Picture this, if you will…
Most evenings, we arrive home from work and school somewhere between quarter to and six, in a flurry of bags and jumpers and papers and homework and musical instruments, still carrying on with the fight that started in the car on the way to school and work in the morning. Chaos AND mayhem. Figuratively and literally. Add to the noise and the flinging of things and the flouncing of small boys an equally small and equally annoying Hound who has been alone all day and needs some company. Bouncy, shouty company. And food.
Because the children need to be in bed by 8.30pm, they need to eat by 6.30 or so; and because, you know, one of the ways to help turn children into civilised adults is to actually eat a meal with them from time to time – this will allegedly make them eat with appropriate cutlery and stop them from eating peas with their knife. Although it hasn’t appeared to prevent the eating of peas with a spoon. (A pea-spoon. Geddit?) I digress. Because it is good for children to eat with their families, we try to do this whenever we can.
So, you can imagine my delight when I first got a hold of Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals (and the subsequent 15 minute meals). Here was an opportunity to whip up a nice meal for the family, a little bit fancy, nice dessert instead of just grabbing an icecream cone from the freezer. Excellent. Being a cautious soul, the first time I cracked open Mr Oliver’s book, we made sure the children were well and truly fed – there’s nothing more frightening than two starving children sighing and moaning, draped over the table while waiting for food. We did however have guests for dinner. Patient ones, fortunately.
To be perfectly honest, the actual cooking part of the recipe did only take about 30 minutes BUT the preparation to get started took me nearly half the entire allocated time. There were no weird ingredients – I had to pick up a couple of things, but they were items I would normally have on hand, so that wasn’t the issue. And I had all the equipment I needed – but I don’t have a supply of kitchen fairies who can magically chop, grate, mince and pass the ingredients. Nor do I have metres of bench space, so I can have things spread out in front of me while in various stages of preparation. It was stressful.
And the dishes. Man, I have never before created SO MANY DISHES (except for – well, except for when I’ve made a couple of other Jamie Oliver recipes.) So, in order to cook the “30 minute meal”, I needed 15 minutes for prep, 30 minutes for cooking and 45 minutes for cleaning up (did I mention I didn’t have a dishwasher, either!)
So, sorry Mr Oliver, your idea of a 30 minute meal aint going to cut it when the chef has to supervise homework, music practice, sort out school notices, fold washing, clean out the fridge, find toilet paper and $6.50 for an excursion that was due in yesterday… not to mention finishing off the argument from the morning. Chopping up a a few vegies and tossing some meat in a pan leaves plenty of time for running through spelling words, testing times tables, logging into Reading Eggs and doing all the other bits and pieces that need to be done; rather than trying to balance all of the above with reading a recipe, chopping, dicing, sauteing and dirtying every dish in the house. I don’t have a dish pig and a kitchen hand!
However, I have taken a little of this and a little of that and made the odd recipe or two from 30 Minute Dinners – but I don’t make them when I only have thirty minutes to get a meal on the table!
(Still reading Dances with Dragons – page 539 or thereabouts. Loaned my e-reader to a friend in need, and am currently reading Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman)