Things to do this year that aren’t resolutions…

Definitely not resolutions – as I said earlier, I don’t do those – more along the lines of ambitions. These are things that need to be done if I’m to get my life back on track now my legs are healing – Lymphoedema is incurable, but the leaks have gone and the remaining lesions  have almost completely healed, though I have to accept that either or both might be back at some point – first among them being get out more, before Cabin Fever sets in! If, indeed, it hasn’t already.

Before I can do that, I need to be able to walk again, and not just a very few yards within my flat. First, though,  I have to be able to wear boots, or shoes, at least – these are still some way off as even socks are painful after a few hours and my Ugly Shoes even more so. And I need to stop falling before I break a hip, which probably means dusting off my crutches.

I still have two small, open, wounds on my right leg, near the ankle, so I need to make a protector for that – a hard plastic shell lined with a doughnut of foam, so that no pressure is put on the wounds by boots. That’s doable – I have the material for the shell, I need a foam insulating mat to cut the doughnut from, a strap (got lots), and some glue. In fact, I could make the whole thing mostly out of insulating mat, with just a small plate of hard plastic directly over the hole in the centre, in which case it would be light enough to be held in place with tubular bandage.

I’m not banking on being able to walk far – those days are gone – but being able to go to the pub for lunch, and walk to the Gents and back, or to the bar, would be a massive bonus. Right now, though, even pottering around my flat is purgatory, though I try to hide it from the few visitors I have (but I’ve probably just blown it – don’t care, the charade is too wearing).

A rather more viable target, I suspect, is getting back into bread-making, to which end I’ve just ordered a batch of organic flour:-

2 x 2.5kg Strong white bread flour

2 x 2.5kg Stoneground Wholemeal

2 x 1kg Light rye

2 x 1kg Wholemeal Spelt

2 x 1kg White Spelt (which is actually a pale gold)

1kg (a test batch) Canadian Strong White Bread Flour

This is doable, depending on pain levels which, I’ve just discovered, can be pretty appalling if I have the temerity to indulge in the slightest activity. After almost 18 months of enforced inactivity, my OA has locked down with a vengeance. However, that’s why I use a stand mixer for the grunt work, leaving just the tasks that need more finesse than muscle to be done by hand.

What I want to try is long-fermented bread, which has a better flavour than normal bread. The Canadian flour is, apparently, perfect for such bread, having a particularly robust protein structure.  The problem is knowing how well I’m going to be days in advance which, at the moment, is quite impossible, so it will be a bit by guess and by god, and I’ll have to resurrect my workbook to keep track of what I’m doing, what works, and what doesn’t.

And if those plans work out, I want to make my own sausages and black pudding again, but they are pretty labour-intensive, and need me to be able to spend a lot of time on my feet, which takes us full circle, back to my first point. Might not happen.

Of the three, I’m most confident that bread is doable, as it needs my attention only in short bursts.

A freezer tip: Flour bought in bulk freezes well.** However, as I discovered last week, the paper sacks can freeze to the shelves/basket bottoms if you have an old-style freezer that need periodic defrosting. I found that out the hard way. Put them in plastic carrier bags.

**The best bread I ever made was using flour straight from the freezer, and hand-hot water. Go figure…

And even if I can’t walk any better than I can now, I still need footwear if I don’t want frozen feet when (if), I go out using my powerchair, and they’ll also cushion and support my feet if I can stand in the kitchen. Bare feet make standing painful. When I was struck by lightning in 1983 it literally fried my feet, melting the fatty pads that normally cushion the sole so, in bare feet, all that’s between the bones of my feet and the ground/floor is a thin layer of flesh, and skin – none of the natural padding that used to be there – the sensation is akin to walking barefoot on a shingle beach, and about as much fun.

There’s something else too – I really have to write more.

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17 thoughts on “Things to do this year that aren’t resolutions…

  1. Go you Ron. the ambition is there. here’s hoping your body allows you to carry it out…..here’s to a successful ,happier and (one can hope) healthier 2014. for you and all of us with problems.

    • Hopefully but, personally, I’m not putting money on it. Friday morning I spent 2 hours getting ready for the hospital – it would normally take a lot longer, with rest breaks, but I didn’t have the time. I still haven’t recovered. Pain’s back – it had gone – and I can barely stay awake. At least when I asked for a late appointment for next time, I got one – 11.20. Last time I asked they gave me 09.30! Needless to say, I wasn’t there.

    • That’s going to be at least as problematic as the first, I think – it took me about 5 hours to write this post – should have taken under an hour.

      • I was being selfish with my comment Ron. Your writing always brightens up my day.

        Remember baby steps is the way to go.
        xx

        • Tricia, you worry too much.

