Hoppo Bumpo (n): A children's game. Played by folding one's arms and hopping on one leg. Aim is to bump opponents, so that they lose their balance. Last person standing wins.

March 23, 2009

Giving-up and giving-away

Have you ever had a serious cooking slump? You know, the point where you have suddenly run out of ideas and motivation? And you start having thoughts like ... if I have to cook another meal I think my head might explode?

I realised I had hit such a point last week. I wasn't feeling well and Mr HB had taken the domestic reigns. As I tucked into the wonderful dinner ... which I didn't have to prepare, you understand ... I voiced my appreciation. Mmmmm, what's this? I asked. Two minute noodles with a dash of soy sauce, Mr HB replied proudly.

Can you see where I'm going here? Culinary inspiration here at Chez Hoppo Bumpo, is clearly on a sharper downward trajectory than the world economy.

So its time to pull up my socks and make an effort again. To restore some simple creativity, I am going to resurrect my stand-back-and-throw recipes, next week. In celebration of giving-up suspicious, calorific, instant-meals comprising hydrolysed vegetable protein (blah!) and a long list of E-numbers, I am having a little cookbook giveaway.

I am offering a brand new copy of best-selling Australian book 4 Ingredients. This cookbook, which is a favourite of mine, has a load of easy-peasy recipes, using ... you guessed it ... 4 or less ingredients. Lovely simple dishes. And I don't think there's even the vaguest mention of two minute noodles anywhere.

To be in the running, all you need to do is leave a comment revealing the most shameful concoction you have dared to call a meal.

Anyone, anywhere may enter*. All you need to do is leave a traceable link, such as a blog or e-mail address, so I can contact you if you're the winner. I will draw the winner, at random, next Monday 30 March at 9pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time).

Well, I must be off now. There are some fish fingers that simply won't thaw themselves.

* Please note that as this is an Australian book, so it uses metric measurements and may refer to some Australian products. If you are outside of Australia, but a resourceful cook, this probably won't bother you too much.


  1. You have no idea how much I need this cookbook. Our house is in dire need of some cooking mojo. Here is a typical week at Chez Badskirt.

    - Monday - tacos. all ingredients come in the box (usually)
    - Tuesday - eat out.
    - Wednesday - pasta and sauce. prepackaged. sometimes we go wild and add parmesan.
    - Thursday - eat out
    - Friday - pasta. Same style as Wednesday or splurge and buy gnocci.
    - Saturday - bacon sandwich. this is a popular one in our house. two pieces of white bread with bacon. served dry.
    - Sunday - chicken with whatever seasoning came in the package usually african spice. no veggies. no salads.

    We have no children and this is how we eat. Should this embarrass us? Craig would love it if I were to try something new!

    Great giveaway.

  2. When I lived in the Middle East there was a period of several months where I subsisted solely on salty crackers and yogurt for dinner, because it didn't require any preparation or cooking. The bonus was I lost a lot of weight, the downside was that I completely lost my cooking mojo as well!

  3. Your post is SO apt...not only am I sick to death of making meals (most from scratch) I am even sicker of my kids forking their dinners suspiciously asking, rudely, "what IS this??" I just want to throw the dinner at them and tell them to cook it themselves!! Bring on the 2 minute noodles and soy sauce!
    My biggest cooking shame is giving the kids plain pasta with grated cheese...that's it! You just get so tired of the whining you end up just giving them what they'll eat!!

  4. I don't think I ever HAD motivation to cook...

    My most shameful "meal"--I'd have to say sliced apple and sunflower butter to dip the slices in. My daughter loves it, and my husband wasn't home, so that is what I "made" for dinner a few weeks back. Hey! It had protein!

  5. We went to the movies last time I had serious I-won't-cook-itis. We split a large popcorn, had two glasses of red wine and a chocolate ice cream each for dessert. Starch, icecream, sugar, alcohol -- that's four ingredients, right?

    (Don't enter me in the draw: I've got a copy!)

  6. My shameful meal is mi-goreng and a can of tuna! I will even more shamefully admit I have made it several times over!
    Cooking for my family is always a pain, my sister is vegetarian, and my boyfriend loves his meat, and mum always wants low in fat...it makes a trying time coming up with something that everyone will like! So I definitely feel your pain!

