When I grew up everybody knew how to cook but nobody ever thought about food. Now everybody thinks about food and hardly anyone knows how to cook. It’s an extraordinary shift in national culinary perception. I learnt out of necessity when I came down from university to London, and realised that poverty meant cooking or starve to death. In those days there were very few restaurants and no celebrity chefs to give you delusions of culinary grandeur and refreshingly few cookbooks to live up to. My mother spent her whole early married life cooking from the two Good Housekeeping step by step guides. They came in yellow and white, contained black and white photographs and the pages were encrusted with spilt food. They were full of the food of my childhood, but I had no idea how you went about getting it from page to plate. Jocasta Innes prevented me from actully starving. Her Pauper’s Cookbook was my Good Housekeeping equivalent and quite soon I could produce two dishes: beef casserole nicoise and ginger biscuit pudding (there was another book, Cooking in a Bedsit by Katharine Whitehorn which contained a list of items one needed to embark on a culinary career, two of which were a sheet of newspaper and an open window, but I don’t remember any of her recipes). Jocasta’s two dishes appeared at just about every dinner party we ever had. Back in the culinary desert of the Eighties, not only did you have few culinary aspirations, but you also had no money and quite likely a parent who had gone through the war and instilled in you the virtue of thrift; you only ever bought what you could afford and never threw away any leftover food. You cooked what your mother had cooked for you and shopped at the end of the day, when everything was cheap, at street markets, made stock out of bones given you by the butcher and consumed smoked salmon offcuts for a wildly extravagant treat. I am now completely unable to throw away any unfinished food and the fridge is full of saucers and bowls of tiny bits of the previous weeks meals (that was the other thing - sell-by dates did not exist. So long as it smelt right, it was ok to eat). ‘Doh mum, are you trying to kill us with these little plates of salmonella poisoning?’ my children, the fridge police, are fond of saying when they are open the fridge looking for something fashionable to eat. Well, little plates of salmonella poisoning make an excellent weekend soup as i do not tell my children. My daughter, who cooks by instinct far better than I ever will, has grown up with TV celebrity chef culture; our kitchen is awash with highly-coloured cookbooks, and she has absolutely no qualms about chucking stuff out of the fridge and experimenting with unfamiliar ingredients. Her cooking is flamboyant and experimental. Her kitchen gods are Nigel Slater and Mark Hix and the fact that she was brought up on a diet of sausages, shepherds pie, macaroni cheese, roast beef and kedgeree (what my mother cooked for me) has not influenced her style at all - when she is at home, our kitchen is an international melting pot: fish sauce, coconut, garlic. She makes wonderful tarte tatin and beef wellington and can knock up a miso soup whenever she feels like it. Now that we (mostly) share a kitchen, I thought it’d be interesting to see how these two styles, essentially contradictory, worked together; how old style ‘adult’ British cooking, thrifty, leftover, filling and straightforward, could exist alongside, or perhaps be updated by, flamboyant, celebrity style modern ‘youth’ food - would we produce a strange fusion of the two and would this be of any use to those who are strapped for cash, but dying for a more exciting, perhaps even healthier diet. We thought we’d spend a year writing down what we each cooked every day to find out.