Cook

MAKE THE MOST OF EVERYTHING YOU GROW

Mam Gran
My Gran Laura Fenwick and Mam outside their house in Oxford Terrace, Gateshead, circa 1960. Love those slippers…

First, let me say, I am no gourmet chef. I cannot be bothered to faff on with ridiculous arty-farty recipes which leave you still hungry at the end of dinner.

I love simple meals made with the best ingredients to hand and that usually involves something home-grown. Of course, the fresher things are, the less they need doing to them.

There’s also the problem of gluts in good years – well, it’s tomatoes, plums and garlic every year here, plus runner beans and courgettes in good summers.

I come from a long line of cooks who didn’t have the luxury of a lot of choice or money, especially my maternal Gran during World War 2, yet they could turn out great meals from next to nothing, with no waste.

Paternal grandparents George and Polly Watson - she cooked for five kids!
Paternal grandparents George and Polly Watson – she cooked for five kids!

Also included here are old favourite recipes to take advantages of cheap prices in the shops – or those black bananas that the kids won’t eat.

There’s a lot of Italian influence, as that country’s regional cooking is closest to my own taste.

Necessity has been the mother of invention in a lot of cases, especially when crops have been scanty when bushes or trees were newly planted, or overwhelming like last year’s plum harvest (Lizzie doesn’t keep very well).

Many thanks obviously goes to my Mam for the donation of her old recipe books, which I’m still trying to decipher, both Grans and my old pal Bev Glover for the kind donation of her grandmother Nelly Yeoman’s ‘Pan-Yan’ pickle, which is a corker.

A note on measurement – I was one of those poor mixed infants who were taught Imperial and metric around the time we entered the EU. As a result, there’s a mix of both systems, although not in the same recipe, as I switch from one to the other. Blame Edward Heath, that’s all I’m saying.

That’s about it – apart from cakes, there’s a loose disregard of scales. Go by what it looks like, tastes like and enjoy.