I will preface this by telling about my husband, and his obsession with quality food. He is not one to settle for 'whatever's around', 'this and that in the cupboard', or 'just some leftovers'. He is a master of re-creation, a wizard of foreign cuisine, a guru of little known secret ingredients. He (most) often actually uses the cookbook, and does things just right. There was even an incident once, which required me running out in the village streets at night, to make a (seemingly) covert oil exchange; David my neighbour and good friend's man was sent out with a bottle of pure vegetable oil, and I with my empty glass container to receive. Under the lone streetlamp available between our houses, he carefully poured my pale golden requirement. Apparently, olive oil has too much 'flavour' and couldn't possibly be used in cooking chinese food. Good lord NO! NOT the OLIVE OIL - AAAACK! It was either me get sent out in my slippers in the night to get the right kind of oil, or no dinner - he wouldn't entertain the thought of cooking with olive oil, the nerve.
Me, not so much. I CAN cook, and I do. But, honestly, left to my own devices, a nice can of Chef Boyardee (how I miss thee, a Canadian canned ravioli for the real homebody gourmet, way better than the Heinz and Branston's we have going on here), a PBJ sandwich, or Supa Neggs will do just fine. No time wasted, I can get on with my evening. I haven't got time to cook for an hour and a half for just me, and then start eating at 8:45 pm. That's a killer schedule I cannot handle. Oh, Supa Neggs you ask? It is actually soup and eggs, which has, for clear reasons, become known as Supa Neggs. You heat up a can of soup with a bit of extra water in a saucepan, and when it's crazy boiling, crack in 2 eggs, and slowly swirl them about and they cook into little eggy bits through the soup, sort of chinese style. Then a few drops of Tabasco and the delicious healthy concoction is finis!
When I do put the effort in and commit to cooking, I am always a freestyler. I have actually learned from cooking with Mike as sous chef generally what goes in what type of cooking, and just bung in the appropriate friends of ingredients, ta daa! Chinese needs ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar. Indian needs cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, and turmeric. Italian needs tomatoes, basil, garlic, and parmesan. Supa Neggs needs soup, eggs, Tabasco, and a saucepan. See, it's easy to cook!
Now that I am on my own, I am left to my own devices. I actually quite looked forward to the eating of 'whatever's around', 'this and that in the cupboard', and 'just some leftovers'; it was going to be liberating, relaxing, EASY. I started off well with this philosophy, while still trying to be healthy - after all, those vegetables and ingredients were still in the fridge from when Mike was visiting here last, I couldn't let them go bad. Healthy(ish), but really sad. So pathetic were my self-offerings I had to take some pictures of my worst meals (attached). One night I even used a pot of my youngest son's mush that I even deemed not good enough for him anymore, so as not to waste it, I added it to my sauce. It did turn out to be one of the better meals, actually. But then again that meal used a cooking pan, so it was a step above.