Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Wanderer Returns

My Beloved is home again, and not happy. He didn't feel well and wanted to go straight to bed. So many times he has been like this when something has happened that didn't suit him. Am sure he really does (think) he is ill, but once things are back to normal always he has a very sudden recovery. So perhaps psychosomatic?
When we were first married, B was for ever going to the doctors because he didn't feel well (didn't like his job, or my parents were nagging him - we lived with them for the first couple of years and he really wasn't a very happy bunny), and even after we moved to our own home still had 'bad days' when work wasn't going as well as he wished. He once brought out his medical card which had three pieces of paper in it with every pill written down he had been described in the previous 2 years - and showed it to a friend (who happened to have medical training unknown to B) and who later told me that my husband was obviously a medical friend "a hypochondriac" (had to look that up in the dictionary, and think he was right).

When we moved to Leeds things got better, but when I went to hospital with cellulitis, he really was 'ill' from the very first day until I returned home. My daughter who had come to look after things, said she had got very cross with him as every time she wanted him to do something he took to his bed. Yet - when I returned home, he was 'suddenly' as right as rain again. But still not prepared to do more than he absolutely had to.

So - yesterday - once back home, he let me know how ill he was "feel my forehead, I've got a high temperature" (it was quite cool!!!!), and "don't get me any supper", don't want to eat anything today.... My spirits sank the moment he walked through the door as there was no "glad to be home, I've missed your cooking". A couple of hours later he rose saying he felt "a bit better" and began slicing the bread baked that day. Was so miffed with his 'man flu' attitude let him get his own supper (scrambled eggs on toast). Later he ate something else, then said he wanted some ice-cream so went out to the shop to buy some.
Suggested to B he went to bed at 9.00pm (which he often does anyway) as he was 'poorly', and he said he probably would, but then realised he wanted to watch some TV at that time, so stayed up until later. Myself didn't even go to bed at all (having nodded off more than once in front of the TV after that), so that at least has given me an early start to today (it is now just after 6.30am).

Am pretty sure B will be fine once he gets up, has his coffee/breakfast, read the newspaper, done 'his' crossword (and hope he doesn't do mine as well which he sometimes does), but probably he will not be well enough to do the washing up - but there isn't much of that anyway as I cleared most of it up yesterday (except B's supper plates).
Yes I know I'm grumbling (again) about the man I love dearly, but he really does irritate me, for most of the time I feel either like his servant,his mother, or his nurse (all I suppose are much the same thing). I want to feel like a wife that is loved. But then B has admitted he doesn't really know what love is (other than the 'conditional' kind). And I doubt he ever will.

Was looking forward to having a heap of comments from my 'virtual friends' to bring light into my gloomy morning, and there was only one!!! Have to remember life is not all about me (so in some ways perhaps I'm as bad as B re this). Other people have other things to do than keep writing comments.

Anyway, enough of the moans. Thank you minimiser deb for writing. Many people do believe that a curry is always 'hot', and so often avoid eating them. Very few are (or need be), and there are many really fragrant and creamy curry recipes that have little heat (if any) at all. Could give several recipes for these, but as they have lengthy ingredient lists (which I always try to avoid as these can be off putting) myself tend to use a branded (named) curry sauce of a flavour and strength we like. There are some really lovely ones on the market at the moment (and often on offer).

Yesterday gave a recipe for the puffy 'chapatis' (pooris/puris), and there is also a sweet version (more a pancake batter than a dough) that could be served as a dessert (and not necessarily after a curry). It's one of those desserts (English translation given as: 'sweet, crisp, crunchies'), that is made with very basic ingredients, yet turns out as something 'different and special'. Fennel seeds are best, but use ground if that is all you have. If you haven't the fennel/cardamom, you could substitute as 'sweeter' spice such as cinnamon, or allspice
Malpuri: serves 4
10 oz (300g) self-raising flour
3 tblsp semolina
5 fl oz (150ml) yogurt
half tsp bicarbonate of soda
water to mix
butter/ghee as needed
5 oz (150g) sugar
5 fl oz (150ml) water
1 tsp fennel (seeds or ground)
1 tsp ground cardamom
4 tblsp double cream
Mix together the flour, semolina and bicarb, adding a little water to make a thick batter. Cover and leave in a warm place for a couple of hours.
Meanwhile, put the sugar, the 5 fl oz water and fennel seeds into a pan over low heat. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes until slightly syrupy. Remove from heat and stir in the cardamom. Set aside but use warm, so reheat if necessary.
To cook the 'pancakes', heat some butter/ghee in a deep frying pan or wok (enough to shallow fry). When it begins to smoke (don't let it burn), lower the heat and pour in a ladleful of the batter. Fry, turning once until golden on both sides. The discs should be spongy in the centre and crispy round the sides. Drain on kitchen paper and arrange on a warm plate.
When all have been fried, pour over the warm fennel syrup, drizzling over a spoonful of double cream over each serving.

