Warning signs and other ramblings, with added food…

Extremely dismayed, in bed last night, to see that my right leg (I have bilateral lymphoedema, for new readers), was once again swollen. Being on my feet much of the day, and up a step-ladder at one point, probably the reasons.

It’s gone down again this morning but clearly a warning sign that I need to take much more care of myself. Trouble is, there are many things I have to do myself because there is no-one else to do them for me like, yesterday, stocking my shiny new fridge freezer, and (the ladder thing), repairing the reflective film on my window (my flat faces due south, that wall is almost all glass, and the sun can push up the temperature into the high 30s without the film – and yes, I do get tired of explaining to the witless that I’m not hiding from aliens, or CIA death rays!).

And, in the next couple of days, there are things I have to do that I wouldn’t let anyone else do. For example, I have to devise a new veggie recipe for this blog (and persuade a veggie friend to test it – it’ll be good,** but will a veggie like it as much as I do?), along with making bread. And cake.

**I know it should  work as it’s a veggie version of a meat-based recipe, but whereas I have ample ingredients to call upon when making a stock in which to cook the meat version, most are out of the question for the veggie one. This was a problem during my 20-odd-year veggie phase, and I’ve still not entirely resolved it, though a certain sameness of flavour can be countered with herbs and/or spices. Sod it – don’t know why I’m worrying, it usually works out just fine. I’ll do what I always do – wing it!

In addition, seasonality deprives me of a favourite vegetable. I like greens in a casserole, partly for colour, partly for texture, and partly for flavour. Pak choi is good, when grown outdoors and in Britain, when it’s firm and crisp, and retains its texture when cooked. In winter, I suspect it’s grown hydroponically, probably in the Netherlands or Africa (it’s incredibly clean but, when, grown outdoors in summer, it normally collects dirt the same way leeks and celery do). However it’s grown, the winter version has little flavour and disintegrates when cooked, the fleshy white base vanishing, just leaving an unpleasant, leathery, skin behind.

A change of tack, and as many of you will know, I’ve had ME since the mid 80s. Treatment, as I’m sure I don’t need to tell sufferers, is problematic but I long ago came up with a bunch of supplements that, while not by any measure a cure, do, at least, keep me on my feet when I might otherwise be a basket case. See this post for full details (updated today).

Note for DWP snoops:  By “on my feet” I mean more able to cope with the exigencies of my diuretics, which necessitate a pee every 15-20 minutes for around 6 hours every day, not walking the fucking Pennine Way. Are we clear on that?

However, the events of the past couple of years have rather pushed ME into the background, and meant that my supplements have been largely ignored. The high price I paid for that is becoming clear now that I’m taking them again, even though it adds 18 tabs and caps to the 63 I already take daily as proper meds (I also consider my supps to be meds, too, just not in drug form).

Back to food, and an email from Sainsbury’s proudly boasts “Whole chickens are now only £5” (£2.50 a kg). Another, online, offer has somewhat smaller birds at £4.50 each (£3.33/kg),** or 3 for £10. Knackered old battery birds, all of them, I shouldn’t wonder, considering an organic bird is £6.39/kg , but if you want a free-range bird you have to click through to the details for every likely-looking  bird (based on price), to find out which, if any, are free range – come on Sainsbury’s, put the info upfront!

**And if you’re looking for logic in the price per kilo, you won’t find it! Why a smaller bird, with less meat on it, should cost more per kilo than a larger bird I can’t begin to imagine. Well, I can, but it’s pretty bloody cynical – it’s to encourage the sale of 3 for a tenner to get rid of the scrawny buggers! Yep, I have spotted that at 3 for a tenner it’s the same as the price per kilo.

And finally, I’m looking with increasing alarm at my Sainsbury’s order for tomorrow, as it edges ever closer to £60, not counting their extortionate £5.99 delivery charge. Trouble is, while I usually shop at Tesco, Sainsbury’s have stuff I want but can’t get elsewhere, like the excellent Sweet Spear carrots and the equally good, full-fat (6%), cottage cheese from Longley Farm. OK, I can get the latter from Asda, but not the carrots and quite a bit of other stuff too.

I know Tesco do a 6% cottage cheese, but it’s disgusting – the curds appear to have been extruded, not cut as they should be, and have a rubbish texture

10 thoughts on “Warning signs and other ramblings, with added food…

  1. On your feet for most of the day and up a ladder?
    No, just no. The urgency of tasks and chores is compelling. But you must look after the legs you have worked so hard on or they aren’t going to be there!

