Teaching James to cook – Part One

I have taken it upon myself to teach my idiot neighbour (his own words!) to cook. James is a bit of a character, an extravert with paranoiac tendencies (again, his own words!). His usual weekly shop includes chips, pie, fish, bread, sandwich-spread, tinned fruit, ice-cream, Pavlova, coffee and, most importantly, Cava.

Meet James. He wants you to know that he has cut his hair since this picture was taken.

The first lesson was in making a simple pasta sauce with tinned tomatoes, onion and bacon.  We also added aubergine because I had some which needed using up.

The end result was (…in his own words) Pop-tastic! Not ‘alf!


  • 1 Onion
  • 1 clove of Garlic
  • 6 Rashers of bacon
  • about 6 pieces of pepper preserved in oil
  • 1 Aubergine (not compulsory, I just happened to have one in the cupboard)
  • 500g carton of tomato passata or a tin of tomotoes
  • 1 teaspoon mixed herbs
  • Dried pasta, a cup per person
  • a handful of grated cheese



Chop the onion and garlic finely. Using scissors, chop the bacon into chunks.

Fry the onion, garlic and bacon in a little of the oil from the preserved peppers.

When the onion is beginning to soften, add the pepper, aubergine and mixed herbs and fry for a little longer.

Add the tomato and simmer until the aubergine is tender.

Next, put the pasta into a saucepan and add boiling water. Bring to the boil on a high heat and then turn down to ‘simmer’. Be sure to keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t boil over.

When the pasta is al dente (meaning ‘just done’ as opposed to ‘mush’) serve with the sauce and a generous sprinkle of cheese on top; see HERE the little video of James trying to find out if the pasta is ‘just right’.

… what James learned today

  • what al dente means;
  • how to make a simple scrumptious meal; and
  • the contrast between feeding yourself ‘stupid & lazy food’ and easy home-cooked food is huge – it tastes better, goes further, makes you feel better and is cheaper.

…I have a lot to learn but I’m looking forward to the next lesson.

2 thoughts on “Teaching James to cook – Part One

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