Tag Archives: cooking

Hurdy Gurdy, Bork Bork Bork …

hurdy gurdyI am teaching The Teenager how to cook.

He’s quite possibly flying the nest next year and bit by bit, I’m teaching him valuable life skills, such as:

  • If you hang your towel up after a shower rather than leaving it in a heap on the floor, it will dry!
  • If you lock the door after coming in late, we might not be burgled!
  • If you bring the tower of bowls and plates down from your bedroom, you’ll make your long-suffering mum very happy!

It’s taking a while and we still haven’t cracked the loo-roll dilemma (i.e. replace an empty one) or the milk carton angst (when it’s finished, it doesn’t go back in the fridge, d’uh).

But I live in eternal hope.

Today, he was deep in thought, sprawled out on the sofa, fingers flying across his iphone keypad as I was trying to type up some uni notes for my first dissertation meeting.

‘Mum. Muuum. Mum. How many calories in an egg?’ he asked.


‘Four eggs?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Three eggs?’

‘I. Don’t. Know. Why?’

‘Well, I went to the gym this morning – see, look, muscles (obligatory muscle flex), I’ve got 1367 calories left to eat. Minus the protein shake. Plus the jelly snake I ate on the way home from school.’

‘That’s nice dear.’



‘You busy?’

Noooooo, why?’

‘It says here on my app that I should cook scrambled eggs with four slices of brown bread, no butter. How do I make it?’

I talked him through it. Twice.

‘I hate cracking eggs.’

‘Most people do.’

‘Can you help? Pwwwweeeaaassse?’

I abandoned my not-going-anywhere proposal, sighed deeply for dramatic effect and joined him in the kitchen. A carton of eggs lay decimated on the counter. There were four left un-bashed.

I demonstrated what he had to do and he massacred the remaining ones into a bowl.

‘Now whisk.’

‘Am whisking.’

‘Put your bread in the toaster. Heat your frying pan up, put in a drop of oil and wait for it to get warm. There. Now!’

‘Use the spatula. Spatula! Not the ladle. No, and not that one, that’s a potato masher.’

‘Mum, spatula is a funny word, isn’t it?’

‘Erm, yes, I guess so.’

I showed him how to sweep the eggs gently around the pan, then handed control to him. The eggs were pummelled into submission, not daring to become anything else but scrambled eggs.

Finally, all was assembled. He splattered the resulting meal with tomato sauce, grabbed a drink and ate it all within two minutes.

‘Mum! Mum. That was ace (a surprising, new word in his vocabulary). And it only took two minutes! Result.’

And with that, he tapped his food stats into his app, put his empty plate in the kitchen and sauntered upstairs.

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Five Minutes With The Ice Cold Chef

Ice Cold ChefI’ve been chatting with The Ice Cold Chef, aka John Joyce, who is hoping to publish a cook book for carers. Find out more about this fabulous project here.

How did the idea of the cook book come about?

7 years ago my wife Bev was diagnosed with Secondary Progressive MS at the age of 45. At this time I didn’t cook as I worked away – Bev taught me the basics and the rest is history! The cook book will be for charity and is aimed at carers and their families, hopefully to encourage them to cook a meal from fresh ingredients rather than eating frozen or processed food. I hope the fact I have started from scratch in the kitchen will inspire them!

How have you adjusted to your wife being diagnosed with MS?

It was a shock to hear the news, and at the same time we both felt alone, alone in the fact that we didn’t know anything about the condition. I was 42 when all this started and we went through all the anger, frustration and upset but we weren’t going to give in and I started to help Bev in my usual positive way. In turn, Bev taught me to cook. In fact, we are a team then and we still are and I am extremely proud of us both.

What about family life?

We have one daughter who is 26 and married to another John, who is known affectionately to us as the Golden Child!

Are you a carer for your wife? If so, what does this involve?

I am the main carer for Bev and one carer comes in the morning to help us. I get up every morning at 6 am and prepare all my morning chores and make sure we are ready for the start of the day. Caring for Bev involves me using a hoist to transfer her and getting her in to the level access shower. Bev is then helped to get dressed and is transferred into the riser recliner chair in the front room. Bev has her breakfast and I give her the ipad – all our Christmas shopping has been done online, a massive help. I come home for lunch and then leave again for the office and normally I can be back home for just after 4.30pm.

Would you say that this cook book is your way of escaping the mental and emotional strain of being a carer?

For me, the Ice Cold Kitchen is my haven. I know when I leave the office, I can chill out by working my magic and creating meals and breads. Everything we eat in our home is cooked or baked from fresh and I have just baked our Christmas cake. I also know that when I am around, Bev is more relaxed and this makes me feel relaxed too. I tend to see my glass as half full and am always smiling – I’m known for it! I am a firm believer we can achieve anything in life. Putting a positive spin on any situation if possible always helps to keep us moving forward.

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Woo Hoo! (Possibly, Maybe)

I woke up yesterday morning and felt strange. I had a shower, made coffee, put the cat out and still felt strange. I had….energy. How bizarre. Where did that come from?

