, so it's safe for the moment as long as it stops bloody well yapping.

xx

The Fixer said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. Come again soon!

x

David said...

Simple is best. I remember going off to school some 30 years ago and my mother gave me a wok and advice. "one pot, easy clean, cooks everything, stir fry is healthy, try to stay sober in class"
I cut my teeth on a wok and learned that fancy convection, gadgets and silly electronic things just cost money and get in the way. Cooking is my art and I love to create with "foods" as the instruments or brushes if you will.A simple gas stove (gas is all I will ever use) and one good pan and I can create a symphony of dishes. Food is the music of my soul.
Great post, and I love, no LOVE your writing.
David

travelling, but not in love said...

Nigella is a big huge fake. She's pretending to cook in a pretend kitchen and then pretends to eat the food on a pretend bus full of pretend passengers. I mean really, do we honestly think Mrs Saatchi eats food from a tupperware container on the number 94?

And she's probably on a big huge commission from the company that makes the range.

Stick to drinking gin and cooking chicken kiev. If god had wanted us to cook fancy food at home he wouldn't have invented Marks and Spencers food, restaurants, gin and better things to do with our time.

Go on holiday instead. I hear Tahiti is nice.

Swearing Mother said...

Lovely to read you Fixer, enjoy your blogging!

David, thanks so much for those kind words. Have been over to your blog and will be back to read back posts ASAP. Meanwhile, hope your surgery goes well.

Travelling, if you reckon Tahiti is nice, the stove is history. Trusting your judgement in all things.

All Shook Up said...

Sod Nigella. Go over to Delia, you'll be amazed what you can rustle up with a frozen pie-crust and a tin of ready-fried onions. No need to feel indequate on the, ahem, bust front either once your OH's eyes get used to hers.

Mean Mom said...

Back again. Another award for you at my place, if you can find room for it.

Swearing Mother said...

Hello ASU!! lovely to read you once more. Husband would love to see more of Delia's muffins anyway, he always was a bit of a fan.

Mean Mom, coming over right now.

the mother of this lot said...

Sorry. Come and get an award.

CrazyCath said...

Hi SM! Got an award for you over at my place. If you can get through the long post you'll find it (or just scroll to where you see your name!) lol

Come over and pick it up.

CrazyCath said...

Whoops! Just checked your blog piccies - while I'm off telling everyone about their awards, you've been and got yours. Good. Well deserved. Glad it's up.

Swearing Mother said...

Thanks for that, Mother of This Lot. Very kind.

Cath, we must have been writing on each other's blog simultaneously!! Spooky or what?

Maggie May said...

There's an award waiting for you over at my place!

Swearing Mother said...

Thank you Maggie May, and thanks for your very kind words. It's a pleasure to read you.

Milla said...

fab blog. You will love it. It is a fine springboard, liking a cookbook. Seriously. We were semi-without a kitchen for about 18 months and devleoped a serious pub/takeaway habit, to the point where I would have scratched someone's eyes out to have the chance of "cooking" some sausages on a tray. Now we have the dream kitchen from heaven I really do think that I have turned into Nigella. ANd this is a whole 5 months on. Have even been mooting getting up earlier to fit in the need for another meal each day. Truly. No longer is "what's for supper?" the most irritating thing that anyone could ever say to me. Being responsible, I do have to point out that Other Cookers Are Available... We have 2 stainless steel in the wall things, and the kitchen is only a buildbase one (like Howdens or somewhere, basically cheap but tarted up with granite and nice "toys" - do not waste money on the doorsy bit of the kitchen since the salesmen just see you coming. The hand rubbing is only the start of it ...)

Swearing Mother said...

Thanks for that advice Milla, we're going to have a look at the Howdens stuff tomorrow I hope. But glad to hear you're all fired up re cooking again, worth the wait I reckon!

Norman said...

Go for it SM! Memories of our Rayburn/Aga range we had up in the far north all those years ago. It was coal fired and NEVER went out. Consequently my wife baked constantly, the kettle was on for making brews endlessly and even I got into making my own bread!
Just one word of warning, be prepared to live on a building site instead of a home for a month or two.
As for CrazyCath's advice, well, why not?

