Sunday, 23 January 2011

Moving too fast

Photos above are anything and everything food related from my phone, as the camera is at my Mum's - a peril of being without permanent abode I'm afraid!

Once again I find myself compelled to start with an apology for a gap in writing. It's not that I've not been cooking, far from it - but circumstances seem to conspire against me being settled, and able to cook, write and post on a regular basis.

To explain further, shortly after mine and Jess' enchilada extravaganza, my ex-flatmate decided that she wanted to live by herself. Which is fine. But put me under pressure to find somewhere new to live in my local area at a time when there was (and is) just little movement in the rental market. Obviously as regular readers are aware, I need to balance my needs as a disabled woman with ensuring continuity for my Guides and Brownies, and of course I work in the Public Sector at a time when there is less job security than ever. Not a good combination with trying to find somewhere new to live, continuing to be productive in my job, and volunteering. So life has not been easy, I have been travelling the length and breadth of London on a regular basis, carrying my life on my back (I know! Bad plan for starters) with most of my possessions in that vague, uncertain place known as 'storage'. My favourite roasters, utensils, plates and cups, all packed away in copies of the Metro and taken away in a lorry.

Anyway, I haven't been as unfortunate as that suggests, I have a lovely boyfriend, who puts up with my need to completely take over his kitchen on a regular basis, and who in actual fact reminded me this morning that I needed to write something for here. My mum has turned a blind eye (and surprisingly, eaten) much of what I've turned out in her (far nicer than anything I'm used to) kitchen, including encouraging me to make the trifle for the Christmas dinner - more on this later too. Hopefully.

So, with support and help I'm getting along. As with many people with a long term condition my health has been seriously affected by the uncertainty and change I've been coping with. Regular seizures, a horrible bout of flu, and sinusitis have kept me indoors and largely aleep since November. Whilst I live in eternal hope of healthy stability, I'm also developing some patience (anyone who follows me on twitter and who is party to my frequent rages/ grumps/ whining about my health can roll their eyes here) with my health and trying to expect less of myself, and judge myself less harshly. Interestingly, with support I'm learning to rest more, to let other people pick up things and not try to do everything myself. It's hard to admit that as a young woman you need support but I'm getting there. It's interesting the lack of support that is available from the Public and Voluntary sectors in these economic times, and the expectation from Adult Social Care that friends and family will act as unpaid, unsupported carers just because one's needs are 'moderate. Although how 'moderate' and homeless sit together I will never understand!

Anyway, before I get up on my soapbox - naturally an adapted one ;-) - I'll tell you a little bit about my foodie exploits these past months. If that's OK?

Well we've had 2 pack holidays with the Brownies, and have done lots of cooking - the usual baking, but also from scratch meals as well. The girls universally enjoyed cooking 'normal' meals as well as fairy cakes, caramel shortbread, and 'armpit' fudge. I'm without camera at the moment but will endeavour to add that post later this week.

I've been involved with Sainsburys a little as a part of the launch of their Christmas freefrom range - I was invited to Christmas dinner with some lovely other bloggers and had the pleasure of sampling some lovely gluten and dairy free recipes and products. As well as the Taste the Difference wines and traditional lemonade. Both of which were gorgeous. The evening itself (and the tiramisu I made with the Gluten Free Mrs D were lots of fun, and one of my aims for 2011 is definitely to get involved more in the blogger community.

Sainsburys also sent me some of their Taste the Difference mincemeat to test early in December and I duly made mince pies for my boyfriend's father's birthday. I have to say these went down a treat, and I used up some pastry cases I had lying around after catering my sister's hen do as well as making my own pastry (top tip for pastry for mince pies - use orange juice instead of water to bind). Which does mean my dear readers that I have finally beaten my pastry demons. I am so proud!

Just before Christmas Kavey of Kavey Eats asked on twitter for our Christmas loves and hates, I very honestly admitted that my mother's 70's tastic trifle was a big hate for me, but that I didn't know how to broach that with her. Now I'm pretty sure that my mum doesn't read this (or twitter) but oddly enough she asked me to make the trifle this year, and I was allowed to deter from the typical tinned fruit in jelly, set custard with dream topping affair and make a spiced fruit trifle that wasn't dissimilar to my summer fruit fools last year.

What else is there? Mabel has been sorely neglected of late, so I'm going to give her a good feed tomorrow night, and with any luck (cross your fingers for me that she hasn't expired) and hopefully introduce my boyfriend to the world of leavened bread next weekend.

My skills with leftovers continue - this Christmas my turkey and ham pie spawned a recreation with chicken and leeks that has become a firm favourite in the repertoire. Oh and the addition of a slow cooker to the boyfriend's kitchen equipment has meant that I am casseroling with aplomb and an alarming frequency.

So that's where I am and what I've been up to of late, I hope it doesn't make for too dull reading. I'm hoping that 2011 has some stability in store for me, not least as I have a kind of plan in my head that would allow me to extend my cooking adventures out to a wider audience , but I'm not sure how one goes about making a job/ business out of what we love. Advice, mentoring and guidance is gladly received at this stage as my capacity for thought in a head that's full of flatshares, what's in my rucksack, and planning a Guide holiday that I've faithfully promised them yet utterly failed to organise!

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