You want to prepare food that is not too complicated and that will turn out successfully. And isn't this because you want to please the people you are cooking for?
I used to be a fairly keen cook. But recently, I realised that I've been cooking increasingly badly - as in repetitively and unimaginatively - as I got older; same old staples: soups, stews, pasta, omelettes, roasts. Looking in my old faithful cookery books, I could find nothing to inspire me, or their exotic signature dishes weren't to my taste, or I was defeated by the length of the ingredients lists.
I began to worry if I was going to turn into an old lady who ate little else but toast , salmon steaks and shepherd's pie.... My fridge is often zingy with colour, full of vegetables, salads, herbs and sometimes meat or chicken; I have a weekly order of superb free range eggs from a family friend, but I would often struggle to produce much that was interesting. Surely I could find dishes that captured the wonderful simplicity and depth of flavour that my mother and grandmother never failed to produce? Both were excellent cooks, yet nothing was 'cheffy' or overdressed; real home cooking, deceptively plain and unadorned, with good ingredients, and a great joy in feeding people, had been their trademarks. I have no memory of either of them ever consulting a cookery book.
At some point very recently, I seem to have done something about it. I ordered a book that, judging from its reviews, would recapture those dishes from childhood, would re-light the interest in food and cooking that had been fading dully for years. And then I forgot totally, utterly, that I had done so.
A parcel came today, and a very large heavy parcel at that. Mystified, I opened it, convinced that I had ordered nothing, that no one was likely to be sending me a gift (that's not a hint, by the way!) and found, to my jolted memory's delight, this 1932 classic Je Sais Cuisiner, now in English:
And it's a big fatty.
With lovely illustrations:
And tempting photographs. Dishes that take me back in time: cassoulet, potage bonne femme, apple fritters (oh, my mother's apple fritters!), stuffed cabbage (that my grandmother tied with stout cotton thread).....
and thankfully, a simple recipe for Swiss chard, becoming abundant on the allotment.
I'm pleased that I forgot about ordering this book; it was the nicest surprise on this cold rainy day.
So much to choose from, although I don't know where to start! Maybe by shopping.....