Swearing Mother said...

Hi Norman, thought you were going to Cyprus? Still packing?

Yes, think you and Cath are quite right, the range seems to be calling me. Not the really big stove sort, unfortunately, just dual fuel, but bigger than the little tiddly oven I have at present.

Stand by for tales of building angst. I can feel it coming on now.

San said...

That sounds like one dream range--a magnificent work of art in fact. Swoon. If/ when you get it, please, pretty please, post a picture of it, with your lovely tea towels dangling from the rails. And you pulling some incredible gourmet delicacy out of one of the ovens.

Allow us to feast our eyes.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

I don't know if I'm too late here to comment, but before you buy that gorgeous range, think. Think about cleaning that wok cradle and those two ovens. Nigella, I'm quite sure, doesn't clean her own oven(s). And maybe you have a Nigella lifestyle too. But if you don't ... I only mention it because I have a range cooker myself, stainless steel. Beautiful, when it's clean. Which isn't too often.

Suzy said...

I came back to reread this - An idea- Start your own catering business!!! With all the fancy gadgets and stoves, tv crews can start filming in your kitchen!!

Love,
Suzy

Swearing Mother said...

San, may well do that even though you probably won't be able to see me through the smoke. I have a habit of setting fire to stuff whilst off blogging.

Now there's a thought Wakeup, didn't really think about that aspect too much. Hmmm...... you have a point.

Suzy, Hi! "Swearing Mother's Super Suppers" or something like that? I can see it now, the effing and blinding that goes with my culinary efforts would certainly make it an Adult Only show.

CrazyCath said...

You're tagged - come and see!

OvaGirl said...

I think it's all about that tea towel rack frankly. You could always do the old Girl Guide thing and whip one up with lumps of wood and some aquare lashing. Not to blow my own bugle but at one camp I made a camp kitchen table with built in washing up tub frame and slatted dish rack. It was bloody beautiful but kept leaning to one side which would cost me valuable points for my patrol. Solution? Lash on a tea towel rack and cunningly hang a tea towel to balance the thing up.

Mean Mom said...

Here I am again! Was going to invite you to pick up a 'you cheer me up award' but I see that you've already got one, so I won't bother! The thought was there, though. Brilliant though this blog was, I'm a bit fed up of commenting on it now. Any chance of another one?? You're not ill, are you? Oh, not food poisoning, surely?

Mean Mom said...

PS Hope you're not really ill.

Swearing Mother said...

Brace yourself Cath, I'm on the way.

Ovagirl, hi! You could sue Aga or whoever for pinching that idea of the teatowel rail to balance things up. Did you patent it by any chance? Hope so.

Ah that's lovely Mean Mom. No not ill, just lazy. Little grey cells a bit sluggish at the mo.

meredic said...

I feel so inspired that I might just make toast this morning rather than dunk a biscuit!
Greetings fellow blogger.

Mid-lifer said...

Good God - 54 comments! I'd be delighted if that many read my ramblings!

Anyhoo - I just got Nigella Express for my bday and have been inspired. Instant chocolate mousse was knocked up the other day! Coincidentally we are now looking at a new hob because ours kind of broke apart as I embarked on my Nigella inspired cooking rampage

Swearing Mother said...

Meredic, greetings, nice to read you!

Mid-lifer, Hi. It's funny how we all need better equipment once Nigella's got her hooks into us.

Mean Mom said...

You've been tagged over at my place. See my last blog for details. Running away, now, very fast.

Swearing Mother said...

You little tinker, just when I'd given up blogging forever.

travelling, but not in love said...

what's this, two weeks and no posts?

Do you need a little motivation, or do we just need to move you away from the gin bottle?

Swearing Mother said...

Oh Travelling, so glad you called. I've really "got one on me" as we say in Brum.

Lovely to read you.

x

Justin said...

4My range cooker from rangemaster worth every penny. I wanted so much a black gas range cooker and now I have it. I can finally say that I am a happy cook.