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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Catering For Different Tastes When Cooking

I see variations on this question asked many times on the various forums I am on:

Being head cook and bottle washer, I have a question. Having D, I need certain foods, my son has become a meat and potatoes guy, my wife eats most anything, except a variety of veggies. I do not want to have to cook 3 separate plates to satisfy all. How do you cater to each taste, or do you? Is there a happy middle?

The same problem occurs for the person who is not the cook but does not want to offend the person who is. This may help those people: Cooking as a Survival Skill. But I realise that is not possible or practical for some.

Here is my own method for dealing with the situation. I am the cook in our household, mostly just for the two of us. Mum is invited for dinner a couple of times a week.

It is important to keep in mind that I am the only person with diabetes. Although I may believe others would benefit from my way of eating it is not my role or place to force them to eat as I do. We each have our own food likes, dislikes, aversions or allergies.

I am diabetic and careful about carbohydrates but otherwise omnivorous. My wife has a very limited menu, by choice, and a long list of foods she detests. For example, she will not eat fish or seafood, eggs, steak, many vegetables, milk, the list goes on. Her likes are basically meat (other than steak), starchy vegetables, peas, tomatoes and silverbeet (chard). My mother is omnivorous but, like most people, has a few foods she prefers to avoid.

If I restricted myself to cooking only the foods we all like my menu would become very limited and boring. I also actively seek to include fish and a wide range of seasonal vegetables in my diet. Therefore, at most meals for the two of us I cook three types of foods. Those I can eat, those my wife will eat, and those we both eat. The other night was a typical example. In the steamer I had potato and pumpkin (winter squash) simmering in the bottom section with silverbeet, carrots, cabbage and broccoli in the top. I cooked two loin lamb chops under the grill (broiler) for her and when they were almost cooked I seared and fried a fillet of Atlantic Salmon in a small skillet for myself.

At the table I put the salmon on my plate, the lamb chops on hers, and all the vegetables on a platter in the middle. We served ourselves from the platter. She had most of the potato and silverbeet; I took most of the rest.

When my mother or other people are dining with us I use the same method. I find out whether anyone has specific protein likes or dislikes and serve that appropriately, letting them select their own vegetables and starches from the centre of the table. For major feasts such as Christmas dinner everything is served buffet-style for diners to select as they wish.

It really isn't as difficult as it sounds, with a small amount of extra thought and effort keeping everyone at the table happy and healthy.