    I like leafy greens in summer casseroles (and winter ones) but I wish I could find a way of freezing said items without the greens ending up smelling really sulphurous after a month in the freezer. I’ve taken to adding them when I heat up the stew/casserole after it’s defrosted.

    Please take care of those leggies Ron!

    Lucy the nagbag 🙂

    • Well, things need doing, and there’s no-one else. The bedroom’s a tip, way too many books, and housework a very low priority except for vacuuming. The kitchen is the only priority – I’m not really into food poisoning.

      I’ve frozen Brussels sprouts in stews for a couple of months with no problem. But don’t forget, stuff frozen at home keeps nowhere near as long as flash-frozen commercial stuff. I aim for 3 months max at minus 22C, and 6 weeks is even better. At -18, the UK norm, I’d treat 6 weeks as the max. If it’ll go, it might be worth turning your fridge freezer down. My new one has presets, so 2C for the fridge gives me an average of about 3.5C, and -22 for the freezer is more like -23, so swings and roundabouts, but it works out. I also have an old FF in the bedroom, running at far less extreme temps, for storing bulk flour. And booze. At the moment I can’t drink but, one day maybe . . .

      I invested in a pair of commercial FF thermometers (sensors inside, gizmos attached to the outside with magnets). Very useful for keeping an eye on what’s going on inside.


  2. I’ve tried turning the FF down, but I think that age is taking its toll, because the temp’ tends to rise a bit too much and stays up despite twiddling it down over several days. I think that the little wires in the control and connections box where the temp’ dial is, must be getting a bit brittle by now. A bit like me really

    I have not frozen Brussels before, I may give them a go whilst there are still good ones in the greengrocer.


    • I tend to buy smallish sprouts for this, and quarter or halve them, depending on size, vertically, through the stalk, which stops them falling apart. I haven’t found that they make the whole dish taste and smell of sprout – they just provide nuggets of green veg, which I rather like. On one occasion I tossed in tiny, frozen, button sprouts. They worked well, too.

      The thing is, with sprouts and other brassicas, if you over-boil them they can get sulphurous. However, in a casserole, cooked gently rather than boiled, that doesn’t happen. That or they pass through that phase and out the other side, unnoticed. I generally put them in for the last half hour.

      I’m working up a vegetarian sausage and cannellini bean casserole at the moment (Quorn Cumberland sos). I normally make it with Toulouse sausages for myself and would stick a veggie alternative at the end of the recipe when I post it, so I thought it would be a change to make it from scratch and write it up first. I was a veggie for over 20 years but got bored – I still like veggie food occasionally, though.


  3. Funny that, I was veggie for a similar span, almost vegan at points but found that so bleak it was unbearable. In the early 80s, there wasn’t as much freely available knowledge as there wasn’t an internet as we know it now.

    I think I have a bit of an oversensitive nose for the sulphur element. Which is a pain because I love all the cruciform veg. I’ve steamed all veg as far back as I can recall (apart from stews/casseroles) but sometimes, just sometimes, there’s a whiff of sulphur and that puts me right off. I jokingly call this “Cabbage Gag”

    I wondered if a bit of any kind of brassica might be slightly on the turn but visibly fine to the human eye and it’s only any form of heat that brings out the odour. If I get a whiff of this, then I just can’t eat it and it will put me off eating it for a while. It could of course just be subconscious memories of dinner ladies shouting at us to eat up our boiled to within an inch of being primordial soup, school cabbage. I remember them shouting, but not at me!

    I have a whole stick of sprouts awaiting action, got them this morning from a farm shop. They are quite sweet too. So no excuse for not experimenting.

    Thanks for the info Ron!

    • I’m currently using sprouts that are months past their BBE date, but still firm and crisp. They taste fine, with no sulphurous smell.

      American-style fridges seem to keep veggies in good condition for an absurd length of time, as long as they’re bagged and tightly sealed. The only failure I’ve had was baby parsnips, and celeriac is a bit touchy, too, but that gets used quickly.

      The previous manager here used to cook Christmas lunch for the old farts (old fart is a state of mind!), and the first thing she’d cook was the sprouts, which would then be kept warm for about 5 hours!

      I’ve got a new recipe coming up – a casserole of Organic Lamb with Black Olives, Deglet Nour Dates, Redcurrant Jelly, and Harissa.

      Watch this space.

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