Sunday, 29 November 2015

Hi Did you miss me? Spinal surgery, flat pie and rice pudding!

      Well it's been a long time, various reasons for that.

                 Mostly health and I am sorry for not being here to keep you up to date.

          Most recent was spinal surgery in June 2015, on the lumbar 2/3 joint, a decompression with a bone graft to hold it apart. The joint had collapsed completely and was causing agony as it pressed down heavily on a nerve. Most strange was the pain felt as if it was largely in my legs because that is where that nerve carried messages from. It felt like a constant electric shock which got worse if I moved at all.
                      Please excuse these pictures if they are not to your taste
                                         (food pictures lower down the page)

 Of course because I live in a first floor apartment (second floor in the US) and wouldn't part with Tich, life became an agonising ordeal, 5 times a day taking her over the road to the park. This was from winter solstice 2014 run up until the surgery in June.


 I unfortunately did not record the surgery or my hospital stay and these are the only photos I have. These were taken when I went for the staples out, some 6 weeks later.

      Taken on my new phone, a Moto E which I have very recently upgraded to Android 5.1, a considerable improvement on earlier OS Many thanks to my daughters who gave it to me as a Christmas prezzie last year. The old nokia had been knacked for ages and I was reduced to a very old school nokia that was only any good for phone and text. Many thanks to them also for the help they have given me this year, when I have been broken and in pain, at my most helpless and vulnerable. 
                    They each know what they have done for me.

                     Surgery was in Ipswich hospital, Suffolk and my surgeon Mr Lovell did an excellent job. I cannot thank him enough.
     Also the anesthetist, the nurses and all the medical staff that looked after me so well during my stay and since.

            Unfortunately because of my previous cardiac problems I was high risk and he would only keep me under long enough to deal with the one joint. It was faraway the worst but unfortunately not the only problem joint. 

   I have had spinal problems for years and these were all exacerbated at the same time as I overdid things in the run up to the holiday season last year.
         This year I am taking it very easy, not only because I am still in a lot of pain and on very heavy painkillers, as well as using sticks to get about. I can feel that at least a couple more joints are only one foolish movement away from collapsing completely like the 2/3 did.

       I definitely am not risking that again

        Food wise I can't really remember what I have been making. I did get an ice cream maker earlier in the year and got the hang enough to make some cracking ice cream before the pain got too bad.
     Lemon and ginger was my favourite.
                   Unfortunately I don't remember if I took photos or wrote the recipe down, pain and painkillers will do that to your memory.

I have got myself down to a bit of a food routine now, to minimise the difficulty of cooking and associated pain. At the moment I am living on flat pie for dinner with a rice pudding for afters.
                         Flat Pie

This is flat pie, my veggie version of 
cottage pie for people who live in flats. Minimum preparation because the veg are all frozen or tinned. I took these photos today, although I cooked the pie yesterday, so it isn't looking it's best.  

 Simple recipe, whatever you have available varying around pulses and veg. This has red kidney beans, chickpeas, washed dry green lentils, carrots, green beans, peas, diced onion. All into the dish, mixed up and leveled out. 

     In a measuring jug, to 2 tins of chopped tomatoes add 1 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp turmeric, good shake of chili flakes (vary to your taste) mix well. Pour across the top of the veg and spread out level with the back of a fork.

       For the top, rinse 2 large tins of potatoes and put in large jug, add some milk then with a hand blender turn into creamed potato. Stir in some grated cheese             
         Spread out flat across the top of the pie and sprinkle liberally with more grated cheese before putting in the oven. About 40 minutes on a low shelf at 200C, keeping an eye on it. I put it in underneath the rice pudding and cook both together.

           For this pie I tried 2 top layers, one using 1 tin of potatoes, the other with some shop bought pre-prepared carrot and swede mash. Turned out nicely.

             Makes 6 good portions although I haven't yet divided it into storage tubs and put into the fridge freezer. Reheat thoroughly before eating. I find it goes well served up with baked beans.

           Coconut Rice Pudding. 

I prepare this and serve up with the dish on the oven shelf to avoid having to lift heavy weights

  300g arborio  risotto rice, 70g sugar, good shake of nutmeg to taste. 1.5 litres of semi-skimmed milk, 0.5 litres of coconut cream/milk I am using solid block creamed coconut which is mixed up with boiling water

Put all the ingredients in the dish and mix thoroughly. Put the lid on and put in the oven on an upper mid shelf at 200C for about 30 minutes or until the milk is starting to simmer. Take the lid off, stir thoroughly again and shake more nutmeg across the top to taste. Cook for another 40 minutes. Serve hot and still milky, with fruit if you like it.

    Replace top of dish and return to the cooling oven. You will find it like this when it is cold which gives you a variety of serving options. Add milk and mix the serve hot and cold, reheat with the portion of pie and reserve for desert (saves power) or just cut a slice and eat like cake.  
   A few test runs will get it just the way you like it.

        This also makes 6 good portions which should be divided and stored in the fridge or freezer, although you can see that my first portion of rice pudding was considerably larger than my first portion of flat pie. It is very moreish. I find the risotto rice makes a creamier pudding than plain pudding rice. They are both round, short grained rice and the recipe works just as well with pudding rice but timings may need to vary

     Well there you have it. 2 simple recipes that will feed you for most of the week. They both cook at the same temperature and can be cooked together. I get the rice pudding in for the first cooking stage then prep the flat pie. Move onto stage 2 cooking and slide the flat pie in beneath it. When the pie is ready, the pudding can be taken out at the same time, and kept out while the oven cools if you like. It all depends how thick you like it.