14 Oct 19

This week has been dominated by a painful knee injury. It’s meant I haven’t been able to do anything very much. Sitting at my desk is a problem, standing up is a problem, walking is a problem. In fact, I am told by the chiropractor that I need to ice it for twenty minutes every couple of hours and take the weight off it, ideally propped up at above heart level. Grrr… I’ve limped on and been forced to be far more lazy than usual with my food.


Was very glad I’d shopped and organised everything for lunch today. We will be eight. On Friday I seasoned milk for bread sauce and stashed it in the fridge. I par-boiled potatoes yesterday for roasting and the kilo of Cumberland cocktail sausages just need their links snipped, to be oiled and lined up in a roasting tin. Carrots have been scraped and frozen petits pois defrosted for quick cooking with butter (as recommended by one of my regular Dinner Tonight followers in the Times). I bought two chickens and they are stuffed with lemon, garlic and rosemary, lined up in a deep roasting tin and doused with a bottle of white wine. We have ice cream for pudding and The Barrister bought a lovely big slab of Red Leicester cheese. The table is laid, everything is under way and then I send a text to my obliging chiropractor, hoping he can fit me in tomorrow morning. I get a thumbs up reply. The B nips out to get me pain killers and a knee sock thing, to help support it. Delicious lunch and lovely wine. Youngest son and nephew linger and we have lunch leftovers for supper. I do love to smear chicken through cold bread sauce with a cold, very crusty roast potato on the side. It’s a bit like Christmas.


Knee even more swollen today, hobbled round to see Nick who pronounced ligament injury, probably caused by a bash, which I distantly remember happening as we twirled and whirled to Charlie’s Angels. POURING with rain, so used leftover chicken to make a version of little grandson’s orzo and sausage ‘favourite sausage pasta soup’, as they call it. Did you use leftover chicken from yesterday, asked Caspar, the elder? Impressed. The B and I have what turns out to be a superb stew made with March House Farm single suckled beef braising steak, big field mushrooms and leftover red wine. With mashed potato and buttered cabbage with nutmeg, this is a real treat.


The Barrister leaves at sparrow’s fart to catch a flight to Trinidad for a few days on a Big Case. It’s still raining cats and dogs, so I cook up some minced lamb, adding onion and carrot, deciding to turn it into a couple of individual shepherd’s pies as I have leftover mashed potato in need of eating up. Popped them in the fridge, ready for when I need them. I have been wondering if I need to cancel going out tonight but decide I will splash out on an Uber and pick up son Henry en route for us to meet nephew Fred at Wiltons Music Hall in Shoreditch (www.wiltons.org.uk). We are booked in to see The Mystery of the Raddlesham Mumps, Murray Lachlan Young’s latest play. It’s short and hilarious and if you ever see it on anywhere, do go. Afterwards we repaired to the bar-cum-restaurant and shared a brilliant pizza; a huge, thin, crisp sourdough base liberally spread with nduja, whole burrata and rocket (a snip at £16; others from £10 and deals available on Tues and Wed nights). If only it was less of a treck, I’d go here for the pizza alone but do check out their programme. It is such a fabulous place. Despite having leg propped up all through the show, it’s aching like billy-o, so Uber again.


Felt so sorry for myself, had to cancel lunch with a friend at the Chelsea Arts Club due to annoying Knee. Treated myself to a lunch of shepherd’s pie with tomato ketchup and Tabasco. It was very good indeed; the top very crusty, the potato richly potato flavour, giving onto gently flavoured minced lamb with onion and carrot. More icing and resting the knee, then decided on another comforting meal of and two poached eggs over very crisp baked potatoes (diamond jackets) with grated Cheddar for supper. Feeling very sorry for myself with painful knee, life curtailed because I am supposed to lie about with it resting on cushions so it rests above my heart. Hard.


For ages I’ve been looking forward to the Observer Food Magazine Food Awards in Covent Garden at the imposing Masonic Hall. By mid-morning I had to admit I can’t possibly go; every small journey is a mission at the moment and I can’t bear the thought of standing around, even wearing my knee corset. So, I cancel and make a quick, utterly delicious leek, bacon and butter bean soup for lunch (see recipes for the story of how it became renamed Dad’s Soup). Another lazy afternoon when I can’t concentrate on anything as I can’t seem to absolve the nagging knee pain. Popped the second shepherd’s pie in the oven for supper and enjoyed it in front of a roaring log fire, wishing I was watching Claudia Roden win a Lifetime Achievement Award from the OFM.


It’s ironic that I wake up feeling refreshed for the first time all week when it was yesterday that I really wanted to be buzzing around as usual. The leg is still swollen but is feeling much better, good enough to schlep into Richmond to meet a friend to watch a lunchtime showing of Peanut Butter Falcon, which I highly recommend. On the way back, bought some Hedone brown bread and ham, so I could make a big, fat sandwich when I got home. Wolfed it down as I skipped through the latest New Yorker which was on the door-mat when I got home.


Needless to say, I’ve overdone it with my knee but although I can’t trust surviving the anti-Brexit March today, I decide I can just about make it to see Bait (highly recommended) at the BFI on South Bank this afternoon. This was probably a mistake but I was able to lodge my leg on the seat in front of me without disturbing anyone and then again, able to lodge it on a chair at their restaurant where one of the Blondes (see previous dispatches) and I devour a few glasses of white wine and a platter of cured meats with some nicely fresh and crusty focaccia. Back home I was still hungry (and thirsty), so toast and cheese and a couple of glasses of red are the order of the evening.