Cooking lessons 1

A few months ago I was walking through London with a friend of mine. For the sake of the argument let’s call him something implausible like Michael. In the course of conversation two things came up. Firstly, that he was very low on money. Secondly, that he wanted to go to McDonalds because he could get a meal’s worth of food for only five pounds there.

Needless to say I objected rather strongly to this statement. Both to the notion that one can acquire food at McDonalds and to the notion that five pounds for a meal is good value. And so it arised that I would be teaching Michael how to cook.

Michael has now returned from the barbarian lands which he calls home, and so the lessons are to begin. Because it will allow others to benefit from them, and because I’m a total show off, I’ll be doing it via a series of blog posts.

Today is shopping day, and I’m suggesting a list of bare minimals he’ll want to stock before we do this. Spices will come later, as I refuse to instruct anyone to buy spices at a supermarket.

Cooking implements and general kitchen stuff

He actually has most of these, but I’m including it for completeness. Some of these aren’t essential, and one can always improvise, but it’s irritating to have to do so.

  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife
  • Frying pan
  • Pot (Having two pots is ideal, but not neccesary)
  • Wooden spoon
  • Cooking spatula.
  • Large sandwich bags
  • Cheese grater
  • Aluminium foil

Cooking essentials

These are the ingredients which I feel it would be useful to always have to hand.

  • Sunflower oil. This can be as cheap as you can find.
  • Garlic puree
  • “Very lazy chillies”
  • Table salt
  • A couple packs of green, brown and red lentils respectively
  • A couple bottles of tomato passata.
  • White rice. Preferably basmati.
  • Stock cubes. Something of midrange quality is likely fine.
  • Bag of cheap white onions.
  • Bag of potatoes
  • Marmite
  • Soy sauce
  • Sugar, preferably brown

Not all of these are things I would use. I’ve replaced some of my ingredients with equivalent shortcuts.

Short term stuff

Things which I’d recommend picking up in the short term. This is definitely not a required list, but will give rise to some nice easy starting meals.

  • Eggs
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Fresh fish from the fish counter – if you buy whole fish rather than steak you can find some quite reasonably priced examples.

Other stuff

I like to have the following around, but it’s totally nonessential.

  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Sesame oil
  • Miso (if you get the fish I recommend picking up some of this)
  • Sweet chilli sauce
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