Perhaps my strangest adventures these last 12 months or so have occurred very close to home in that terrifying place known as The Kitchen!
Now for those who know me will confirm that until my escape, I spent as little time as possible in the kitchen, usually either to raid some snacks or very nobly doing the dishes.
However part of my escape clause was that I would now not only do some 'chores' but the majority of the shopping and cooking too. Easy said but not so easy done as my cooking skills in the first 24 years of marriage amounted to no more than toast or a rare pizza in the oven, resorting more often than not to the safety of the local takeaways instead.
However I've approached things logically, watched a few cookery programmes, acquired and actually read a few recipe books, made some terrible blunders along the way but now a year or so on have filled my wee menu book (yes, sad I have to write down all the steps involved and ingredients as I can't be relied upon to do it all automatically!), with a fine selection of almost 50 recipes!
Okay these range from simple sausages and Gas Mk 4 specials to the more challenging (to me anyway) enchiladas, chili, home-made burgers, meatloaf, beef wellington and various rice and pasta dishes, yum!
Anyway the reason I choose to mention this is since receiving TV's Hairy Bikers latest cookbook for Christmas, I've been able to flex my culinary muscles even further with some cracking new recipes which are not only easy to follow but tasty too.
So far so good, until with a few successful meals from their book under my belt I embarked on the rather daunting looking "Special Cassoulet", a hearty concoction of meats, veggies, beans and sauces, mmmm, but how hard could it be?
The prep and cooking time for this dish isn't short, around 2 1/2 hours which for a slow coach like me equates to about 3 hours. Undaunted I made this my target for Sunday's family meal and eagerly bought up the extensive list of ingredients the day before and set off to the kitchen late afternoon in good time.
As expected, it took longer than advertised to chop, trim and fry my way through the various steps and then transfer the cooked contents to a casserole dish before adding the rest of the long list of ingredients. My dish was close to overflowing at this stage but I was pretty chuffed at how appealing it both looked and smelt, particularly after adding the required red wine and treating myself to a little slug.
I then noticed that there was a small step still required before placing the pyrex dish in the oven, calling for it to be simmered on the hob for a bit before covering and being slow cooked in the pre- heated oven.
Wondering how long it would take for this feast to 'simmer' I intently watched the glass dish and its contents starting to warm and bubble on the hob, feeling a swelling sense of pride that I could add another master dish to my menu book. Then of course the inevitable happened as the noise of my pyrex dish cracking into a dozen pieces filled the air as it spat its carefully nurtured contents all over the hob, dripping down the oven door onto the floor!
Lovely! Not a lot I could say or do really other than screech for help and switch off the gas supply as my lovingly prepared dish seeped everywhere embedded with chunks of glass. My call quickly brought my wife and youngest son running to my aid and gamely helped with the tidying up, not before of course asking how on earth I didn't know that warming glass on a hob was not the wisest thing to do?
I made a feeble attempt at saying I was just following the recipe but my wife was wise to this and grabbing the book read out the offending step of "transferring everything to a flameproof casserole dish".
I didn't of course have a decent reply so sheepishly took the flak as I swigged more wine and reached for the Chinese takeaway menu.......oh well, maybe some things don't change after all!
(This is not how my special cassoulet looked!)