One of my favourite recipes for colder days is 'Cassoulet'. A French peasant dish that used small amounts of meat that might be to hand, so a pork hock (or piece of gammon or bacon) would be included, maybe some chicken joints (or just chicken wings), certainly sausages (Toulouse being the traditional ones), beef meatballs would cook well in this dish or even some rabbit... Think about it - a bit of bacon, one sausage, one chicken wing and one meat ball (maybe even half a sausage and half a meat-ball) would make one very substantial portion because of all the other ingredients which are vegetables, beans (pulses not green beans) and tomatoes plus a few others. The crusty topping is a traditional part of the dish, not essential but really improves it.
So here is a very basic recipe to use as a guide, and then - if you have small amounts of the meats suggested above, you could include one or more of these. Otherwise leave out and make do with just sausages.
Myself find my home-made baked beans (thawed from the freezer) really give this dish a 'lift', possibly due to the treacle or brown sugar used when making them. But most cooked/canned beans could be used (cannellini, haricot, borlotti, butter beans, but not red kidney beans - the colour doesn't work with this dish and these are best used with a mixed bean dish or chilli con carne). If including meat, then reduce the amount of sausages with this recipe. If you wish you could sliced the part-cooked sausages and stir them into the bean mixture and put the lot in a casserole dish instead of layering. If using an assortment of meats these could also be mixed in to allow the flavours to combine.
Economy Cassoulet: serves 4 - 6
2 tblsp light olive oil (or sunflower)
2 onions, thickly sliced
2 carrots, chopped
1 - 3 cloves garlic (to taste) crushed
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 tblsp chopped fresh herbs (parsley, thyme)
2 x 400g cans any 'white' beans (drained)
half pint (300ml) chicken stock
5 fl oz (150ml) water
salt and pepper
12 pork sausages (pref Toulouse)
3 slices stale bread, crumbed
1 oz (25g) melted butter (or oil)
Put 1 tblsp of the oil in a large pan and fry the onion and carrots for a few minutes, then stir in the garlic, bay leaves and herbs. Cook for a further minute then stir in the beans, stock, and water. Bring to the boil, simmer for five minutes then add seasoning to taste.
Meanwhile, put the remaining oil into a frying pan over medium heat and fry the sausages until they are browned all over.
Take a casserole dish and spoon in some of the bean mixture (remove the bay leaves), arrange half the sausages on top, cover these with more beans, add the rest of the sausages, and finish with a layer of beans. Place on lid (or cover with foil) and cook in the oven at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 35 minutes (or longer depending upon what meat is used). Stir the melted butter and breadcrumbs together, then remove the lid/foil from the casserole and spread half the breadcrumbs on top, and bake for a further 20 minutes, then break up the crusty top and stir it into the top part of the Cassoulet, then cover with remaining crumbs and continue cooking until the crumbs are golden and really crisp. This makes for a really thick and crunchy top layer.

Did I mention yesterday that for once I baked the bread on a baking sheet and not in a loaf tin? this caused it to spread both sideways and upwards, but still make a lovely crusty loaf. Having used half milk/half water instead of all water, the crumb was a slightly softer texture and it made wonderful toast (even though each slice was too wide to fit in the toaster so had to be cut in half). Mind you I toasted a whole slice under the grill - just enough to 'toast' to very light gold (if that) on both sides before being lightly spread with butter on one side, then topped with sliced tomatoes and on top of that sliced cheese, then popped back under the grill to cook until the cheese was melting down the sides and bubbling on top. That was my supper and I LOVED it. The bread certainly was gorgeous. Think I might make it this way again but form the bread into two 'baguettes' in the hope they don't spread so wide and a slice will fit in the toaster without further 'trimming'.

The gingerbread/cake made also turned out well, but more a 'cake' than gingerbread as it rose in the middle. I trimmed the sides and ate these (for research purposes of course) and was surprised - considering the amount of golden syrup used - it didn't taste overly sweet. Apart from eating as a cake, slabs of the gingerbread can also be heated in the microwave with some syrup/butter/cream (also heated to make a sauce) poured over it.

The idea of the sauce came to mind after seeing the 'empty' tin still had syrup coating all the inside surfaces, so today will put a little water in the tin, then place the tin in a pan with a heavy weight on top (the 2lb weight from my balance scales), then pour hot water round and place over a low heat so the syrup then softens and collects together (and can then be more easily be poured from the tin). However little there is, can't waste a drop of it. Not in my nature.

Beloved has just tottered in. Says he has an upset tum (had to get up three times in the night), so spending the day in bed. He thinks it might have been a Chinese meal he ate whilst away, but more likely it is a bug that is going around. So now I feel mean about thinking there wasn't much the matter with him. But - having said that - it does seem that he (and probably most men) seem unable to be ill without making a song and dance about it. When we women feel ill, most of the time we keep our mouths shut, and struggle on coping with what has to be done.

Will shortly have to prepare something for B to eat - he is (in a very weak voice) requesting food, and my suggestion of plenty of fluids (to replace those lost) and dry toast to 'bind things together' has not gone down well. He wants something 'cooked'. Well, he'll have to want. For once feel that 'Mum knows best'. It's toast or nothing until he has begun to feel better. Poor B, bet everyone is feeling sorry for him being married to a bully like me. Almost feeling sorry for him myself because of it. Just because I'm me, don't have to like myself as can be a bit of a shrew at times (B would say most of the time). Ah, well...

Just as well I began this blog early, as although it is now nearly 8.30am it looks like I'll be needing to role-play nurse as well as cook, wife and bottle-washer. So need to plan my day, find out where the insurance is for the washing machine is (once B is awake again), phone the company to arrange for a repair man to call, and make sure all the domestic work (culinary or otherwise) is done.

Looks like being a lovely day (well the forecast is good) so - if B is feeling better - might just nip out with Norris for a scoot as am sure this would cheer me up. Otherwise - life as normal.

Back again tomorrow in the hope that things have improved. See you then? Hope so.