There’s a lot to be said for living with others. Particularly if it involves cooking for them. I know a lot of people will say that “oh no, my family aren’t picky and will eat every damn thing that is served to them”, but I know many others will agree with me in saying that sometimes menu planning can be a righteous pain in the arse.
Firstly, I present to you the case of my mother.
Having grown up on a deer farm in rural South Korea after the Korean war, she is incredibly “old school” when it comes to Korean cuisine. Everything should be done by hand and as true to the old ways as possible. It’s probably a good thing that she’ll never meet David Chang of Momofuku fame, or there’s a real chance that she’d box his ears and tell him off for messing with traditional recipes. In her words “what do you think you can do that hasn’t already been perfected by your ancestors??”
Don’t try to talk to her about fusion cuisine. I speak from experience.
Despite this, she has an odd love of sweet cornbread served with jam, as she recalls this being something she received at school during lunchtimes, an offering from the local U.S. army base, so to her this is as much a part of her childhood as is bibimbap or hodduk. And now, after 20+ years in Australia, she’s now also developed a bit of a taste for Western and European cuisine, but is incredibly particular about what she will or won’t tolerate.
Then we have my darling kid sister. She’s actually not as particular as our mother is, but there is still a clear list of foods which are not approved for mastication. She will generally tolerate them if she must and if their flavour can be hidden, but if given a choice she will run a mile. This, unfortunately, includes onions, seafood, and anything that remotely resembles a legume.
All I can say about this is that every time I serve her a bowl of chilli con carne y frijoles, I become equally mesmerised and infuriated by watching her meticulously eat AROUND every kidney bean that might be hiding in the mix.
My little brother, who is one of the absolute joys of my life, and yet very clearly insane.
The picture to the left is just a demonstration – invited to a fancy dress birthday party last year, he decided that he would like to go as a character from some computer game, who happens to be a burly, hairy, RUSSIAN wrestler.
The burly my brother could pull of pretty well, but the hairy? Tends not to work so well when you’re from Asian stock. After he enlisted me to assist, the best that we could come up with was to buy some fake fur, cut it into shapes and glue it to his actual body.
Thinking back now, I’m thinking that double-sided medical tape would probably have been a better option, but that’s always the case with hindsight, isn’t it?
I warned him that when it came to fur-removal, that he’d probably want to saturate the fur to try and dissolve the glue that we’d used…but no, in his drunken wisdom, the fur was literally TORN from his body later that night.
Aside from that, because of his obsession with building muscle mass, the diet he maintains most days barely registers as food:
- green beans sauteed with garlic and lean mince with a little pepper
- tinned tuna on a plain/undressed salad
- egg white omelettes
- and a daily breakfast which comprises of protein powder, water, raw oats, a handful of blueberries and a handful of almonds.
I tell you, it makes the cook in me WEEP!
Taking the above into account, this means that when I’m cooking for the family, I have to try and bear all their restrictions in mind or at least make a few options that will appease them all. Other times, I throw in the towel and think “damnit, I’m going to make whatever the hell I want!” and end up having to give half the food away because I’ve cooked enough for the entire family yet I’m the only one who will partake!
To be honest, when I decided to make these cheese & chive scones, I thought that this would very much be a case of the latter. Chives were not going to please my sister, due to their being from the onion family. The high cheese and butter content was sure to be a deterrent as far as my brother was concerned. And as for my mother, she still struggles with the concept of savoury scones, after only coming around to sweet scones in the past few years.
To my surprise, the family adored these golden beauties, and they went down wonderfully well paired with a hearty spicy pumpkin soup! My brother enjoyed them so much that he wolfed down two in a row and declared them to be “savoury deliciousness!”
Golden, cheesy and perfectly tender, these are wonderful for the chilly weather that is approaching us here in the Southern hemisphere. But even if you’re up north where the days are getting longer and the sun is getting warmer, there’s no reason that you couldn’t still make these – perhaps served with an unholy lashing of butter and a slice of cold ham
Cheese & Chive Scones
300g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
150g grated cheese (I use Tasty)
30g freshly grated parmesan
80g cold unsalted butter, diced
250mL cold buttermilk
2 tbsp chopped chives
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Put the flour, baking soda, salt and butter into a food processor and blitz it a few times to bring it all together. If making this by hand, then whisk together the dry ingredients, then rub the butter in with your fingers till the flour resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
2. Then add the remaining ingredients, but set aside about 1/4 cup of the grated cheese and quickly bring it all together (whether in the food processor or in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon). Work quickly and don’t overmix – it’s alright if the mixture is a little undermixed because working the dough too much will result in tough, flat scones!
3. Pat the dough together into a large round about 2cm thick, then dust your scone-cutter with flour and cut out rounds. Place them on a baking tray close together, then brush the top with milk and sprinkle with the reserved cheese.
4. Once the oven is nice and hot, place the tray into the middle and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or till the scones have risen and are golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool slightly, and serve warm with some lightly salted butter.
So, my dear readers – how about you? What strange dislikes or requirements do you find yourself working with when you cook for your household? And how do you work around them?