My husband has never been much interested in cooking.    Eating, yes…   though I don’t think he could be called a foodie.   Discussions  such as I enjoy having with my son and my brother as to whether the addition of a different herb or spice would add to the element of flavour – these refinements are not my husband’s forte.   But he enjoys his food and I like cooking, so we get along fine.   In fairness also, he never had much time to cook.   But now, in his retirement, I find him slowly and at his own pace taking up one or two specialities.

Two of his male friends are accomplished makers of marmalade.   My mother was a jam maker amd after I married she supplied my household as well as her own, so I never learned this art.   My father was a bee-keeper and provided  us with honey.   The most I ever did was occasionally make marmalade out of a tin.    So, a few years ago when John arrived home without any warning whatsoever with 2 kilos of Seville oranges, I was not at all pleased.   In fact, I felt like taking the oranges one by one and throwing them at him.   However, I decided this was his venture, so apart from helping him a little with the preparation, I refrained from worrying about the boil, the test for setting etc but cleared off and left him to it.   Much to my surprise, a batch of lovely, bitter marmalade, far better than anything I had ever made or could buy was the result.   He has made all our marmalade every year since.

Recently he decided to make bread by hand.   There followed a period of research;  reading and buying various cook books, researching and  buying tins etc.   (My tins, for some reason, were not deemed suitable.)   This process went on  for so long  that I despaired of any actual bread ever being produced.   But I held my tongue – John’s ways are mysterious.   One day I came upon him in occupation of my – I should now say ‘our’ – kitchen and realised that bread making was actually in progress.   Immediately I began to fret about temperature of liquids, amount of  salt, place of raising, and then I remembered – this is not your project – and again I took myself off and did something else and left him to it.

This morning I was served delicious wholemeal bread – the maestro thinks it could have risen a tad more but I have no complaints, topped with lovely home made marmalade.

Secrets of assisting husband to learn to cook?   Vacate kitchen.   Do not offer advice.   Enjoy results!