Our kitchen is as tiny as kitchens get. We can’t all fit in it at once. It is very narrow and tricky to navigate with a whingeing toddler clinging to your legs. I find it stressful and hazardous cooking in our kitchen with the children underfoot.
Then there’s also the fact that cooking proper meals and doing the stay at home parent thing is a proper full time job, whereas I have decided to dedicate my time to doing a half-arsed job of both roles. If I use my afternoons to cook and prepare family meals, there is no way I would be able to hold down my freelance work.
Ben’s Beginners have commissioned a short video imagining a world where families no longer need a kitchen in their homes. Although the concept of an estate agent showing buyers round a house with no kitchen does seem a tad dramatic – no kitchen at all? Really? – rather worryingly, I can almost see the slippery slope to getting to the point where a kitchen is not classed as an essential part of the house.
Modern parenting more often than not sees both parents working, whether outside of the house or from home, fitted in around the job of raising a young family. The dedicated homemaker role is becoming a rare thing. Plus, you can do a lot with a microwave and convenience meals these days.
The ad made me think, how easily could we, as a family, live in a house with no kitchen? Could we, one day in the future, see kitchens downsized to the bare minimum to make way for more living space?
Within my roles at home, I haven’t prioritised cooking. But luckily, Sam steps up to the plate here and cooks excellent meals for us every evening. My preferred appliances may be the microwave and the toaster, but the children see Sam doing a proper job of the cooking every single day, and they aren’t short of nutritious meals as they get the leftovers for lunch. Plus, we aim to always eat family meals together at the weekends. I don’t worry that our children will grow up without learning how to cook, but that is all down to Sam – were he also inclined to my lazy attitude to cooking, then yes, there would be a real chance that the boys would never see cooking at home as a normal thing to do.
Sam’s new job will see him travelling for one week (and sometimes longer) every month. Eek. It’s just not acceptable for me and the boys to eat the whole gamut of ‘things on toast’ that frequently, so during those weeks, I have vowed to take a step back from the work-life juggle, and put my main focus on cooking family meals made with fresh ingredients.
My secret weapons for this task are as follows:
1. The Oh She Glows cookbook by Angela Liddon (I have been a reader since the start in 2008 after a google search on mineral make up landed me on Angela’s blog). I am not vegan, but I figure this is a great way to gain inspiration for eating fresh, natural foods.
2. Arming myself with easy-to-achieve recipes in advance will mean I’m less likely to give up on the idea of cooking a proper meal before I’ve even started – cooking might come naturally to some, but I’ve been out of practise for so long that I need a game plan to get me started. I can’t rival Sam’s curry masterpieces loved by our family, but this Ben’s Beginners Chicken Tikka Boom meal looks very feasable for me to make (see the bottom of this post for the recipe). Using ready-made rice is a likeable compromise that makes this meal seem a much easier task in the limited time I have.
My idea of a big family kitchen where we can cook and prepare meals together, and eat together round a big table every evening hasn’t quite happened yet. It is still an important part of my dream for a future house, and I am hoping we will get there one day. Our current set-up does make it impossible for us to all hang out in the kitchen, we are really lacking in preparation space for the kids to join in with making food, and space on our dining table is at a premium. But that doesn’t mean that we should put our values of healthy eating on hold until a later date when we have a ‘proper’ family kitchen, or when I’m less busy with work. It’s something that I need to refocus on, because it’s too easy for short term habits towards food to become lifelong attitudes.
Check out the Ben’s Beginners YouTube channel for tons of videos designed to spark childrens’ enthusiasm for tasty, healthy food.
Chicken Tikka Tikka Boom with Pilau rice
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
YOU WILL NEED…
For the Chicken Tikka
6 skinless and boneless chicken thighs, chopped into 3cm pieces
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground coriander
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
120ml Greek Yogurt
For the sauce
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 x onion, sliced
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. tomato paste
1 x 400g tinned plum tomatoes
125ml single cream
Handful of fresh coriander
Other ingredients for serving
2 x Uncle Ben’s Express Pilau rice
Poppadoms/Indian breads (optional)
HERE’S HOW TO MAKE IT
Tikka the chicken
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.
In a large bowl mix together the spices, lemon juice, garlic, yogurt and a pinch of pepper to season until well combined.
Add the chicken and coat with the spicy yogurt.
Put all the chicken pieces onto an oven tray lined with foil and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked through.
If the chicken is getting too brown cover with foil.
Give it some sauce
While the chicken is in the oven…
Heat the oil in a large frying pan.
Add the onion and cook on a low heat for 5 to 10 minutes until it’s lovely and soft and brown.
Add the garam masala and tomato paste and cook for a few minutes more. Then add the tinned tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the cooked chicken and single cream. Then season with pepper and sprinkle over the coriander leaves.
10. Heat the rice (following the packet instructions) and serve with the curry. Boom.