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| 20:05 UK time, Thursday, 28 June 2007

Three months into our new place and I have now added a working dishwasher to my various basic disability aids. The menu round here has improved.

Without a dishwasher, perching stool, grabby stick and so forth meals were noticeably, well, convenient.
Cooking can be a bit hit and miss when you aren't feeling up to it. But one fact remains a constant. No matter what state you are in, you still have to eat.

It's not so much a case of 'Can't Cook, Won't Cook' as 'Can't Cook, Have To Cook' for many people. So how to get round the great culinary conundrum that is making sure you eat well when you are not feeling well?

It is possible to eat good, nutritious food, even if you have to cook for yourself and others on a limited budget, quite frequently in pain, and not able to prepare more than one, simple course at a time. So I thought I would share here a few very quick and easy meals I have rustled up against the odds. And if you have any quick and easy meals to share, just pop them in the comments section and turn up to hi!.

Sunday for Monday Chicken...
Take one small chicken. Stick in oven (preferably heated, memory permitting). Cook for ooh, about a couple of hours. Go and lie down. Remove from oven before cremated. Cool. Refrigerate. Have something else for tea (this is one to do on a Sunday for a couple of easy start-of-the week meals)

Cold chicken leg on a bed of watercress salad or spinach and new potatoes and butter
A dollop of goat's cheese yoghurt is fab if you like it.

Chicken shredded and heated through with a fried onion and pepper and bunged together for a while with stock, bay leaf, a tin of tomatoes, served with rice or couscous

Noooo! Give rest to cat, or someone else's cat. Never go into day 3 with chicken. I did once out of desperation. It was an error.

Grilled Mackerel and Mash
If you can't face mashing potatoes, just boil some. If peeling them is too much, then don't. Put them on to boil, and go and lie down. When potatoes are nearly done, grill mackerel for five mins. Serve with a bit of salad. If you can be bothered.

Pasta and whatever
Boil pasta. Lie down. Get up before it boils dry and sticks to the pan. I find that creates hard work later. Add pesto. Eat.
Also try pasta and baked beans, with a splash of Worcestershire sauce or vinegar.
Pasta and cheese. If you are really feeling grot, you don't even need to grate the cheese. Just slice as thinly as you can muster. Add black pepper and a splash of olive oil for interest.

Sausage Thing
Always opt to ovencook sausages. Just put them in and walk away. Remember to come back though. Give them 20 mins or so. You can use vege sausages if vegetarian or unable to digest fatty meaty ones. Cut them up when cooked.
Bung in frying pan with onion, pepper, and a tin of tomatoes. Fry apathetically for a few mins. Add can of mixed beans (not for the windy). Cook a bit more with some added stock. Soak some couscous for a couple of mins in boiling water. Mix it all up and serve.

Toad in the Hole
Sausages as before. Batter is really easy. 300ml milk, slop in a couple of eggs. Whisk weakly, add flour and keep going (with rests) until it's just thicker than double cream. If you feel very rough, batter can be left to stand for 30 mins, giving you time to go and lie down.
Get sausages out, pour over batter (obviously, the sausages will be in a roasting tin, not on a grill...I did try this once. The batter didn't really go where I intended). Leave another 20 mins or so.
Serve with gravy and peas. Peas can be done in microwave.

Baked potato
Good emergency grub even if you don't have a microwave. Just stick one in at lunchtime for teatime. A multitude of fillings can be stirred from a dormant imagination with a bit of thought. Cottage cheese, cheese, mayo and celery, tuna mayo, baked beans, or just butter. All easy.

A Banana
For real emergencies. Like when you've no energy to cook. Eat a banana. Wait a few minutes. Proceed to kitchen. Always keep bananas near where you rest. In fact put them everywhere. You never know.

Discovering that porridge oats come out better when microwaved has been a revelation. Add 300 ml milk. Four minutes on high. Great with honey, your fave jam, little tiny globs of dark brown sugar, whatever takes your fancy. Gives a massive energy boost. I sometimes have it for lunch.

Frozen Veg or Fresh Spinach
Equally easy to cook, equally packed with good things.

You'll have noticed my love of my dishwasher and microwave. But a slow cooker is also a real bonus for the slow cook. Most recipes consist of chopping up whatever you want, bunging it in, putting it on low and leaving it alone for up to six hours! Now that really is convenience food.

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Regardless of impairment, cooking for one is a bum.

I tend to cook for about 4, and then freeze the other 3 portions in portion sized pots for a later date.

Again, impairment aside, I have chronic problems with my sinuses. Eating curry is one of the most effective ways of alleviating the pain.

Trouble is, when I'm in that much pain I can't face cooking or washing up, so when I'm well I'll make a great big wok full of curry (my wok makes about 7 portions) and then I freeze it in microwavable disposable containers so when my sinuses are bad, all I have to do for a curry is remove from freezer, nuke, eat with a plastic spoon from the container, throw the spoon and container in the bin.

I wish I had a dishwasher. Washing up is painful for me too. Being allergic to washing up liquid also doesn't help. Alas my kitchen is too small to accomodate one.

I love the fact that, because I wrote about "grabby sticks" on my blog, you now call them that as well.

I think their technical name is something really dull like, "long-handled reacher".

How boring.

Grabby stick is MUCH better.

I'm hoping to see it take its place in the OED any year now.

LisyBabe: Good one on bulk cooking. Left wok at old place, which was used for cookathons when I had a good day. I must sort that out, although the slow cooker does a mean curry.
Re dishwasher, no room here either. It's a countertop one, so no bending is a big bonus. Pricey but my absolute No1 essential for my circumstances and condition. Was wrecked without it.

LBE: Yes it just filtered into my vocabulary. Helping hand is what mine is s'posed to be called. But it isn't a hand.
It is a stick that grabs. A grabby stick, now and forevermore. But you were right to claim it back as your own. I've referred to it as such to all health and social care people of late, to much amusement. Grabby sticks rule. I cleaned the bath with mine yesterday. NO bending.

Oh, yes. Anything to avoid bending.

I freaked Pop out the other day when I told him that I was putting something which had sprung out of the waste paper basket back in using my toes.

Ok, so there's a limit to what I can pick up with my toes. But, if I can, I will.

Re dishwasher, no room here either. It's a countertop one, so no bending is a big bonus. Pricey but my absolute No1 essential for my circumstances and condition. Was wrecked without it.

Unfortunately I don't even have room for one of them. :-(

My kitchen is so small my fridge is in a cupboard in the lounge...

Lisybabe, I did find I could do washing up in stages if I soaked it all in bicarb of soda overnight. Bowl of hot water, couple of teaspoons, bung it all in there. It soaks away, you drain off in morning and somehow washing up wasn't quite so hard.
So I could do it, just not all at once.

LBE: Toes are just waiting to be used. I think they must feel rather left out at times. Mine are generally employed picking up my son's socks. And I find the more I use them the more adept I become. Bit like the way the texting thumb has become more dominant than the index finger. I confess I haven't tried cooking with my toes yet though...

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