Today I am on the Blog Tour for A Curious Cook by Bridget Morton and I am here with an interview for you all.
Before I share that though, here’s some information on the book.
Title: A Curious Cook Author: Bridget Morton Publisher: Clink Street Publishing Published: 28th January 2021 Format: Paperback Source: N/A Summary: A comprehensive and supportive guide to vegetarian cooking for people with coeliac disease.
Bridget Morton puts her own personal experiences of living with coeliac to good use in the kitchen, whipping up nutritious, delicious and comforting dishes designed to help manage her symptoms.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I was taught to cook by many people: my mother, grandmother, teachers at primary and secondary school; and later by reading and cooking from books, eating in restaurants and re-creating the recipes at home. Food has always represented the heart of the family and of life for me. My mother was a great baker who, until she returned to teaching, made all our cakes and biscuits. She would have all of us – me, my sister and two brothers – with her round the kitchen table, each with a bowl, mixing ingredients for a sponge cake, or maybe Anzacs, the Australian biscuits of her home which she still loved to make.
When I started my own food journey, I discovered a world of different flavours and, when I stopped eating meat, textures. Guided by gifted cookery writers like Madhur Jaffrey and Claudia Roden, I learned a whole new world of food.
Being in the kitchen is being in a happy place. I love the calm and, with the help of Radio 4, I can slip into another world of pots and pans and ingredients. Like gardening, cooking is an activity you can lose yourself in, an escape from everyday cares. I am not a fast cook. I would be rubbish on Master Chef – or for that matter in a restaurant kitchen! Speed is not the point. I cook slowly and carefully, re-reading the list of ingredients making sure I have not missed anything out, and following the method. And then at the end there is something tasty to eat.
Once I have mastered a recipe, a technique, a combination of flavours, I feel ready to go off-piste. I try some different spices, use other vegetables. And if I make a mistake it does not matter. I will have learned something and after all, few mistakes are fatal. It may not be exactly what I planned but it is still edible, and I will have an idea of how to do it differently next time.
Cooking gives me a level of independence in what I eat. This is particularly important for anyone who has a particular dietary requirement, be that a preference or a medical condition. There are plenty of ready meals available in supermarkets but that is an expensive way of eating and you have no control over the additives. Cooking from scratch, I know exactly what my food contains, and can afford the odd indulgence because the basic ingredients are cheaper than buying pre-prepared meals. I can cook food unique to my life, tastes and needs. If a recipe contains an ingredient I do not much care for, I can substitute something else or leave it out altogether.
I find cooking with leftovers particularly satisfying. Born in the late 1950s I have an absolute horror of waste. I read articles in magazines which urge people not to waste leftovers. What does that even mean? Apart from providing a quick lunch that just needs heating through, leftovers can offer a way into part of, or all of, another meal. Leftover mashed potato might be turned into potato cakes, or the topping of a vegetable bake.
Cooking is also nostalgia. Many people have treasured recipes handed down through the family. With me it is more a way of living. Like my mother and grandmother, I would not dream of buying cakes or jam. When I have chutney bubbling away in my preserving pan I am transported back to my mother’s kitchen. When I make blackberry vinegar, I am instantly in my grandparents’ caravan in one of those far off summers, sitting down to Sunday lunch which always started with a slab of grandma’s billowy Yorkshire pudding with blackberry or raspberry vinegar drizzled over it.
Cooking allows me to eat with the seasons. Like many people, I suffer from SAD (Seasonally Affected Disorder). As the nights draw in and the temperature drops, so does my mood. One way of combatting this is to look forward to those special ingredients that appear in the autumn. Winter squash soups and curries, stewed blackberry and apple, cob nuts with blue cheese and pears. These are things I can’t cook in the spring or summer so they are special treats to keep out the cold. But equally, broad beans come in their season, as do globe artichokes and tomatoes. I take time to enjoy things when they are at their best. That’s easy for me to say as we have the allotment. But if you want to eat seasonally, seek out farmers’ markets and local shops and market stalls which sell local seasonal produce.
About the Author
I was born in 1958 in Madras, as it then was, Chennai as it is now, in India. Before the age of two years, I had lived in four countries on three continents. I am sure that this has contributed to my love of food from all over the world. My family came to live permanently in England in 1963 and I grew up first in Hertfordshire and then in London. After taking a degree in Politics and Modern History at Manchester University I worked for a few years in the charity sector before moving into Education administration in various organisations.
I took early retirement in 2015 due to ill health. As well as having coeliac disease I had been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, from which I still suffer. I have huge sympathy for people living with so called long Covid. Like so many people, after I retired, I could not work out how I ever had the time to go to work. The pandemic has prevented some of the activities I usually love to do, visiting museums and galleries, meeting friends for coffee or lunch and perhaps a visit to the Oxford Botanic Garden. But I still have the pleasure of gardening, cooking, reading, sewing and knitting, many of these activities undertaken whilst listening to Radio 4.