In the early 1970s, the Sensitive New Age Guy
hadn't been born. But he was quietly incubating
At the time, I was features editor of a daily
newspaper in Wellington, New Zealand. I worked with a lot of male
journalists and I discovered that quite a few of them were closet
cooks - or wanted to be. Tired of a diet of beans on toast, bacon
and eggs, and curried mince, these bachelors appointed me as their
unofficial culinary adviser.
We'd retire to the paper's "branch office"
- the local pub - after work. Someone would sidle up to me, recharge
my glass then casually whisper: "I've bought the blade steak
like you suggested. Now how do I make the casserole?" A couple
of days later, flushed with success and confidence, they'd report
on their blossoming kitchen skills and ask for another recipe.
I perceived a need, so I started writing a column for novice cooks.
That was the beginning of my food-writing career.
The column proved popular with readers, both
male and female, and continued until I took a career break to
raise a couple of sons. While the first, Ben, was a baby, I edited
a collection of my columns for a bachelors cookbook, "Man
About the House." After the second son, James, was born I
had an approach from a Sunday paper to write a weekly food column.
I called it "Dining In" and it featured a mix of family
life and family meals.
Sometimes, I had to lie to my kids about what
they were eating, at least until they'd given a dish a chance.
An ox tongue caught my eye at the supermarket one day. I smuggled
it into a tightly-lidded pot and let it quietly simmer away with
some honey, a dash of cider vinegar, and an onion stuck with cloves.
I surreptitiously skinned it while the boys were out, and later
carved it rapidly and in private while the table was being set.
One boy claimed a good helping for himself,
saying he loved corned beef. "Same," said the other,
demanding equal shares and going for the mustard sauce. All might
have been well had the super-observant James not suddenly zoomed
in on the edge of a slice of meat. "It's furry!" he
exclaimed, eyeing me as though I might have cooked the cat. Closer
inspection, and the penny dropped. That furriness was not dissimilar
to the appearance of...
"Tongue!! It's tongue, isn't it?"
he accused. Ben had reached the point of no return and was actually
enjoying his meat. "Just eat it," he urged. "It
tastes like corned beef." While our sons are no longer at
home, there are the regular phone calls - "Mum, how do you
make tabbouleh?" "How long do you roast potatoes?"
"Can I borrow your Jamie Oliver book?" "What do
you call that stuff you put in the sushi rice?"
Here, at the bottom end of the earth, we enjoy
a reputation for our country's clean, green image. The local produce
is superb and I enjoy sourcing and experimenting with it. I tend
to regard my refrigerator and pantry as a collection of ingredients
in search of a recipe. My kitchen is the most important room in
my house. I worked very closely with an architect on its design
and it is pretty close to perfect. It suits my way of cooking.
There's plenty of room for an audience, plenty of storage space
so there's no bench clutter, and plenty of bench space. I count
myself blessed. I can combine my two great loves - cooking and
writing - and I use a digital camera to illustrate my work.
This is a recipe I developed to mark the occasion
when Kiwi cricketer Richard Hadlee took his 400th test wicket.
Rack of Lamb Hadlee with Red Currant Sauce
2 rack of lamb (each with about 9 chops)
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon orange juice
finely chopped parsley
1 cup red currants (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
1/2 cup chicken stock
Mix together the mustard and orange juice and
spread over the top of each rack of lamb. Mix together the breadcrumbs
and parsley and pat into the mustard. Preheat the oven to 200C
and roast the racks of lamb for 10-15 minutes (rare to medium
rare). Remove from oven, cover with foil, and allow to stand for
5-10 minutes. Place all the sauce ingredients in a pot and simmer
for 15 minutes. Remove the cloves and press the sauce through
a sieve. Simmer a further five minutes to reduce. Spoon a little
on each plate and top with 2-3 lamb chops. These are easily separated
by carving between the ribs. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.
Bio: Pat Churchill lives in Wellington, New Zealand
and has worked as a journalist and in corporate relations. Her
Internet food column, Kiwi
Kitchen, recently won the New Zealand Guild of Food Writers
Ferndale Electronic Media Award for Information Technology. She
has also recently completed an ebook, The
She is married with two adult sons and her hobbies include culinary
research and genealogy. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org