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?