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Be happy and you’ll cook better!

Wednesday, 5th February, 2020 4:38pm

A happy cook cooks well – this is a sentence in a cookbook by Carmel Somers of the Good Things Café now located in Skibbereen.

The sentence – as simple as it sounds – struck a chord with me as it describes me very well. I am happy when I cook and cooking/baking has helped me through some dark times.

I used to bake when I encountered my first heartbreak, creating the most amazing cakes and bringing them to work until colleagues gathered together complaining about weight gain and would I not just dump him!

I did, but being able to bake and cook has saved me from the dark bottom of my soul and saved me money for therapy.

So reading that sentence by Carmel Somers made me smile as it took me back to times I have forgotten about but Carmel simply meant that you should relax when cooking to ensure that the procedure doesn’t become overwhelming.

Carmel’s cookbook is a collection of wonderful flavoursome recipes that are simple yet nourishing (just try her beetroot with yogurt and you will know what I mean).

The recipes are divided into weeks with shopping lists and a selection of recipes (no worries, there are only a few weeks listed – not the whole year) and a list of things you can prepare in advance at the weekend to make cooking during the week easier.

At the beginning of the book, she has a list of tips to help you (the first being: relax – a happy cook cooks well) including: if something goes wrong, try again. Lots of mistakes are edible – and she is so right.

My trials don’t always end in success and my dad’s chickens had to deal with a lot sometimes when I had my creative period (one tip, chickens don’t like too much ginger).

Another sentence I love from this list is: set the table, even for the simplest of meals. When I lived alone in Berlin, I had a lovely dining table in the alcove of my living room (it was a large apartment) and I had a habit of setting the table where I ate my meal with a napkin and a candle.

I truly believe that a tomato soup tastes so much better when enjoyed properly. My friend Sabrina made me once a lovely cheese toastie – and she dressed her kitchen table and we sat there for hours, nibbling away and chatting like friends should at a dinner party (we even ate her husband’s portion as he didn’t come down quick enough).

Carmel Somers’ book ‘Eat Good Things Every Day’ was published in 2009 but I am sure it is still available. Some recipes have step by step photography while others have just very simple images – nothing to intimidate the novice cook. So be happy when you are in the kitchen and cook well!

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