Over the last few months, like a lot of mums and dads, I have had to spend more hours in the kitchen than I care to count. During lockdown and over the summer months I know lots of people who used their enforced time at home to expand their culinary capabilities and then post the evidence for all to see on social media. There were perfect sourdough loaves, impressively decorated cakes and buns, and I have watched on repeat the video of one friend who managed to perfect making a big scotch egg, so that when she cut into it, lovely golden, glossy egg yolk poured out. Yum!
I could say that I too have been enriching my family's diet with new and wonderful recipes, but that would be an out and out lie.
I have two very fussy eaters in my family of five and, rather than having to cook three different dinners, I admit that I generally cook one very large, fairly bland dish that no one can object to.
I have tried making much more exciting fare and just presenting it to them, working on the theory that if they are hungry, they will eat, but it turns out that that way of thinking doesn't work in my house.
Instead, I find it more truthful to say that if they are hungry, they still won't eat their dinner but will instead go on scavenging expeditions later in the evening, gorging on toast and biscuits.
While my dinners may be boring, at least I know I'm stuffing my family full of veggies and vitamins, not the carbs and empty calories they consume when left to their own devices.
I lay the blame for these unadventurous palettes firmly at my husband's feet because it can't possibly be my fault.
Our two girls, very much their daddy's daughters, have a list as long as your arm of foodstuffs they won't entertain the notion of eating. Our son, who takes after me in temperament and taste buds, is happy to sail through life at a leisurely pace, tasting anything and everything that comes his way.
In my days of travelling and working abroad, before finding love and starting a family firmly anchored my itchy feet back home in Northern Ireland, I was lucky enough to try lots of different cuisines. I've eaten snails in France, zebra in Kenya, fugu, otherwise known as pufferfish, in Dubai and cane rat in Senegal.
These days, despite my previous food adventures, I don't eat a lot of meat, with only the occasional bacon sandwich luring me back. I'm also not half as brave or daring as I used to be when it comes to unusual ingredients.
But this week I heard of a drink which may well change that. I'm not a big drinker but, when I get the opportunity to indulge, I love nothing more than a wee gin. I've tried nearly all the varieties, each with an assortment of herbs, spices and botanicals adding their special something to the taste. This particular addition to the market uses ants which apparently add a lovely citrussy taste.
What interests me though, is how on earth people come up with such wonderful ideas. Perhaps they're just following in the inventive footsteps of our earliest ancestors. What was the process that made early man think: "I wonder how this meat would taste if I flung it in the fire for a bit?" Or: "I'm just going to leave this bit of fruit here to ferment and then eat it to see what happens."
Without these early experiments we wouldn't have our Sunday roasts or our wee bottle of gin, with or without additional ants, to go alongside it, and then how boring would our diet be?
Almost as boring as my cooking.
Anyone for a top up?