Sunday, October 23, 2011

Feeling Uninspired at Dinner Time?

Do you stand at the checkouts and gaze at the covers of the recipe mags and dream about making a dish just like what's on the cover?? Or is that just something I do?

A copy of Australian Good Taste usually lands in my trolley most times that I am walking past and see that it is a new issue. So this week when I got the opportunity to interview Kirrily Cornwell, Australian Good Taste Home Cook of the Year, I jumped at the chance.

I love cooking, but am at times left uninspired, and right now I am in one of those slumps. So I was hoping that chatting to Kirrily would give me some inspiration. And she did not disappoint!

Anyhow here is what Kirrily had to say:

Could you also tell me a little bit about yourself?

I am a working mum with two daughters, aged 11 and 3.  I work four days a week in the Commonwealth Government in Suicide Prevention - I'm in middle management so sometimes the balance of work and life can be a bit of a challenge.  We seem to have worked out a good way of operating though as a family, my husband starts his day early and I do the morning drop-offs etc.  He finishes early and spends the afternoon with the girls while I work a bit later and get home in time to get the dinner on the table.  Some days can feel a bit like we are running without catching a breath but we try extra hard to make the most of our family time.
My husband and I are both musicians as well so that keeps us a bit sane in our spare time. Until recently we were in a band together, I'm a singer and he's a bass player and trained percussionist.

I would love to know where you got the inspiration for your winning dish, Pan-seared Salmon accompanied by Parsley, White Wine Risoni and Fennel Orange Salad?
 I wanted to do something different than a one-pot pasta dish (not that I think there's anything wrong with those I actually think the beauty of pasta is in its simplicity and the ability to make a meal out of very few ingredients).  We were having some really lovely spring weather here, the oranges were good, fennel was back on the shelves and I love fennel, all those things put together kind of screamed the dish I ended up going with.  I put up an alternative to my family in the form of a linguine with parsnip and spanish serrano with rosemary and thyme crumb but the salmon came out a resounding yes!
Is this something that your family would regularly eat as a week night meal? 
 Probably not this particular dish as I usually have about half an hour to get dinner on the table by the time I get home from work!  We eat a lot of BBQ's, stir fries, salads etc.  Having said that, the dish is actually pretty quick and easy to prepare so it's do-able!
How do you keep your week night meals interesting? 

I have always got my head inside a recipe book any spare moment I have to get ideas for this!  I don't always go with anything you would deem fancy but I try and use fresh ingredients, things that are in season, and if at all possible I pull something from my garden to include.  I have done the odd bit of meal planning but I'm not very good at sticking with that.
Do you have any tips for making home cooking a fun (and delicious) experience? 

 I like cooking best when I have time on my hands - the home cooking I do on a nightly basis is more about just getting dinner on the table but I still enjoy it particularly when it's something which gets eaten (I have a variety of tastes to cater for including a 3 year old so it is sometimes a challenge putting together something they will all like).  When I'm cooking on the weekend I try and get my little girl involved and since I have learned to relax about any mess that gets made we have a ball in the kitchen together!
If I've got any tips it would be to relax, get the kids involved, educate yourself about what is in season and try and cook with fresh ingredients wherever possible.  I am a novice vegie gardener but I have found that having things in my garden ready to pull out and eat makes me so happy and is hopefully going some way to ensuring my girls know where their food comes from.
What is your fall back meal, you know the one where you walk in the door 5 minutes before dinner needs to be served?
Stir fry without a doubt is one I can knock up pretty quickly provided I've got the fresh ingredients available.  Otherwise I will put something on the BBQ or do a quick pita bread pizza.  
Finally could you tell us why you decided to take part in the Home Cook of the Year challange? 
I recently decided to have a bit of a break from the band as I was feeling a bit tired and felt like I needed something new in my life.  I suppose that's where my love of cooking really stepped up a notch, I was looking for a new challenge and that's when I noticed the magazine comp.  But it was a personal challenge not one I ever thought would lead to the amazing result of winning.
It has made me realise that maybe, as I approach the age of 40 next year, nothing is impossible and I might have a whole range of other skills to offer the world.  I'm not anticipating a move to the food industry (unless it's to run a B&B in the south of France!) but who knows what the future holds! :-)

Thank you so much to Kirrily for taking the time to chat to me.

I hope you have got some inspiration from reading this too.

What are you fall back meals? 

Do you meal plan or just wing it?  

If you want to know more about the Home Cook of the year finalists you can read about them in this months issue of Australian Good Taste which is in stores now.

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