I have always been interested in cooking - even if I have not always been very good at it!
I am sure that Pete, Dave, Dick and The Wing will never forget that night on Summer Crew '02 when the Pasta Bake took three hours and STILL came out raw!
As a kid, I was forever sodding about in the kitchen trying to create little snacky things - like Salad Cream on Toast!! My dad was a waiter. However, he died when I was very young and mum had to go out to work till all hours to put food on the table (they didn't do single parents in those days. Today you get benefits. In the 1960's you got poison pen letters through your door for being 'ummarried').
So anyways, what mum basically did was teach us all to cook from a very young age. She knew should could not be there of an evening, so she made sure we could look after ourselves. Safety was everything. Keep knives sharp, make sure pan handles are not sticking over the side, check the gas hasn't blown out, wash all meat and veg before using it.
Could you imagine now allowing a 7 year old to open a hot oven, take out a huge oil filled tray in order to baste the spuds and the joint? If any parent did that now, the 'Safeguarding' branch of the SAS would be storming the house and taking the kids into care!
Mum was not a memorable cook. The famous phrase 'like mamma used to make' is lost on me. I can't recall any particular dish she ever made us -- all I do remember is that we were rarely hungry and if we ever were, then we knew where the kitchen was and how to use it. I think once I (the youngest) reached about 13, mother basically gave up cooking and left us kids to do it all. My mates would come home to lashingly hot dinners cooked by mum, while muggins 'ere would have to get stuck in himself if he wanted to eat. It was the kind of 'tough love' parents don't do any more and what it did for me was ensure that no matter where I was - or indeed how poor I was - I could always produce a meal!
The next big event in my cooking life came around the early 1980's when I met a certain Pete. He and I ran Scout Troops near to each other. In fact, he took over the running of a troop I used to run. Like me, he had not been in Scouting as a kid and had come in because his girlfriend was the Scout Leader's daughter.
Now Pete was - and still is - a vegetarian and I would say too, a fairly militant one as well. Now, I had been interested in going 'veggie' for some years because basically I did not like meat or fish very much. As I child, one thing I did suffer from really badly - and quite regularly - was food poisoning. There was one memorable incident involving smoked haddock and another involving a kebab both of which had made me so ill that basically, they totally put me off the idea of eating meat.
Meeting Pete and listening to him talking about vegetarianism basically did it for me. I bought my first veggie cookbook in 1987 and have not looked back since. There are certain things that define a character. I could give up drink. I could stop smoking (I almost have) and I could even turn 'straight' (heaven forbid) - but actually, I really don't think I could live with myself if I did what a lot of 'veggies' do and that is return to the Dark Side and start eating meat again.
So, don't expect this blog to contain any recipes involving the fried up slice of a dead cow's arse! The clue should be in the title - this is a totally vegetarian blog!
OK Ashley, hows that?