“Groundhog Day” Strikes In the Kitchen
My mother was a great cook, making wholesome meals every night for a family of five, never too fancy but not boring either. This may sound easier than producing gourmet cuisine, but it’s actually a fine art. She had to please a number of palates varying greatly in maturity, which changed on an irritatingly regular basis. Plus, she did it without repeating the same meal three times a week. As any mother will tell you, it’s no mean feat, most can entirely relate to the “Groundhog Day” feeling associated with relentless meal preparation.
I used to be extremely experimental in the kitchen, usually with a good result. I’d had the benefit of Mum’s early coaching and the good fortune of expert tuition from chefs in my motor yacht days. Food and cooking was my thing, I truly found it relaxing, but after the kids came along the enjoyment dwindled. I put it down to decreased time and general exhaustion, but I also think it was tainted by the inescapable obligation of it all. Our mothers didn’t expect anything else, that’s just how it was, but women today are different. Often highly qualified and working part or full time plus managing a lot of household chores, they’re well aware of their right to equality and can come to resent the monotony of housework and other gender based expectations.
Hastening the dissatisfaction are those rare flashes of inspiration, where you make one of those delicious Thai curries you were so good at once. Unfortunately the mild curry paste which doesn’t even register with you, has the children on a continual loop to the kitchen for water refills, the fresh thai basil (non negotiable for anyone who loves a thai curry), apparently tastes like “soapy grass”, and the amount of leftovers are suspiciously close to their initial servings.
There is hope though. I started cooking like my Mum more often, unpretentious fare with universal appeal and it’s paid off – stress free meal times, appreciation, empty plates, and the return of enthusiasm for my passion. Use low fat meats with nutritionally sound ingredients, and they’ll be healthy too. One of our family classics, past and present, is crumbed beef schnitzel. The meat is lean and if you use a good quality non saturated oil for the shallow fry with fresh vegetable sides, it’s actually a commendable choice for growing kids and hardworking parents alike.
Crumbed Beef Schnitzel
500g Black Rock beef schnitzels
Neutral oil for frying (grapeseed, rice bran, light olive oil)
¾ cup flour
2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups freshly processed ciabatta bread crumbs (or panko crumbs)
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Slices of fresh mozzarella, or cheddar
Torn fresh basil leaves, to serve
Cut the schnitzel into desired serving sizes then season with salt and pepper. Dust each piece in the flour, dip in the egg mixture and coat well with the crumb. Heat 1cm of oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. When the oil is nice and hot, shallow fry the schnitzels, a couple at a time, until golden brown on both sides. Set aside on paper towels.
Arrange the schnitzels on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Top each one with a sprinkle of Parmesan and a few slices of the cheddar cheese. Grill for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden. Top with fresh basil leaves, and serve with fresh blanched vegetables or a green salad.