Cafe Pugh, a short story by Mr Ian Pugh…..

One adult member of team Pugh is very talented at cooking, can make a meal out of whatever is in the cupboard and is always experimenting and learning new skills. The male member of Team Pugh is not blessed with such skills, so much so that nights when he is (forced to do) cooking are met with a collective groan and have been termed Cafe Pugh.

if only the talent had rubbed off....

if only the talent had rubbed off….

Now Ian likes food, in fact he really likes food, but he just can’t cook it very well at all. It is a running joke that when Becksie’s mum cooks it takes twice as long for the food to cook and veg to soften, and it seems to be a issue that also befalls Ian.

Becksie’s mum can, however, make delicious food (in the end). Poor Ian (or rather poor Becksie and Lizzie) on the other hand is not always so successful. He has mastered a few safe recipes (mostly from Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food book), however he has somewhat of a curious industrious mind. This is very useful when it comes to fixing things and renovating things, the entire house renovated with minimum assistance from tradesmen and nothing declared deceased without several repair attempts beforehand. But when it comes to cooking this inquisitiveness and confidence are not helpful at all. Becksie can taste food, think and then find something in the cupboard or fridge to make it taste amazing. She has tried to train Ian:

“What do you think this needs?”

“Erm, something tomatoey”

“Mmmmm, maybe….(No)”

Kitchen bombsite (renovation as opposed to cooking related - for once)

Kitchen bombsite (renovation as opposed to cooking related – for once)

When Ian is let loose in the kitchen he does try to replicate this; tastes the food, looks in the cupboard to see what it might need (or see if he can remember what he has seen Becksie put in). Mostly the results are edible, sometimes nice and (very) occasionally really nice, however sometimes the results are really really bad. Cafe Pugh has in the past served up such delights as:

Dishwater vegetable soup, served up when Becksie was poorly, it tasted so bad that no one could stomach to eat it, but it did make Becksie make a swift recovery when it came to who was going to make dinner!

Cinnamon omelette, sounds ok, tasted terrible – think lots of veg, bacon and lots and lots of cinnamon.

Salad dressings to make your eyes water.

Vegetables that are so overcooked you cannot pick them up as they turn to mash.

Vegetables that are so hard that you cannot pick them up without bending the fork.

Haggis wellington, complete with homemade puff pastry (didn’t work) and an interesting variety of flavours, not the worst meal ever cooked but there was enough of it to feed 12 and as a twosome at the time it was the meal that just kept on giving!

Mashed potato chocolate icing, a genius idea that was also afterwards road tested by the chef at Ian’s work but universally panned.

Sausage-pasta boil up, ok this has never actually been made, but rather is a meal Ian invented 5 years ago but has never been allowed to cook for Becksie, the description of “some sort of boiled pasta and sausages with some tomatoes and herbs” did not really sell his vision and the dish remains just a pipe dream.

Haggis Wellington!

Haggis Wellington!

Cafe Pugh also turns the kitchen into utter carnage, pots everywhere, food everywhere, so much so that the kitchen ends up taking longer to clean than it took to cook and eat (which is always a long time)!

Now Cafe Pugh has always been a light hearted joke, however when poor Becksie was pregnant and suffering (at work and home) with morning sickness (Kate Middleton eat your heart out) Cafe Pugh went from a bi-monthly joke to an every night trauma. Constant suggestions of shepherd’s pie, chicken, pasta did not help the sickness, and unfortunately unlike dishwater soup-gate Becksie was not able to make a miraculous recovery.


Thankfully after 10 long weeks normal service was resumed, and the idea to batch cook meals “just in case Becksie couldn’t cook” was born. Thank goodness. Now all Cafe Pugh has to do is pop a lovely homecooked meal out of the freezer and into the microwave, cook some safe veg like carrots and broccoli or make an (undressed) salad.

batch cook 6

The kitchen still somehow looks like there’s been an explosion though….