Good Food Blog
Ready, Steady... Stop!Posted at 6:30PM, 11 November 2010 by Claire Webb - Writer
What do you look for in a recipe? Do you check for tricky ingredients or anxiously consult the calorie count? My chief concern when frantically flicking through the cookery book is time. Half an hour is the longest I'll consider and that's only on special occasions. While I pride myself on rarely resorting to takeaways, ready meals or those disturbing packets of pallid, pre-cut carrots, patience has never been among my virtues. I'm the kind of cook who has the onions frying before the shopping is unpacked; who mutters 'life's too short' while simultaneously slicing mushrooms, wrenching open a tin of tomatoes and scouring the cupboard for spaghetti .
When my mother was my age she grew all her own fruit and vegetables, baked her own bread and even made yogurt
When my mother was my age she grew all her own fruit and vegetables, baked her own bread and even made yogurt. She wasn't an eco-warrior; she was cash-strapped and living 'the good life' was the cheapest way to eat well in the 70s. So why is her daughter enslaved to the egg-timer? Could it be because I was raised on a TV diet of Ready, Steady, Cook ? Every day after school I would marvel as the Red Tomatoes and Green Peppers conjured haute cuisine out of a £5 bag of groceries in just 20 minutes .
Last week it was announced that the Beeb has called time on Ready Steady Cook. After 15 years, its longest-running cookery show is for the chop. Instead of Ainsley Harriott, we'll be seeing more of those chipper, leather-clad Northerners, the Hairy Bikers and their seven-minute suppers. That's right, seven-minute suppers: in their latest show, the Bikers dish up dinner in the time it takes to wrest a frozen pizza from its cellophane wrapper. That's almost three meals in the time it takes Harriott's has-beens to serve one and as for Jamie's 30 Minute Meals over on C4... Frankly, it's a surprise he doesn't faint from hunger.
I should be delighted and yet I'm worried. Where will it end? Will a generation of children grow up applying the same principles to cooking as they do to sports day - the faster, the better? Will ovens soon be obsolete? Considered as sluggish and antiquated as the horse and carriage?
It's enough to make this speed junkie pause for thought. Over the last decade, the Slow Food movement has recruited disciples aplenty as we've become concerned about where the contents of our fridges come from. I can't help thinking it's time my recipe book underwent a similar revolution.
Last year mum asked if I would like a slow-cooker for Christmas and I laughed, assuming it was a joke. This year I'm considering taking her up on the offer. Would you recommend it?