Take today, for example. I have a great new cookbook that is full of simple recipes...it's perfect for me right now because it doesn't have too many ingredients and it refers to the ingredient by its local name, which is key. Just to give you an example (and there are many more to come in future posts), do you know what a courgette is? How about a sultana? A courgette is a zucchini, and a sultana is a golden raisin. You're welcome.
Back to today. I was in the grocery store with my crazy cart (the wheels...remember the wheel problem?) and I was looking for tomato sauce. Easy, right? It's in with the diced, stewed, and puréed tomatoes, of course. Oh, wait...that's only if you are shopping at HEB (Texas) or Dierbergs (St. Louis) or Safeway (Portland). Or anywhere in the US, I'm sure. But not here. The closest thing to tomato sauce (by looks alone) is passata, which looks to be tomato sauce - it even comes with Italian herbs (say the H here, by the way). However, since I was using a local cookbook/recipe, I assumed that if the recipe called for passata, it would say passata. So I had to ask.
But before I tell you about that, let me tell you the other thing I was looking for that was not necessarily called something else, but was not in the spot where it should be. Or at least by my standards where it should be. It was chutney...the recipe said I could use any fruit chutney. So I looked in the section titled "Jams and Marmalades." Not there. (Neither is grape jam, but I digress.)
So I reluctantly go ask one of the nice Sainsbury's girls (who have helped me at least a dozen times already in the past four months.) I approach her and she says, "Hiya...yullright?" (Translated: Hello. How are you?) I reply something along the lines of needing help finding two things. I start with the tomato sauce...which is the required ingredient for two meals I'm preparing - and neither recipe helps me figure out what tomato sauce actually is. The first is for a "gourmet" meatloaf...the tomato sauce goes in the meat mixture (among other things) and on top of it to bake. The second is for a pizza-like dish that's veggies, balsamic glaze, goat cheese on a crunchy crust/tortilla. These descriptions will come in handy as you read the next paragraph and the Sainsbury's girl's answer.
I asked her where to find the tomato sauce...is it the same thing as passata, I wonder? She tells me that it can be that OR pasta sauce (like Ragu) OR ketchup. Then she asks what I need it for...to which my answer of meatloaf and pizza does nothing to clarify. Finding her answer to be completely useless, I decide to table that one and move on to the chutney. I can ask a friend for help with the tomato sauce issue later. Chutney, apparently, is not shelved with the jams and marmalades and other fruit-in-a-jar-like substances. It's with the condiments. Go figure.
So after reconfiguring dinner for tonight (it was going to be the meatloaf - now it's tacos with a side of regret) I decide to make a nice dessert. I was already committed to spending a teeny bit of time in the kitchen making meatloaf and a side dish, which was considerably reduced by defaulting to the taco scenario. I pick up a cake mix for a lemon cake with glaze. A quick glance at the back of the box tells me that it needs just milk and eggs. Convenient - my kind of dessert.
Fast forward through unpacking groceries and the 17 minutes it took to make tacos - which includes offering soft AND crunchy wraps/shells - and it's time to stir the mix, milk and eggs. I get out the glass bread loaf dish and start reading the box. Apparently, what is needed is a metal bread loaf pan AND it needs to be lined with something or another. The directions for that can only be found, however, on the mix's website. So much for convenient. Not only do I need to do some extra work on the pan, I need to get online to read about said extra work. No thanks. So I take a gamble and put it in a 9x9 glass baking dish and hope for the best. But here's what the directions said:
The part about instructions to line a 2 lb loaf tin....if I'm lining anything, presumably with parchment paper, I've gone past "convenient" and ventured into complicated. Parchment paper is for Christmas baking. Or when I don't feel like washing a baking sheet. Lining a narrow metal breadpan with it is not my idea of quick, easy or convenient.
The good news is that the lemon cake turned out just fine. I didn't need to go to auntbessies.co.uk for any help. The tacos were good too, although I'd cut off my thumb for some authentic Mexican food right about now. But that's another post for another time.