30 Days – Day #20: A Hobby Of Mine

I skipped past photography yesterday. I’ve talked about roleplaying before. That’s the big two out the window, right there. I’m honestly not sure that blogging counts as a hobby, and nor does pissing about on the internet. So here’s a thing it honestly surprises me to be writing about: cooking.

I love food, this much is no secret. I like to eat in posh restaurants (and less posh restaurants – good food is good food, and it doesn’t have to be fancy), and I can talk about tastes and flavours in a pretty convincing manner.

But in the last year or so I’ve started to take more pleasure in cooking than I ever have before – it used to be something I didn’t do, then it became something I did because I liked the end product, even if I didn’t enjoy the actual process, but of late I find myself taking pleasure in the cooking itself.

I’m not a very skilled cook, especially not compared to the huge list of Serious Cooks among my group of friends, and doubt I ever will be, but as long as a recipe doesn’t require much of an attention span or any particularly difficult culinary tricks, I seem to do OK. I did black pudding with caramelised apple, and a cider reduction a few weeks ago, and some basic marinaded pork with peaches turned out so well I made it again the following night. Given that a year ago, I basically cooked the same three pasta dishes a lot (and I still do, because they are bloody tasty) I count this as progress. I made a sage and rosemary butter for the first time last night to go with some pre-purchased venison tortellini, and while it hardly counts as cooking, as it basically required me to melt some butter and throw some herbs in it, then add lemon juice once it was off the heat, it was still something I’d never done before, and will be doing again.

I guess the big difference from before would be that a year or two ago, I cooked what I cooked, and that was it, but now, I’m much more willing to give something new a go, and even once I have, I find myself thinking of other dishes I could so something similar with, or wondering “what would happen if I replaced the sage with…” Not everything works, but before when it didn’t work, I’d have given it up as a sign that I couldn’t cook, but now I tend to make a note of what not to do, and think of another approach – I tried to do a pancake filling made of plums and bananas that didn’t end well (came out bloody tasty, but it was essentially a mess of disintegrated plums combined with sugar, butter and rum with some sliced bananas floating in it – it was tasty, but it wasn’t what I wanted) and I’ve got a pasta sauce involving mushroom and black pudding that I haven’t got right yet – I’m trying to get little cubes of black pudding to crisp up to provide texture as well as flavour, but they either come out soft, or they totally disintegrate into the sauce. But I know what I’m going to try next time…