Lynette Fay: I want to be a good cook, even though I'm still famous in my family for "burning water"

I really want to be a good cook. I'm not sure what my motivation is, but I know that I enjoy finding stress free recipes and trying to make meals that everyone enjoys...

Sadly, not everyone is a natural born cookery wiz
Lynette Fay

DURING this latest lockdown, I have become hooked on cookery programmes. I don't necessarily try out many of the recipes, but there's something calming about these programmes. James Martin and Lisa Faulkner and John Torode are particular favourites.

There are certain dishes that instantly bring us back to childhood, aren't there? I have no idea why, but memories of cooking with Mummy and Granny muster up such warm feelings.

My Granny McKeown was a fabulous cook. She never made anything fancy, but what she cooked was always really tasty. I have one of her cookbooks and it's one of my most treasured possessions. It's lovely to see her handwriting and recipes for scones, wheaten bread and treacle bread which she had written out and kept in amongst the pages of the book.

Mummy's apple crumble and apple tart are still a huge hit with all of us. There's still no better treat than a slice of Brenda's apple crumble with cold custard – always cold custard – and only during apple season. Mummy is from Armagh, the Orchard County, so it's fitting that she knows her apples.

I have only recently discovered my real love of cooking. When I lived at home, if I was in charge of boiling the spuds or making that evening's dinner, let's just say that brillo pads were in high demand due to my penchant for burning everything. There are stories in our family folklore of me "burning water". Nonsense, of course.

During the first ever final of Best Celebrity Home Cook the other night, the finalists were given the task of 'rustling up' a meal using butternut squash as the main ingredient. One of the finalists, mentioned that his grandmother makes a "great butternut squash curry".

It was far from butternut squash I was reared. Along with celeriac, the vegetable frightens the life out of me. I never know what to do with it.

The great thing about the final of the Best Celebrity Home Cook final last week was that two men were in the final. They are incredible cooks and, by being in the final, they were flying the flag for 'Dad Cooks' everywhere. The notion that women should be the cooks in the family home is thankfully not given much credence anymore.

Ed Balls was crowned champion in the end, which was no surprise. He is a phenomenal cook. When Mary Berry comments "your family are lucky to have you", you know you have a particular set of skills. He learned lots of recipes from his mother and dedicated his win to "mums and dads who want to do the best for their kids, and learn to cook, and try and do better".

I am one of those mums – I am also one of those people who takes photos of food, is interested in food, and I stand in awe of people who really understand food. I really want to be a good cook. I'm not sure what my motivation is, but I know that I enjoy finding stress free recipes and trying to make meals that everyone enjoys.

Whether or not Granny might have given me her royal seal of approval, I'll never know. All I can do is keep trying.


WHILE we have been trying to find ways to entertain ourselves, community groups have yet again come up with great fundraising ideas during this lockdown. Virtual audiences gather round on Zoom or Microsoft teams instead of the local community hall.

I find it very difficult to say no when I'm asked to take part in such events. So, when I received a text a couple of weeks ago asking me to "answer a few questions for a fundraiser" for Friends of Daisy Hill Hospital, I could not refuse.

Tomorrow night, Oisín McConville is putting me on the spot, as I am the latest guest for Crossmaglen Rangers' This is Your Life series. I ask questions and host events for a living. The tables are rarely turned.

Given that a Tyrone flag will fly from the Rangers' Club tomorrow in my honour, I will expect plenty of Tyrone/Armagh banter, but beyond that, who knows? I'm sweating at the thought of it.

Philomena Begley is a guest in a couple of weeks. Philly once told me that, if she was the Queen, I was the Princess. Can Crossmaglen cope with Red Hand Royalty?

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