Friday, 31 October 2014

The Simple Joys of Cooking

Since we’ve moved into our house here in England, I have been stuck at home Monday through Friday with no where to go and no way to get there.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m kind of enjoying it.  It’s like a long extended staycation.   We are in the process of trying to buy a car for me but have run into one problem after another (hard to believe you can walk onto a car lot in the US on any given day of the week and drive off in a new car an hour later because that is soooooo not how things are happening here for us right now).  There is only 1 bus that comes through town once an hour each day and it isn’t going in a direction that I am familiar with yet. 

So, basically I have been spending my time rediscovering my stay-at-home mom roots – doing laundry, cleaning, taking care of the girls (blah, blah, blah), and COOKING!  Oh how I LOVE to cook!  I love looking for recipes, love going to the farmers market and loading up my bags with more food that I can use in a week, and I love cooking from scratch.  I can easily spend the entire afternoon in the kitchen with nothing on my mind but what I am making, and as the entree is put into the oven for the finishing touches and I have a few minutes to relax, I put on some good dinner music, pour a glass of wine for myself and end up back on the computer searching for tomorrow's dinner.  

The one downside to cooking from scratch is that it takes time.  I don’t mind spending the time cooking.  That’s not the problem.  The problem, as many of you can attest to, is simply finding the time.  Back in Indy over the past year, I was working in the office again and didn’t have much time to cook from scratch.  In fact, the last month we were there, we were so busy that we ended up having takeout several times a week which is not like us at all.  But, when you are working a lot and moving your family to England, something has to give, and that something was cooking. 

Now that I am here and have more time on my hands, I have dove back into the wonderful world of home cooking.   It’s been a bit challenging as I don’t have a car to get to the grocery store during the day.  That means we take family trips to the grocery store twice a week:  once on Saturday morning (which includes a stop at the local coffee shop), and again one night during the week.  On that night, as soon as Eric gets home from work, we all pile into the station wagon and drive to Ashby-de-la-Zouch where I am treated to a lovely dinner out by my husband (everyone knows you should never go to the grocery store on an empty stomach, and certainly not with hungry children in tow) and then hit the local Tesco (the UK version of Super Target).  I bring with a well-planned list of ingredients I need to make the week's meals, but inevitably, I cannot find everything on the list because often the shelves are bare by evening and we simply haven’t been able to find certain foods that are readily available in the US. 

This rosemary bush is taller than Leah!
Because I have not been able to spend some leisurely time perusing the shelves at the grocery store by myself yet (remember – I’m shopping with the husband and 2 kids, so leisurely grocery shopping isn’t an option), we do not have the fully stocked kitchen here that I am use to.  So, I’ve had to be a bit inventive and keep things simple.  I am loving it!  Yesterday, I spent the afternoon in the kitchen making marinara sauce for the evening’s meal of Chicken Lasagna Rolls (which used leftover chicken that I had slow roasted in the oven the day before) and homemade Rosemary Focaccia bread.   We had run out of bread for the week so I searched the internet for a simple bread recipe as I only have the basic ingredients and hit upon this wonderful looking Focaccia recipe that consisted only of flour, yeast, water, salt, olive oil, and last but not least, rosemary, and guess what?  We just happen to have a beautiful, gigantic rosemary bush growing right outside the kitchen window!  
My afternoon's work!  Sorry, forgot to take a picture of the Lasagna Rolls.
As I cooked and baked away, the kitchen got very hot.  It was a mild afternoon outside, and even though this house is old, it has extremely thick walls and seems to be very well insulated.  Lucky for me, our kitchen includes this beautiful and oh so fun half door.  I’ve always wanted to live in a house with one of these.  So, I opened the top half to let in some fresh air and my what a pretty picture it makes.  

I hope to soon have a car and when I do, I very much look forward to exploring the area a lot more for good sources of food.  We’ve seen many wonderful looking bakeries, cheese shops and veggie and fruit markets that I can’t wait to visit.  I’m not sure I want to give up our Saturday morning trips to Ashby though.  I rather like having coffee with the family and they really do make very good mochas here!

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