Tuesday, June 05, 2012

One Thing After Another!

Apologies for late start this morning. Had an uneventful day yesterday, just tidying up etc, then whilst cooking B's supper (pave steak with new potatoes and peas), had a mishap. B doesn't like me using the smallest saucepan on the larger hob burners (says the flame is too large to fit the base of the pan - this is true), but the smallest pan doesn't sit safely on the small burners and often topples over. This it did yesterday and while I tried to grab the handle before it fell off the hob managed to tip the boiling water over the side of my right hand and wrist! Ouch and double ouch!

Have never scalded myself before, so just gave it a quick cool under the cold tap, then refilled the pan with boiling water from the kettle and put it back on the larger hob, leaving B to fry his steak to the level of 'medium to well done' that he likes, and also put the frozen peas in the microwave to cook (also strain the spuds when done). I retired to the living room and then my hand really did start to sting. It was so painful that when B came back after eating his supper he suggested cooling it with a bag of frozen peas, but me - being me - could see that would mean the peas would defrost and a waste of money!!! Then B had a brilliant idea, he fetched me the chilled, padded bag that we keep in the freezer - used to slide over a bottle of wine for speeding chilling - and I slipped my hand into this, putting the scalded part against the padding and it instantly removed the pain. Of course the pain came back shortly after removal (couldn't keep it in there for long as I was getting frostbite on the other side of my hand), so kept having to put my hand back in the 'chiller', but eventually the pain grew less although I couldn't bear to touch the damaged part - doing so was agony.

Asking B what was causing the pain (there was little more than slight redness and swelling on my hand) he said it was the nerve endings and this made me think of a similar pain that I believe happens when people get shingles. I've not had this (yet!), but this pain is also caused by the 'nerve endings', so probably an ice bag on a 'shingle area would also give relief. Already I am considering buying a pack of those plastic bags that have large 'bubbles' to fill with water to freeze (sold to make round ice-cubes to put in drinks), these 'bags' laid over the area of skin with a shingles 'rash' am sure would help to ease any pain. The bags can keep being refrozen as they thaw and who knows, it may cut down the length of time the shingle pain stays (which can be several weeks/months)

Late last night thought it would be impossible for me to type on the comp. keyboard this morning as even waggling my fingers caused too much pain in the affected parts, but thankfully this morning - after (eventually) going to sleep and having got up late - the pain is far less and I can type.

Have to give thanks it was yesterday, as if this happened before I'd done the marathon cook-in I could never have coped.

Thanks for your comments, pleased my tips about making a quiche worked for both Jane and Sairy. It is unusual for me to give tips that mean taking a bit more time and trouble over what we make. Usually I try to give short-cuts, but this time it really is worth taking that little extra effort.

As to me having the energy to cook a lot over a relatively short period of time. Suppose it is fairly easy for me as I've had a lot of experience of cooking for a large number of people, and have found the best way is to be really organised - make lists if necessary, prepare as much as possible ahead, and then get on with it. At my age the only problem is the moving around and carrying things from one place to another (aches and pains in my joints and back), but as a great deal of work can be done sitting in a chair at the kitchen table, this is turning out not to be a problem, the only real difficulty (and this always when the oven is being used) removing hot things from the shelves of our too highly positioned oven. Think it might be worth getting rid of the double oven we have and getting one better suited to my needs. Unfortunately the lower oven (exactly in the right place) does not have very much room (so used only as a grill or for keeping some foods warm), and it does not cook evenly (burns one side and not the other etc).

Even though 'experienced', the two 'cook-ins' done recently have highlighted dishes that I won't be making again as they take a lot of time. Oddly cup-cakes are one as making 36 for my special 'stand' means almost a days work as they really are best eaten fresh - and have to make them in batches, then wait for them to cool before decorating (this alone takes more time than it takes to make and bake them). So cup-cakes will be kept for a time when I have little else to do.

Cake that keep well are always worth making ahead of time - these being fruit cake, gingerbread, flapjack etc., as when stored properly - improve with keeping. Plain unfilled sponge (sandwich or Madeira type) cakes (also well wrapped) can be stored in the freezer.
Cooked quiches can be frozen, but I would never do that, always preferring to make them to be eaten 'fresh' but cool, and the texture is better if left for a few hours before eating (they come to no harm if made the day previously and left (covered) at room temperature - (or in the fridge if very hot weather) so often do make them the day before, or at least very early in the day to eat in the evening.

Vol au vent cases can also be baked a couple of days ahead of use, empty of course - fill as close to serving as possible (didn't bake them early this time as didn't know they'd be needed until almost the last minute). After cooling (and remove any soft pastry from the inside of the cases), store in an airtight tin that has a thin layer of salt sprinkled over the base and covered with kitchen paper. The salt will absorb any moisture in the air/tin and the cases will keep beautifully crisp.

Did not get to see 'Jubilee Superscrimpers' yesterday Jane, wish I had done. At first thought that £50 for a week to feed a family of four sounded a bit 'tight', but when you said this was for only the evening meals then realised it was really too much money. It is surprising how much breakfast, lunch, drinks etc can cost, and these always should be accounted for. Otherwise it's almost cheating.

Certainly own-brands are much cheaper than branded products, and although not always as good (in flavour), have to say I prefer many O.B's over the branded (as their flavour is just as good and often better!).

