I HAVE not been very popular in our household after I suggested we shouldn’t bother with a roast every Sunday.
My wife had just served up roast chicken and all the trimmings, but declared she was exhausted from cooking it.
Hence my suggestion we shouldn’t bother with it every week.
The idea went down like a lead balloon. You’d have thought I’d suggested we give up food completely.
Despite being tired from doing all the cooking my wife put up a robust protest: “the roast must stay, it’s the food highlight of the week,” she declared.
We generally take it in turns to cook a roast, although I have to admit I haven’t done it recently because I have been working on Sundays.
I used to enjoy cooking a roast, but because we tend not to have one during the summer, I have got out of the habit and now the thought of all the work has put me off.
The cost of the food and the amount of energy needed to cook a roast is the biggest factor though.
Seeing that dreaded Smart Meter go into the red zone for almost two hours while the oven is on does nothing for my appetite.
Then there are all the dishes. We seem to use every plate, piece of cutlery and pan. Every worktop is covered with dishes after a roast has been cooked.
All in all with the preparation, cooking and clearing up, a roast is a four-hour job. Yet it is consumed in 20 minutes.
But there’s no doubt about it, it’s still one of my favourite meals, so I couldn’t give up on it completely.
If my Mum were still alive she would be horrified by the idea of not having a roast every Sunday.
I can’t remember a single Sunday during the winter months when we didn’t have a roast as I was growing up.
I loved them; my sister was less keen. She would push the vegetables around the plate, trying hard to make it look like she’d eaten them.
She was made to stay at the table until she had finished but would often hide her carrots and sprouts under a cupboard.
This was during the 1970s when the economic situation was as bleak as it is now and yet somehow my Mum, who was a single parent having been widowed at a young age, managed to scrape together the money for a roast every week.
In fact, she was cooking something from scratch every single day. As well as roast on a Sunday, we’d always have pasties on Saturday. There’d be liver and onions on a Monday with raw fried potatoes. I wasn’t so keen on the liver, but loved the raw fried potatoes. I wish I knew how she made it. All I can remember is the thick, peppery gravy.
Then as money got tighter during the week, we’d have potato cake smothered in melting butter.
Again, I wish I knew how she made it. I haven’t come across anything else like it since.
It’s one of the many things we take for granted when we’re children.
Meals magically appear on the table, but you have no real understanding of how they got there. Some of it you’d hate, but most of the time it was good, wholesome, fresh food.
Then there was the baking. Most days there would be something to go with a cup of tea when we got home from school.
Yeast buns, date and lemon slice, fairy cakes, a boiled fruitcake or a sponge.
My Mum would have been a fantastic contestant on the Great British Bake Off, although she’d have had no time for all the fancy works of art they create on there.
I have mentioned before in this column how I have tried to recreate some of my childhood food memories with varying degrees of success.
None of my attempts have turned out anything like the ones my Mum used to make, but I will keep practicing.
One memory I have from around this time of the year is the Baby Burco boiler being brought down from the loft to make Christmas puddings.
I can’t pretend to know what sort of wizardry was going on in the kitchen during that process, but I can remember it seemed to go on all day and we got to lick the spoons at the end.
I’ve never attempted to make a Christmas pudding, but I have had a go at making a Christmas cake for the last few years and they’ve turned out okay.
However, a bit like a roast dinner, a Christmas cake is a costly thing to make in both time and money, so I don’t think it will be making an appearance this year.
It seems to be a bit of a struggle to get enough eggs for a start!
Meanwhile, the roast is definitely here to stay, for the time being at least.
My wife is right; it is the food highlight of the week and with everything else so gloomy at the moment we all need something to look forward to. Roll on Sunday!
Bye for now.