Social media is terrible for showing off people's lives in a ridiculously unrealistic way, well that's the conclusion I have come to...
As a member of lots of groups I see houses that are spotless (with kids living there), Toddlers wearing white with not a speck of dirty on them and food that makes me salivate. However, there is one group that is based around cooking on your Aga and the love for your Aga, brilliant, I do love my Aga. I ogle at the amazing dishes made from scratch with veggies out of the garden and I am inspired by how tidy they all keep their kitchens and how sparkling their Aga's are. So when I look though these food posts and think what a good job farmers are doing by growing this fresh produce, I also find myself grimacing at them with a guilty conscience.
I hear lots of people harping on about how they are 'harvesting' their garden crops and getting them freezer ready for the winter months ahead, either by making lots of meals, jams or chutneys, that's right guilt.... You see, as a 'farmers wife' everyone assumes you are the oracle of farm fresh food and you'll always have the answer on how to cook and prepare vegetables and how to cook a piece a meat to perfection. That conscience is creeping back.
This is where I own up about the 'ideal farm family' lifestyle, behind every door there are secrets and ours is no exception, here is my farmer's wife fail... Summer is looming, most of you will appreciated this is by far the busiest, craziest but most satisfying time of the year on the farm and this leads us to eating all the food we get criticized for. I wouldn't say we eat horrendously, it's not takeaways every night, but when you think of the land we live on and what we produce, the food that gets out on the table (or lap sometimes) is far from the farm fresh idealistic cuisine that society portrays (sorry, what social media portrays).
So with fresh yumminess all around us and growing on our land, what we actually consume may surprise you. We don't have a set dinner time any time of the year yet alone summer and the food I cook needs to be kind of transportable if Mr M is still harvesting at midnight. The kids routine is also out of sync, and everything seems rushed. So what's on the summer menu?
Fish fingers, yes I had to start with these as they are ultimate, "shit my kids need feeding quick" food, and during the summer this happens a lot, with mash or in a sandwich these little beauties never fail. Pizza (no veggies, sorry)! Chicken, if I cook a whole chicken that can last us 2 days, using the leftovers in a curry or fajitas. I'm not ruling out takeaways as fish and chips are a winner sat in the field watching daddy combine (I'm sure fish and chip shops have a surge in sales during harvest!) Sausages, with anything. Sandwiches, never discount a sandwich for an evening meal. I accept none of this is terrible, but is far from the wholesome veggie laden 3 hours to cook stew or Sunday roast with ALL the trimmings that people think farmers eat every evening!
Now, I don't think I am alone here, This has to be a wide spread secret of many UK farming families (please tell me it is?) We all improvise and serve up our own version of 'fast food' relying on little time to prepare, cook and dish up and the invention of, dare I say, processed foods!!
The working hours of any farmer escalates in summers starting before 5.30am and sometimes not coming in until the early hours. Throw in two toddlers, one at pre-school and the other needing entertaining you can imagine that by 4pm most evenings dinner has been an afterthought.
The irony is that the good farmers that produce such fresh food us very rarely find the time to enjoy it at its freshest.
As a farmer's wife I strive to get my domestic goddess self together and dish up plates of food to be proud of, I would love whip up a taste sensation in 20 minutes flat with the amazing produce from my pantry, reality is, I very seldom know what is actually in my pantry and I spend the 20 minutes searching the internet for quick, simple, nutritious recipes. So, to my dear friends in the Aga group, please do keep up the good work and post away with all your spectacular creations for me to drawl over, please accept my failure as a journey not the destination, and I am getting there, slowly!
Whatever you're eating tonight...