We had a lovely day as regards weather yesterday, but today has begun cloudy again. Mind you yesterday I felt very cold again, sitting clutching a hot water bottle when sitting in my chair during the day, and you would have laughed at me during the evening, my left hand cuddling the 'hottie', my right hand stuffed inside the frozen 'sleeve'. Bet my body was wondering what was happening.

Hope today the weather at least stays dry enough for your Jubilee celebrations Sarina, but am sure you will have a wonderful time anyway. Good to hear you managed to brave the Morecambe street party on the prom Eileen, this was shown again on the local evening news (TV) and it certainly looked wet and windy, no food visible as it was all hidden under plastic wrappings. Have to say am glad the sailing club stayed indoors purely because I would have hated my food to have got wet after all my efforts (how selfish is that?), and anyway it would have been more enjoyed eaten indoors in the warm, but suppose that is being a bit of a wet blanket (no pun intended) considering the reason for having community street parties in the first place.

As you say Sairy, the amount of work that goes into the celebrations at top level must be incredible. Everything always runs like clockwork, and because of this it looks far simpler than it really is. Was so impressed by the organisation of the Thames pageant, not easy when a lot of the little boats had to keep their distance, manage to row against the wind, and some had large crews, others only one. But all kept to the set 4.mph. Everything works (or should) when the organisation has been done properly, and we Brits certainly know how to do that. Other than (this time) the BBC!
Myself was actually ASHAMED at the BBC's presentation of the Thames event. They normally do these things so well, and this time what happened? The outside microphones didn't always work, so we could see the presenters speaking but not hear a word, the cameras had problems with the pictures breaking up (constantly), and the presenters 'indoors' seemed to have no cues given, so sat there not knowing what to say half the time, just looking blankly at the camera when it switched back to them. Matt Baker is a lovely man, and normally a good presenter, but when it comes to royal occasions we need a Dimbleby who has enough experience to cover any problems that may arise.

One very sad thing - Prince Philip now having to go into hospital, and probably for a few days so he will not be with the Queen today as she goes to church and then drives through London in her coach. Think the church service has already begun so not sure whether she travelled there alone or whether accompanied by Prince Charles.

Considering the age of our beloved Queen and her consort, it seems very unfair that we should expect her to travel around in such inclement weather in the way she had to do during the Thames celebrations. Two 'thrones' had been built on the Royal Barge for the seating, but as the wind was in the wrong direction and it was bitterly cold, the Queen stood the whole time behind the chairs - probably for protection, although Prince Philip stood more to the side (and let us hope it wasn't the cold that has caused his illness), at least there was a canopy over their heads, but otherwise where they stood was open to the elements. Standing for several hours is something that very few people would be able to do at their age even in the most pleasant weather.

Although the Queen has said she will never abdicate, and myseflt fervently hoping that if (or when) she is on her own, then Prince Charles will be at her side as Prince Regent, taking a lot of her work load off her shoulders. For goodness sake, Queen Victoria took years off in her old age, mourning the loss of Prince Albert, but she still stayed Queen, so surely our current monarch can spend a little less time 'working' as she has a son and heir to take over the reins from time to time.

There have been many programmes recently showing the Queen from early age right up to now, and unlike her subjects, she is not able to (or at least won't) 'retire', just having to keep on going, day after day. Often doing three public appearances in one day, but few of us know about any of them (unless one is in our region). Thankfully the Queen does get some 'time-off' with family holidays (Scotland in the summer), and Christmas as Sandringham (or is it at Windsor?) she also spends weekends at Windsor Castle, but often has to attend things from there.
Am sure that our Queen is the best monarch this country has ever had, probably the best in the whole world, and for this we should all give thanks. Even anti-monarchists agree she is a wonderful woman and has done a very good job. The best present we can give her is to make her understand she has earned a bit of a rest, and should put her feet up more often.

A reminder that tomorrow is Norma the Hair day, and also a 'gas-man' is coming to service the boiler (could be anytime from noon onwards), so my blog may be a bit short and not even sure when. But better short than none at all.

Today have to find a better place to store my baking tins (as now have quite a number in constant use), so this means more moving things around in the larder to find a wide shelf that will hold all of them. Also want to make some chicken soup from stock in the freezer and oddments of veggies in the fridge. Soup is the only thing that seems to warm me up at the moment.

While my head is in the freezer will see if I can find a tub of 'ready-cooked' that can be thawed and added to for B's supper. Heck, have just remembered, must also make and bake a loaf of bread as we are running out. Looks like today will be spent mainly in the Goode kitchen (again), but as it is now becoming more 'Shirley friendly' (due to me putting things where I wish them to be - and stay), am finding it pleasant enough to be in there (but it is not nearly as nice to be as the kitchen we had in Leeds, how I miss that!). At least am still 'young' enough to be able to keep on cooking, and nowadays all I'm useful for anyway. At least I have a use. Or at least think I do.

Today is the last of our extended Bank Holiday, so do hope you all manage to make the most of it, enjoy any celebrations you are going to, and accept our British weather as we always do - giving a sunbeam of a smile under our umbrellas. Looking forward to hearing about your festivities, or if only putting your feet up and watching TV. Just keep those comments coming.
Until tomorrow (whatever time it will be), and see you then.