It feels like everything has changed but nothing has changed – Food and cooking remain the constant familiar ingredients in daily life.’
When I started writing A Wee Pinch of Sugar over 6 years ago, I thought it would be a good way to keep my brain active as I had given up full time work. I thought long and hard about topic as mainly I really wanted to continue writing. It had always been a big part of my work although food had never played a significant part. Food was more central to my personal and family life. I had been interested in food since my schooldays and had also been cooking since I was tall enough to reach the kitchen table. The blog would be a way of sharing my recipes along with the odd piece of food news that I thought might be of interest to readers. That was my plan but somewhere along that road, things got busy; extra pages were added to the blog, I started writing reviews and got more involved in the Scottish food scene.
Fast forward 6 years, life has changed and is still changing. When I started the blog my boys were still living at home. My kitchen was a daily hive of activity; food was constantly being prepped and big filling dinners to feed 3 hungry men made.
The boys became interested in cooking and while it’s a big kitchen, some days we were vying for space on the worktops. There were friendly arguments about who was the best cook. I knew the answer but the arguments and comments were very funny.
As I said, life was changing. The boys were at university in Glasgow and eventually both moved to the city. Hunger obviously got the better of them as most weekends they drifted home and the kitchen chaos would return. It was a noisy busy place and I loved it. Fast forward a year or so and the change is more noticeable; the house and the kitchen are quieter. Last year We said a tearful goodbye to no 1 son as he headed off to a new job and life in USA. It wasn’t long before life changed and in July he came home to get married and is now back settled in USA with his lovely wife.
No 2 son remains in Glasgow but he’s still never far off my radar, especially when it comes to food.
I enjoy my regular trips to the west end of Glasgow to meet up with him. He knows where the best coffee is served and always has a recommendation for a quick lunch or dinner. It also give me the chance to indulge in a bit of food shopping in the eclectic mix of the west end. He has the best fishmongers, bakeries and specialist shops right on his doorstep. His local shops have become mine, despite being 17 miles away. His freezer has become a store for those ‘I couldn’t help myself and cooked more food’ meals. It’s true that food connects people. I drive him crazy by constantly asking what he’s having for dinner and telling him what he’s got in the freezer.
Back at the mothership, I enjoy the peace and stillness in the house. But the kitchen is the difficulty; cooking for 2 is a rather ordered affair. I’m often heard saying ‘there’s always a spare seat at my table’. With a table that can seat 14, believe me, there are plenty of spare seats.
Mr G regularly travels overseas with work and thankfully he is more than happy to have home cooked food when he’s at home. After eating in restaurants for 2 weeks, nothing says ‘you’re home’ more than the smell and taste of a home cooked meal.
Despite missing the hustle and bustle of a busy kitchen, I’ve also come to enjoy the times I cook when I’m alone.There’s a quiet pleasure to be had from throwing a few ingredients in a pan and enjoying a solo meal.
No 1 son, despite living in USA hasn’t escaped my food obsessions. We regularly exchange pics of what we’re having for dinner or I send him recipes for healthy meals. I know he doesn’t need them but it’s my way of keeping the spirit of ‘food brings people together’. Occasionally I even ask for advice as he is my expert when it comes to BBQ food, smoking food and cooking with spices.
We might not be sitting down to dinner on a weekly basis but the conversations are still there.
It’s not only the boys that life has changed for. The past year has seen some changes in my own physical health. A few surgeries and accidents have taken their toll and daily life at times has, and continues to be challenging. A ban on what to me is normal gardening means I’ve become a dab hand with a pair of secateurs. Long handled tools have made it easier, and frustrating as it is there’s still plenty of manageable and lighter jobs to be done.
Constantly by my side are the dogs and the long walks have become shorter but again, the pleasure is still there.
Like the rest of the family, they’re happy being in the kitchen, preferably when a chicken is being stripped of a roast is being carved.
I’ve learned that I can still achieve the same results in the kitchen by sitting at the table to prep meals. The pleasure is still there – it’s fine to do things differently. The blog will be also be changing and will reflect these lifestyle changes and experiences.
It feels like everything has changed but nothing has changed – Food and cooking remain the constant familiar ingredients in daily life.
I can still feel the rhythm of those busy days. But, my family has changed and they will continue to evolve and enjoy their new lives. They, and we will come and go throughout the year; just as each changing season brings something new, I will look forward to the chats, the pictures, the catch ups on FaceTime and more than anything, the visits and there not being an empty seat at my table.