Taking Care of Myself

The last thing I want to do when I get home from work, especially when I’m wobbly & in pain is cook. I like baking, I’m not so keen on cooking real food.

But in true British style, this is one of my top go to dinners when the fridge looks a bit bare & I need something that isn’t takeaway. Let’s be honest, take out is more comfort than actual food.

So here it is, Bubble & Squeak : Slacker Edition

Chop & peel the potatoes the shove in a large pan of water with the veg (sprouts are key and must be included). Boil the living crap out of them until soft or the ad break in NCIS.

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When they’re done, use scissors to cut the bacon into bits and fry in a large frying pan. Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan and ignore the calories that you just added.

Spoon in the cooked potatoes and veg and mash with a fork until it’s mushy.
Keep frying as the bit underneath brown (These are gooooood). I used a wok, but that’s only because we don’t have a decent frying pan. I also promise that it tastes a lot better than it looks!

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If you’re feeling extravagant,  poach an egg to put on top of your bubble & squeak. (This is actually worth the effort if you can get it just runny). Mr Geek does this bit as I suck at cooking eggs. Then top it with salad cream.

Salad cream is instead of hollandaise, which is far too difficult to be arsing about with when your bones hurt. That and it tastes nice.

Cue instagram style photo with an out of focus plate in the background. ..

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Calories: unknown (best not to think about it)
Time standing: 10 minutes (15 tops)
Cooking time: 20 minutes ish
No. Of your 5 a day: nearly all of them 🙂

If I thought about it,  much of this could be pre-prepared and frozen. That would of course require organisation and a lack of emotional eating on my part.

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The Arrival of Roboleg and Cake

I’m easily pleased. Give me a leg that bends within normal angles and a 4 layer sponge with buttercream icing and I’m pretty darned happy.

After the fun and games of the past few months of my knees giving way as I walk up stairs because they bend backwards (oh yes, freaky bendy knees), Roboleg arrived today!

I’m going to try a full leg brace to see if knee popping (which leads to hip popping, which leads to back popping, which leads to me laying in bed rattling with painkillers that don’t kill pain, but do make me stoned enough not to care) can be brought into check. Or at the very least stop deteriorating at the current rate of knots that we are doing. The plan is to try one leg. If that works, try with two. Basically, anything to avoid the option of stand with a stick in blinding pain or sit in a wheelchair in less pain but can’t do my job.

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Roboleg has been attached to my right side as that has slipped out so many times I’ve lost count. It’s also the one that fully dislocates rather than my left that is just clicky and loose. The right is also the side that my hip pops out & where my SI sends the majority of its pain. I have to say, my left is fairing much better – less clicky, less damage, bigger boob…

It’s not as clunky as I expected which is nice. Once I’m strapped in, my ability to stand up is really impressive. I stood and baked without falling or resting my torso on the counter to give my hips/knees a break. It made a real difference to the levels of pain. I really hope this isn’t a placebo effect! (And if it is, bring on the pain reducing placebos!)

Anyway, here’s the cake that was created with thanks in part to Roboleg.

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The cake was good.

I’m in Bake Off!

Actually, I’m not. But one of the happier things of cohabiting with your parents is my Dad’s flights of household fancy. In recent weeks this has been a K Mix food mixer (note: this isn’t a funded post!). This is the same one as seen in Bake Off, because by owning this our cooking will become as good as theirs…. logic 😉 

Actually, we do cook quite a lot including baking, making bread and pasta, so it’s not that extravagant. And I’m going to keep repeating that.

So the item most prized in the world arrived yesterday in a great fanfare. And today I decided to actually use it. I’m making the most of my final day before school starts and the relative comfort that the knee braces are giving me to potter about the kitchen.

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Not biscuits,  but hot cross buns. Without the cross. Seriously, no one likes the cross.

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Let’s get this baby going!

We used the recipe from Baking Mad which has a nice baking mode to cook along to in clear steps.

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In went all the stuff (yes, that’s a technical term) and off went the kneading attachment for 5 mins. I did another 5 mins by hand as I like stretching out the dough.

