It’s been a few weeks since we moved into our place and I’ve started cooking again, after carefully fitting out our kitchen with the least expensive and most necessary items. Every so often I get halfway through a recipe and find there’s something else I need, and I still haven’t managed to find white distilled vinegar, of all things. Vinegar aside, our cupboards are filling up with ingredients and I am adjusting how I meal plan, cook and store food here in England.
I am now dealing with a tiny fridge, same-sized stove, and two wall ovens – one convection, one broiler; both narrower than the oven I had in Toronto. I love that the wall ovens are “torso height” – much easier to keep an eye on what’s cooking and for popping things in and out. There’s enough room for a medium-sized chicken, roasting plenty of vegetables, or baking banana bread, so I’m happy. The stove is an electric glass top with four burners much like the one I had in Toronto. Was hoping for a gas stove in our rental, but I’ll settle for being a ridiculously short walking distance from four pubs, a butcher, greengrocer, fishmonger and cheesemonger, alright?
I am having the most trouble with the tiny fridge now that I’m cooking more often – it was fine when we were newly here, still in holiday mode and eating on the go. The last time I had a fridge this small I was living on campus at university! In Toronto I doubled many recipes for sauces, stews and soups to freeze most of the portions for weekday dinners. Now I have to think about only making enough for one meal and maybe one container for the fridge or freezer. Even the act of putting a whole dutch oven full of chili con carne or stew for an overnight chill is impossible now.
But, now that I can go to the grocery store every day if I like, cooking in advance is a mentality I have to shuck off, like the weekly meal plan, big list and Saturday grocery shop with the car. Having so many grocery stores nearby is a luxury that can get dangerous – this is the land of ubiquitous prepared meals – and they are pretty damn good. Whether it’s Marks & Spencer’s Dine In For Two promo (including a bottle of wine!) or a wander through Tesco or Sainsburys, there are so, so many options – everything from microwave or oven-ready meals to carefully curated ingredients nestled together in the same section of the grocery store’s fridge aisle, ready for a busy cook to buy in one fell swoop and simply follow the recipe.
And that’s even when you don’t think about Indian takeaway, fish and chips, food trucks and Sunday pub lunches!