After a couple of weeks of feeling punch-drunk with tiredness, this was altogether frightening as well as exhilarating. How long will it last? How many things can I cram into this window of opportunity?

I have to calm down and think straight. I rummaged round in the kitchen drawer and pulled out my list of ‘Things To Do When I’m Not Tired’.

I scanned through it. None of them will happen. I’m definitely not climbing a ladder to get the leaves out of the guttering. With my balance? And I won’t be painting the bedroom doors – what if I get hit with fatigue half-way through? The doors could remain semi-painted for weeks, months. So my revised tick-list is a little less ambitious. Cook dinners from scratch, vacuum through whole house (not just the bits I can see), sort out accounts, shred that pile of old paperwork and get rid of the cobwebs that have been tormenting me from the sofa.

The thing with MS fatigue is, when the door of energy opens, you have no idea whatsoever how long it will be before it slams shut again. A day? A week? My mind was buzzing. So many things to choose from. I could watch a complicated, subtitled film and actually follow it, I could attempt to cook a mushroom Wellington, I could dust off my Nordic ski poles and go walking.

I spent most of the day doing almost nothing, paralysed with indecision yet marveling at actually having energy and a clear head. I read half a book, as I had the energy to concentrate and not drift off. I wrote more lists of things I have to do. I caught up with my emails. I know I should have done a whole lot more, but I was just enjoying the sensation of being fully awake. The fact that I could do things if I chose to was enough for me. Being able to think straight without my head being full of cotton wool gave me a chance to get my head in order.

I have a busy week ahead. I’m hoping to keep the energy going and tick some more things off my list. Give me a break, eh, MS?


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Doing The Big Shop

In a bid to get my routine back on track, I got up early yesterday to go for the Big Shop. I can’t seem to plan a week ahead though, so I normally just buy some  meat, vegetables, pasta and rice and cobble meals together on a day-to-day basis, always having to buy extra ingredients each day.

One of my first symptoms of MS was being unable to plan anything at all. My brain just would not compute basic things and I got confused easily. Food shopping was a nightmare. I would stand and stare at the rows of food, unable to decide what I needed and end up grabbing random things and chucking them in my trolley. I couldn’t even follow simple recipes so we lived off baked potatoes and microwave meals for a long while.

But, I was upbeat and optimistic. If I stuck to the basics, I couldn’t go wrong. I parked up, glared at the builder’s van taking up two disabled spaces and marched into the store. I wandered up and down the aisles, panic rising. So many special offers, so many meal deals. Three things for a tenner, five things for a tenner, buy one, get one half price. And Christmas carols playing in the background.

I could feel my brain melting. As I circled the aisles again and again, I couldn’t choose anything. Deep breath. Get some salmon. Get a big bag of potatoes, some carrots, few tins of tuna. Stand for ages in front of the ten pound meal deal. Two starters, two mains, one dessert. Mathematical equation. Is it me or is it hot in here?

Finally, I make it to the till where the checkout woman chucks my food through so fast, I get nervous, drop things, can’t pack the bags. Hands don’t want to hold anything today, but mission is finally accomplished. When I get home, I stagger into the house, laden with bags, rain pouring down and trip over the cat.

It’s bizarre how the most simple, taken-for-granted tasks can become an assault course when you have MS. I was planning to make cottage pie for dinner, but the recipe is confusing the hell out of me and I forgot the Worcestershire sauce…

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Pinterest Addict

How did I ever waste time in work before Pinterest? I can spend hours scrolling through other people’s adorable lives, cute kids, funny animals and interior decorating ideas. This is sheer fantasy football for women and I am addicted.

I even have my own account (I had to request an ‘invite to join’!), but am far too scared to start pinning – I wouldn’t know when to stop and I would probably end up wanting to live my Pinterest life rather than my real life. I’m sure I would find myself thinking, oh, I have the most incredible shoes that would go with that outfit, then realise they were in my pinterest wardrobe, not my real one.

Who are these pinners with their Boden-clad children, vast houses, oodles of spare time and a craft-box to die for? They make Scandinavian candle holders from birch wood logs, fashion keyrings from Champagne corks and create sensational art by gluing a few crayons onto canvas and blasting them with a hairdryer. They carve the most exquisite pumpkin designs, make home-made lollipops and still find time to post pictures of their grinning dogs and cute knitted cupcakes.

And now the Christmas pins are filtering through. It’s only a small trickle so far (too many pumpkins and ghouls jostling for space), but it’s sure to become a flood by November. How will I cope with pin-envy? How many glue sticks will I have to buy? Oh yes, I caved in and bought a glue-gun, the Pinterest weapon of choice. I just know I can decorate the whole house with only a stack of coloured card and some glue.

Two pinners have the right idea though – they pin the results of all the projects they have been inspired to try out from Pinterest and the results are very, ahem, reassuring…check out http://pinstrosity.blogspot.co.uk/ .

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