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TinyPants was fascinated watching the magic happen… or at least I think that’s what that face means.

After an hour of trying not to look, the yeast had done it’s thing. Time to make buns!

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And into the oven they went!

So, there you have it. The first use of the much coveted mixing machine.

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And the bake is good.

Zey. Like Za Soop!

So this evening my dearest mother announces she has bought Sainsburys best pre packaged chicken breasts ready seasoned with unidentifiable green stuff and fatty bacon.

You may have detected that I’m not keen on packaged bung it in the oven foods. So I did what any sane person would do when presented with the prospect of processed dinner delights……. I made soup.

Cue:

An onion chopped and fried in butter
3 dinky slightly old carrots (it’s nearly shopping day) chopped up and stuffed in with the onion.
Then 500ml of water with 1 chicken and 1 veg stock cube
About 4 chopped parsnips (about because they were frozen… Could’ve been 5)
Some coriander ground and leaf and a bit of medium curry powder.

Boil. Well, simmer for however long the others decide to leave their dinner to shrivel into an overlooked abomination. (Currently standing at 40 mins)

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When it’s finished boiling, then stick it in a blender and smooooooothe it out.

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Nom.

Slow cooking my life

So it turns out that cooking actual food requires preparation, care and someone willing to prevent the food from burning.  I lack all but the first of these, and frankly my preparation is a bit haphazard.

But with a family of four adults and two kids, food must and will be cooked.

This weekend witnessed what shall now be known as the Great Family Grocery Budget Debate. This went aling the lines of me & LSH being totally frustrated that despite the weekly shop having arrived two days earlier, we lacked the full ingredients for modt meals. Mum responded that we had to remain in budget, and I rather tactlessly duggested that she stopped buying a load of pre-packaged crap. (Actually, she took that remarkably well).

The decision was made that we would make a weeks menu and a list if any other groceries that we need for next week and create an online order product by product on our chosen supermarket.  It became a game and Sunday morning was spent playing Supermarket Wars. I can smugly say that I won. By a margin of £20. And swapped in tiny packets of packaged fresh veg for big 1kg bags of frozen. Bulk buying FTW!

We’ve also looked at our eating habits.

Cue Bean chilli.
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This consists of 5 cans of various beans, chopped tomatoes, spices, onions and a couple of fresh peppers. Stuck gun ho into the slow cooker and left to get on with it while we headed out for a few hours of skating. Enjoyed by most with a helping of rice. TinyPants declared it to be poison. I declared her to be eating it if she wanted pudding.

Tonight’s sliw cooker noms is named ‘WTF do I do with 5 sausages and some left over gammon??!’. Again, I’m working on the basis that LSH has been in London all day and not due back til 8. Meanwhile I have 20 mins in between arriving home and heading out to a Brownie thing with the girls.

Solution? Shove random stuff into a slow cooker on high and hope for the best.

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What have we here? Sausages, torn up gammon, tin of chopped tomatoes, bit of added water, carrots, onions, potatoes, paprika, coriander, 2 garlic cloves, a bit of beef gravy.

2.5 hours and it smells quite edible.

So there you have it. Slow cooking – perfect for those on a budget and who have the culinary ability and inclination of…. err…. someone with Dominoes on speed dial 😉

Slooooow Beef Stew

This stuff is stick to your ribs good, and with the first reports of snow appearing over Engkand today, a nice warming dinner was in order.

Stuff you need (makes enough for 6)

3 small onions (30p)
2 carrots
1 small swede (stew  pack £1)
Braising steak (£3.60)
Bottle of beer (£2)
Oxo cube (20p)
Garlic granules (10p)
Paprika
Oregano
3 bay leaves
Corriander leaf (about 10p for a few shakes each)
Gravy granules (5p)

Baking potato – £1.50 for 6

Total per person £1.55

Get stuff cooked:

Chop up the onions and leave them in a small amount of vegetable oil in the slow cooker on high to sweat.