          I find, these days, that I’ll write something, then not publish it because it might offend/upset somebody. I’ve got to get past that – it never used to bother me – if something needs saying then publish and be damned!

  2. Well at least you finished it Ron, so that’s a step in the right direction. Sometimes I can write long posts or emails and then get totally confused due to tiredness or pain that I’ll do something stupid and lose the lot as I’m sure you have experienced many, many times.
    It would be great if you could do the things you want, even if you do have to go to the pub in your powerchair, it doesn’t mean you have to stay in the chair at the pub.
    I’ve started making casseroles and shepherd’s pies again as well as trifle for John, (I’m not keen on it as it too sweet for me). Yes I get extremely sore and am usually flat out the next day, but I’m feeling that sense of achievement that I haven’t felt for many a year, and that’s doing my mental health good as well 🙂
    Keep at it Ron, you’ll get there and you will also make that bread – I’ll have a slice or two with the wonderful blackcurrant jelly that I was given at Christmas as I’m saving that for a special occasion 🙂
    Jay xx

  3. This long-fermented bread sounds interesting. There’s a bread called “overnight bread” which a couple or the local bakeries make now and again. It’s a white bread, but it’s heaven because it doesn’t sit like concrete in my tum. I have asked both bakeries for the recipe many times and been told if I ask again they will bake me inside the next batch. They won’t tell.

    I’ve tried a couple of recipes from the net over the years, purporting to be overnight bread, but they were nothing like it. It’s not impossible that I didn’t do the best job of it.

    Does your long-fermented bread get to rise overnight?

    I think with your determination you will walk again, I sure hope so

    Best wishes, plenty of spoons
    Lucy

    • According to the mill where I get my flour (http://www.shipton-mill.com/home ) you do need flour with a particularly strong gluten structure. The gluten in ordinary bread flour breaks down with long fermentation – could account for why you find it so heavy). Did you put oil in yours? Makes a big difference to the texture. Not a lot, I add 30ml of e-v olive oil to a kilo of flour, which is enough to lighten it.

      You can make it overnight or even over a couple of days – it’s fermented in the fridge, which slows down the whole process. Commercially, they probably make a starter and leave it to ferment overnight somewhere cool, without refrigeration, then mix it with more flour and fresh water, to bring it up to the full volume next day. Unless they have a walk-in fridge – probably unlikely in a bakery.

      I think I’ve got some extra-coarse wholemeal flour left, too (my standard bread tends to be a 50-50 mix of white and wholemeal, either bog-standard, the extra coarse, or maybe Spelt, Emmer, or Khorason. All very old, primitive, strains of wheat that have never been hybridised (which makes them suitable for some people who are intolerant, even some coeliacs). Spelt goes back about 6,000 years, completely unchanged, and one of the others – I can never recall which – goes back even further, also unchanged. Probably Khorason – that certainly pre-dates Pharaonic Egypt by some margin.

      If I use wholemeal rye I’ll reduce it to 20% as it can be heavy and it doesn’t rise well.

      Ron.

      • Thanks for the info Ron, this will be very helpful to me I reckon, once I can get back to making bread. I like spelt very much. I agree about the old types of wheat and hybridisation, to deliberately create a wheat that is short stemmed (easier to harvest and more resistant to rain I’ve been told), grows quickly and is pest resistant that can’t be so easily digested strikes me as insane, but I believe that’s what modern farming has done in pursuit of profit.

        I’ve put olive oil (instead of butter) in some breads I’ve made and it seem to make it a bit lighter and maybe smoother, but that could be wishful thinking on my part 🙂

        • The gluten in Spelt is quite weak (so care needs to be taken not to overwork, or over-prove, the dough). A little Xanthan gum added to the mix might help, say 1 teaspoon to 500g of flour.

          I also find it’s worthwhile making a starter – gives the yeast a flying start – with 300ml lukewarm water and a tablespoon of flour (both taken from the total), whisked with a scant teaspoon of malt extract and a teaspoon of yeast (plus half a teaspoon in the dry ingredients; I use Fermipan Red – best there is in my view). As soon as it has a thick creamy head on it, give it a good stir and add to the mix.

          A stand mixer (I have a Kenwood Premier Silver Chef), takes a lot of the effort out of mixing and kneading the dough.

  4. Ron,
    Lightweight snow boot style with ugg sheerling insole = very warm and easy to put on and take off with no bending down. My present boots came from Lidl and the insoles from Anna Davies. Socks are not needed at all. My feet stay warm on the scooter for a couple of hours. The laces are pretty much undone all the time, but can be slacked right down if feet are swollen. I wear them with shorts in the summer and they do not look too bad.
    Glad to see the improvement in your leg situation.
    Adrian.

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