18 April 2018

Gemma Wade, You Say Tomato Cooking

The birth of my youngest son coincided with my eldest son’s toddler years, which brought new challenges to what to cook. Early on I decided, on my mum’s advice, to only cook one meal a night and give them what we were eating - mashed with a fork or cut into bits their squidgy little fists could manage. We cooked with a bit less, but still some, spice and learned how to cook meals that would work for their early and our late dinner times, adding the extra heat or salady crunch that they weren’t keen on to our servings. Creating food for baby while blanketed in tiredness in those early days wasn’t all plain sailing, I was always mislabelling and they often ended up with things like parsnip, instead of Apple - I remember my disbelief that they didn’t seem to like apple puree!

Life with older children and more hours at work is hectic in different ways, so the food I cook now reflects that. Sometimes we only have a 30 minute turnaround between school and swimming, or getting in and bedtime, so I’ve created recipes and tricks that mean we can still eat a real meal. However we are all human and I’m guilty of regularly burning the bottom of pans because I’ve dashed off to do something and have forgotten. No bother though as I just leave the burnt bits on the pan and scrape off the good bits.

We still stick to one meal for the whole family and my boys eat pretty much everything, most days at least. However, cooking for a career has meant that my family often ends up with weird meals made up of leftovers from classes and recipe testing because I hate food waste. I went through about 10 recipes trying to create the perfect stuffing one Christmas so my boys were having stuffing sandwiches for lunch for a week and an ill advised stuffing-frittata one night at which point they told me I had to stop.

People always ask me what my food is like and I struggle to find a label. My food always has guts, a northern girl like me needs deep flavour and a bit of bulk. But those guts are brightened with finishing touches that don’t take much time but transform the meal into something that tastes balanced and interesting. I’ll always add some crunch to something soft, salt to something sweet and acidity to pretty much everything. Chefs know this, but most home cooks don’t. I know that because I see the ‘aha’ moment in my classes and get the messages when people cook recipes from my site.

More than what my food tastes like, I’m proud that my food is real food for real life. I know that my recipes work for people who never call themselves foodies but who need to get food on the table each night. They may not enjoy cooking but once they have some basic tricks shown to them, the time spent in the shop and the kitchen is rewarded with food that tastes better than anything they’ve made before.

Look out for some recipes by Gemma coming up soon! 

Written by Gemma @gemcwade


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