In this life, creating something new isn’t always about upheaval. Sometimes it’s about working with what you have and being prepared to experiment or think differently.

I have this running game with Linda, who works on the checkout in my local Waitrose. I have serious foodie tendencies (we have to keep buying more shelves for the cookbooks), to the extent that the Customer Information desk used to live in fascinated terror. ‘Excuse me, do you happen to sell … ‘, I start to say, as they backed away, smilingly nervously. Now I’m older and living with a partner who’s happy for me to cook as he doesn’t have to be scared of what might be in it, I’ve changed tack.  Nowadays, the ingredients are fairly run of the mill. The approach now is ‘well, I’ll be cooking and we have to eat, so how can I make the cooking and the eating a little daily adventure?’ All the while, Linda has been paying attention.

The game’s fairly simple. I unpack the trolley onto the conveyor belt, she scans it … and tries to guess what I might be cooking. Here’s a recent example. A bag of potatoes, cooking apples, four pears, a packet of bacon, and a box of eggs.

“Bacon, egg and chips followed by baked apple and the pears are for the fruit bowl?”

“Not even warm, Linda.”

“Potato omelette with bacon, and the rest is for the stock cupboard”.

“Slightly closer but miles off”.

“Oh go on then, tell me.”

“Hete bliksem. It’s Dutch. You chunk and saute potatoes in butter, add chopped bacon and give it a few minutes. Thinly slice the apples and pears and stir them in. Add some thyme and spoonful of soft brown sugar, bung the lid on and pop it in the oven for 40 minutes.”

“And the eggs?”

“Oh, they’re a red herring. As it were.”

Linda thought that sounded so good (it is – there’s a recipe in Diana Henry’s Roast Figs and Sugar Snow), I scribbled down the recipe while she stuffed everything into a carrier bag.

“I’ll try that one Friday. My husband’d never eat it, but he’ll be out and the kids can have a treat”, she said.

So when you’re faced with familiar resources and a daily conundrum, it seems you have two alternatives. Divorce your husband and spend the money on cookbooks. Or think outside the box a little, try a different approach, and buy a bag of chips for ‘im indoors.

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