  7. Oh dear lordy, you and I, two peas in a pod! My most shameful meal was a curried sausages gone wrong. I didn't think it was thick enough so I kept adding cornflour until it was like a yellow green pot of pond slime with bobbing vegetable and meaty creatures.

  8. Oh! Are you meant to thaw fish fingers? ooops.

    Hmmm.. most shameful meal? Oh to have just one to write ;-) There is a distinct use of baked beans and sausages in the children's meals but, unlike when CK is in charge, at least I heat them up!(baked beans not sausages. I am not so bad I feed my children raw sausages)

    I must confess the worst are the Friday night pickie teas which turn into a yellow dinner when CK preps them - crisps, chips, bread and butter, cheese, pasta (dry), crackers, stringy cheese with some tinned sweetcorn as a sop to my desire for non-starchy/carbohydrate based product.

  9. Oh my there are a lot of cooking challenged people out there today. Trashalou: Fish fingers are supposed to be cooked from frozen - how do I know? I had to read the box every time I fed them to my kids because I was too sleep deprived after the birth of my third child to remember!

    My worst "meal" was technically cooked by my husband while I was pregnant with our first child. He asked me what I wanted, I said "nothing" that went back and forth a couple of times until I said "nuke me a baby potato and don't put anything on it" He couldn't help himself, he added a sprinkle of salt, lucky for him I needed the salt!!!!

  10. I am normally a good, inspired chef (cough). Tonight I was so tired and so ingredient challenged that dinner consisted of pasta, topped with chicken chilli tenders (frozen), delicately hacked with scissors, with a slurp of Aldi pasta sauce on top, oh and some frozen grated cheese that had barely defrosted. Sadly the family loved it!

  11. Let's see...lunch for the little one - rice with soy sauce. That's it. Maybe rice with teriyaki. ;-) It's fast, and I can do it with one hand (while holding the newborn).

    Rice for the family??? Hmm...two minute noodles with a fried egg on top. It's actually really good!

  12. We've been trying to cook different things every week, but lately it does seem like we are eating the same things all the time (our cupboards are full of those easy quick noodles :p). Because we are trying to avoid any of those E numbers that we can (some of them make hubby very very sick), making some meals is proving to be difficult. :/ Since we don't have a microwave we don't eat ready meals so I guess thats a good thing, even though sometimes I wish we had a microwave so I could have popcorn :p

    Most shameful? re-heated potato wedges from the night before but I added cheese to the top to melt. Which sounds like a good idea, but something should have told me to leave out the cheese. I even asked hubby (wasn't hubby at the time), if he thought the cheese would be all right after spending a few days riding around in the back of the boot (travelling around NZ). yeah gave us both food poisoning :/ he never lets me live it down :p but at least now I know cheese shouldn't be kept in the boot :p (not fun having food poisoning in a strange city), (also not to order potato wedges as an appetizer, was enough to feed 6 people o.0)

    Sounds like a great cookbook :)

  13. Hi, from Portugal!!
    Well the rice burned, the meat was too salted, and there was no sallad left to save the meal. And then the food was'n enough for all,
    ohh horror..

  14. So many things I want to know, being an American and all... but mainly, what's an E number?

    Saddest meal was probably giving my daughter some cheese slices, crackers, and sandwich meat, rolled up with a toothpick through it. For presentation, you know. And melon on the side.

    Here's a stand back and throw sort of idea I'm going to try soon. Canned beans (your choice), drain and add to pot. Cut up some sausages, add to pot. Add water/broth to cover and simmer for a bit. Instant soup.

    Also, my verification word is "fartm". Wonder if that's an omen about the bean soup.

  15. This is an excellent giveaway. Thank you! No matter how many chef friends throughly explain how to make sauces, it's like a foreign language to me. I at first tried to serve some kind on liquid that was supposed to go with turkey then utterly sent it to it's final resting place down the drain. Thank god it didn't clog!
    Great site. Thanks again!

  16. I lost my cooking mojo YEARS ago.... I've gone from home-grown organic foodieness to two-minute-noodle lover without a problem. My diet constitutes an entire HALL of shame...

