How to make cooking more fun

Cooking should be relaxing, creative, peaceful, mellow, satisfying... and as recipes become more familiar, it's excellent for mind-wandering and thinking about writing. Or chattering contentedly. So, in an ideal world...

  • Cook to share, at the least with your future self. This is more fun and it's a strange cook's truth that whatever you've made tastes nicer to you the next day or some time later. (Most of my recipes are based around this.)
  • Clean the kitchen first and get the surfaces as clear as possible. It makes it all more peaceful.
  • Choose your playlist or radio :)
  • The point isn't to hurry and get it over with. It's a pleasant thing to do in itself.
  • The first time you make something new, do all the chopping first so you don't get rushed or panicky. As you go on, you get much faster at chopping and you can prep and cook at the same time for some stuff.
  • Wash up as you go along. It keeps your space nicer and you don't end up with a mass of dishes at the end.
  • Gradually build up a collection of really lovely equipment - it's much better to spend on that than kitchen gadgets. A fantastic knife, copper-bottomed stainless steel pots, a good sharp grater, etc. You don't have to get everything overnight, but each piece that is just right makes everything lovelier. I spent 5 years finding the perfect balloon whisk! The ordinary one did okay, but this one is a delight.
  • Build up a repertoire of techniques, not just recipes. Soup is a technique. So is my slap-dash frittata. So is stew. Once you have a technique, you get to play around with different ingredients and combinations, make up your own stuff, sniff things or nibble them to wonder if they'll go together - that's where it gets creative.
  • Don't fret about disasters. Every cook worth their salt has a library of anecdotes about their disasters. My vegetarian sand lasagne was trumped only by my marsh-greens-and-cat-food pasta (not what I intended, clearly, but what I in fact made), and both still have me in stitches.
And a counsel of perfection, if you have a freezer... Make large quantities of things that freeze well and freeze it in the portion sizes you need. That way, you never have to cook if you don't have time or don't feel like it, so it can stay a pleasure, not become a chore. Maybe that's the biggest secret of keeping cooking fun.

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