"I love to cook," said Sue as she passed me my plate. It was early evening, and the Scottish farmhouse kitchen was filled with delicious smells of fresh seafood with a hint(1) of spice. We were warm, tired, but content after a day spent walking on a hidden beach with the colors of Autumn looking over us from the adjacent forest. I was ready for this meal, and I knew that it would be good. What I hadn't expected was its presentation. "What?" I exclaimed as I saw the huge oyster shell stuffed with shrimp and mussels in a creamy sauce, with garden herbs and a flower on top. "Good grief, this is gormet," I commented, a little unsure of whether or not(2) I should actually eat it; it looked too pretty. Sue does love to cook, and every time I come and visit my father and step-mother, she quickly throws together flavors and textures of food that are satisfying, memorable, and as colorful as her oil paintings. "I always cook what I like," she said, emphasizing the "I". "And it's just as well(3) that your father likes what I cook," she smiled. "Dad, you're a lucky man," I said as I heaped shrimp onto a large piece of potato. Even the vegetable side dish was unusual: raw zucchini in thin curls, tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette. Well, my plate was empty in only a few minutes. I resisted the temptation to eat my dad's baked creation: an Eve's pudding which is a dish of baked apple with vanilla cake on top. I'm trying to avoid dessert for health reasons, and because I have too much of a sweet tooth. It wasn't difficult though to resist this time, as I wanted to savor the flavors Sue's seafood work of art.
1. 'A hint' is like a little clue, or a small taste. It is also a verb.
a. I don't know what the answer is; give me a hint.
b. He hinted that there might be a wedding in a few months.
c. The dessert had a hint of sherry which gave it a small kick.
2. The position of 'whether or not' should be practiced as it is a very native-sounding expression.
a. He was trying to decide whether or not he should study abroad for a few months.
He was trying to decide whether he should study abroad for a few months or not.
b. She couldn't remember whether or not she had paid her phone bill.
She couldn't remember whether she'd paid her phone bill or not.
c. They discussed whether or not to invest.
They discussed whether to invest or not.
3. 'It's just as well' means 'it's a lucky thing that...'
a. It's just as well that you brought your umbrella because it's started pouring with rain!
b. It's just as well we caught a taxi. We would have never got to the train station on time by walking!