    During impoverished back-packer times in my early 20's I was known to have subsisted on popcorn, crackers, fromage frais, watermelon and apples. Once I had to just buy a packet of chewing gum and read a good book...

    In more recent times I'm fed by the man of the house, who is the only thing standing between me and a bowl of cereal for dinner. If I stay back late at work (on the rare sans-child day) the usual fare is a packet of chips (crisps) and a cup of milo.

  17. Oh how I love this post... and all the comments following. I am not alone in the world it seems (although that doesn't make it right!!!). I seriously wonder if I should even admit to this... but... here... goes... almost on a weekly basis we eat spaghetti withcannedCampbellssauce. Did you get that? I typed it really quickly in the hope no one could read it. Shame, shame, shame. BUT, in my defence (did you see this coming?), I USED to make a delicious bolognaise sauce. I only stopped when my husband said he prefered the canned variety! SWINE! Why bother?!

  18. Ummm this book sounds GOOD. Generally meals are good here - but like you feeling sick of meal planning, "what is for dinner" and spending so much time in the kitchen cooking then resting my pregnant body. Then when this little one comes - I wont be able to spend the time in the kitchen. Have had a meal about 3 - 4 years ago that was terrible we had eggs on toast. I wished we did eat more simple food then meals.

  19. I have a great stand back and throw meal - baked risotto. I'll email you the recipe because when I can't be bothered, I drag that one out. Awww yeah.

    My most shameful.. Hmm. I have to think about this. Because usually I cop out if I am too tired and get cheap and cheerful take away. My most shameful would be when I pretend I have been soooo busy I can't do anything, so Matt has to cook. HA!! And when Matt's not here, I have been known to indulge in 2 minute noodles. YIKES!

  20. Notice I haven't been posting recipes on Hollyhock Hollow of late? Cooking slump too- although I am making something yummy tonight.

    Shameful meals- Last Monday I stuck a cheese kransky in a roll and called it dinner and on Sunday night I whipped up two mugs of milo. The milo was tasty, the Kransky not so.

  21. Goodness, I'm impressed with what people consider inadequate meals. Pretty fancy, by my standards ;)

    For me, FOUR ingredients would be two more than most of my meals involve. This book could mean a big upward step in la Cuisine de Quinn!

  22. Hmmmm, does chocolate count? In my honours year my flatmate was known to cook for me when she couldn't stand the sight of me having crumpets and butter again.

    Last night Sam and Chloe had left over stir fry (he cooked the night before, in fact come to think of it, the only cooking I've done in the last month was ramming a chook in the oven). I had a peanut butter sandwich.

    It's funny how I have the energy to make cakes but not dinners.

  23. I would have to say this weird scrambled eggs with spagetti and tomato ketchup on top = eek.

  24. How bout steamed rice, canned corn kernals and mayonnaise? Now, let me clarify that I think this is bloody delish (must be Japanese Kewpie mayo) but most people think it's horrid. I 'discovered' this culinary delight while living in Japan - I couldn't face dried fish for breakfast so I resorted to this instead.

    I happily lived on steamed rice and soy sauce or melted cheese for most of my uni days. I think it's shameful now, but back then I loved the stuff.

  25. We have the issue of being very lazy shoppers, so there's never anything edible in the house to make into anything resembling a "meal". Gosh my most shameful have been plentiful... Usually concoctions of tinned food long lost in the back of the cupboards...

    - tuna, beetroot and boiled eggs.
    - nachos consisting of nothing but kidney beans and toast cut into "soldiers"
    - cous cous with sweet chilli sauce...

    you get the jist :)

  26. Um, living by myself means that meals are sometimes a bit sketchy ... Let's see - these are not all in the one meal but each a single meal. A tin of tuna. Leftover capsicum dip and a few rice crackers. An icy pole. A can of PepsiMax. Half a family sized block of chocolate. Potato chips. Eeeep. The sad irony of this is that I am actually an OUTSTANDING cook, but when there's only one of you...if you cook a good meal there's generally enough to eat the same meal for the next week. I know I should be freezing it, but...meh. :)
    And Leigh..an 'E number' is something to do with all those nasty fake colours and preservatives and flavourings etc etc that our processed food is crammed with now :/


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