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Chop up the beef into cubes just under a inch. In a frying pan, braise the beef in a mixture of water and the oxo cube until all sides are browned. Now pour about 1/4 of the beer in the pan. Don’t worry that it fizzes and looks a bit weird.

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Pour the dodgy looking beef and its juice in with the onions. Then in the same frying pan put in the carrots which have been roughly chopped to over 1cm thick and add the rest of the beer. This will soak off any beef that has stuck to the pan as well as making your kitchen smell lovely.

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After boiling for a couple of minutes, add this to the beef and onions.

Now chop up the swede and add this along with a generous (ready bloody loads) of the dried garlic and a good shake of coriander, paprika and oregano.  Finally,  put in three bay leaves.

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Once the lid is on, turn your slow cooker down to medium and cook for a good 5-6 hours (or 10-11 hours on low) until it looks like this:

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30 mins before serving, add a shake of gravy granules to thicken the sauce.

Serve with jacket potatoes and green veg.

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Taste tested this evening. Yum 🙂

I make my left overs taste gooooood – chicken curry of no particular type.

I made roast chicken on Tuesday. And after we ate, we stuck the rest in the fridge for sandwiches… Except no one has had a chicken sandwich, so what to do with a chicken carcass and six hungry people?

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The simple answer is curry. The long answer is this recipe which has been adapted from a variety of different places from friends who make a simple curry powder and jam sauce to a master chef takes you seven hours butter chicken thing (mine is NOT that complicated). What it is not, is out of a jar.

Firstly, I use spices. This curry needs to be mild enough for the kids, but flavorsome enough to keep LSH interested in eating my food. Not too sweet for my Dad, but not sour or too weird looking for my mum. Oh, and I have to be able to cook it with TintPants “helping”. And not make too much mess.

For this you’ll need:

Chicken – cooked. Some. (Depends what’s left on the carcass!)
2 chicken stock cubes
2 onions
1 can of chopped tomatoes
Coriander
Garlic powder (or chopped, whatever)
Garam Marsala powder (about 2tsp)
Medium curry powder (about 2 tsp)
Cumin
Some fresh coriander (it’s yummy)
Randomly chopped up veg (I had courgette, cauliflower and aubergine in the fridge)
Water

Rice to go with it, or equally some naan bread works well too. Or both…

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Roughly chop the onions, and fry them gently in a big pan or wok in a good slosh of oil. Chuck in the garlic and spices and fry the lot until the onions are soft. Then put in the chopped tomatoes and crumble in the stock cubes. Refill the can with water and stick this in too.

Once they’re all in the pan get the sauce simmering, then cover with a lid and leave to simmer on low while you write a blog post about the nice smells coming from your kitchen.

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Give the sauce a taste and then chuck it into a blender (this bit is important!). Once blended, you’ll end up with a thick creamy sauce which has no need of flour to thicken it, which makes my gluten free friends happy.

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It’ll go an orangey colour once blended. This is the colour from the onions and everything when blended. Give it a taste, make sure it’s slightly stronger than you’d like. This is because the rice makes it blander (is that even a word?). But anyway, this is the texture you’re looking for…

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Next you need to strip the chicken carcass. This is foul (ba boom tss!). It’s just not pleasant having your hands buried in a cold, oily chicken. But for the taste, it’s well worth it. Fry the chicken bits in oil and a sprinkle of garam Marsala.

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Then cut up the vegetables into big chunks (over 1 inch) and fry these along with the chicken for a few minutes. Why veg? Well, that chicken won’t feed six so it needs to be bulked out with something, and it’s quite a nice way to add in extra veg to a curry meal. This will definitely have a few of your five a day…

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Stir in the sauce and use a little water to clean out the last bits in the blender and loosen the sauce, then cover and let it simmer until the veg softens (about 25 minutes? Long enough to cook some rice). While it’s simmering, you might want to stir it a few times just to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.

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Finally, eat. You’ve been sniffing this food for around an hour now and you’re probably hungry.

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