Modern Woman

There are four busy females beavering away in the kitchen and one optimistic Great Labrador sniffing around in catching position, just in case. The male of the house has wisely retreated to the couch, beer in hand, to watch the footy.

We are making pasta. It's a production line but there's something very soothing about the process of turning flour, eggs, and water into noodles and every time I do it I say a few words of thanks to the beautiful people who gave the bright red pasta machine to me.

My patient friend supervises our little girls as they knead the dough, embarrassing her own daughter and delighting the rest of the audience with The Sticky Song as we make our dinner together.

The girls are already experts - they've played pasta together once before and their little fingers, which have only recently outgrown play-dough, are dextrously feeding the rolled-out dough into the machine as one turns the handle and the other catches.

I am at the stove concentrating on sauces - for five eating in and one to take away we need three toppings to cover everyone's level of meat and pumpkin.

The angels finish their angel hair and adults' fettuccine (with spinach) and head off to watch the end of the footy.

My patient friend washes up (I love her!) as I stir and we chat, relaxed and content with the satisfaction of a fun job with a tasty outcome.

I love cooking with other people. I love cooking by myself too but the shared joy of creating a meal together is something special.

Recently, a very good friend came to stay with an infectious laugh, too much wine and duck (of the kind to be poached and then roasted, rather than a pet).

We overcooked the potatoes and had to feed them to the Great Labrador (she appreciates culinary mistakes like that) but, as we twice cooked the bird, we talked about how the knowledge of generations is passed on through the kitchen.

Weekends have been cooking times for most of my life.

My mother taught me to cook as soon as I was old enough to take an interest - showing me how to press out pastry, teaching me how to bake biscuits, supervising chocolate cakes from the Blinky Bill Cookbook, which I still have and now use for recipes with my own little girl. She also let me have the run of her kitchen with my friends once we were old enough to be trusted not to burn ourselves, the saucepans or the house.

I know it's quicker to chuck in a packet of pasta and during the week when time is of the essence I frequently do, but it's the times that I have the opportunity to potter about in the kitchen with people I love will that stay with me forever.


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