Category Archives: Further education

ON BEING A GOURMET COOK – OR NOT

When Josh and I got married in 1956, I had two dishes in my repertoire – a simple omelette and minestrone soup. My mother was a plain cook, with a very limited range of dishes – cold fried fish on Friday night, cholent on Saturday and braised or roast beef or boiled chicken on other days. Our main meal was at lunchtime – our dinner –-always a rushed meal, because my father and older sisters had only half an hour for lunch and I had to get back to school. For supper we had egg on toast or sardines on toast so I should add those to my range of expertise and of course from my student days baked beans on toast. Josh on the other hand came from a family of good cooks – his paternal grandfather had been a baker in Poland – and so Josh was a much better cook than I.

I gradually extended my range with the help of recipes in newspapers and magazines but then, when I finished my second post as a house physician and was five months pregnant with Simon, I decided to take a 6 week full time Good Housekeeping Cookery Course held in basement kitchens in Mayfair. It was an excellent course ranging from the simplest dishes – how to boil an egg or mash a potato – to Black Forest Gateaux and a range. of various loaves of bread.

When you have four children, and two of them are ravenous boys, you go more for quantity than variety. I got used to serving a three course meal and then having the boys ask for a ‘sarnie’ – or two. They were still ‘starving’.

After I retired in 1991, I took a wide range of courses at Further Education Colleges including cooking. The very best was Joyce’s course (sadly she’s no longer with us) at Morley College. It was a ‘Cook and Eat’ course. You paid a modest sum for the ingredients that Joyce lugged in each week, and then you paired off to cook a three course meal. I think I took the course three times – Joyce had a huge variety of tried and tested recipes.

I only remember one absolute disaster.

We had one student who was always ahead of herself. Her task was to whip the cream for our Blackberry and Apple crumble and she’d got the cream prepared long before we were ready to sit down for our meal. I had to rush off for my Spanish lesson at the Mary Ward Centre in Queens Square and so was the first to be served with my desert.

I took a spoonful and spat it out. I was sure it was poisoned. The salt and sugar – both white granules – were kept in glass jars and she hadn’t bothered to check the labels. She’d used salt instead of sugar and in that concentration the salted cream tasted vile. Probably a very primitive response to ingredients that – certainly in that quantity – are bad tor us.

I thank all those lovely people who wrote and commented on my memoir ‘Woman in White Coat’

‘Woman in White Coat – the memoir of girl growing up the East End making good.

Woman in a White Coat paperback

Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

 

 

Recipe for my favourite fruit cake

Note how the fruit has remained evenly distributed

Grease and line the bottom of a large loaf tin Continue reading ON BEING A GOURMET COOK – OR NOT

250th Summer Exhibition Royal Academy, London. Reading #3 My Art Class from ‘Woman in a White Coat’

What a brilliant idea!!

What a brilliant idea – having Grayson Perry curate this important 250th Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy.

 

Royal Valkyrie by Joana Vasconcelos

 

 

The brilliant mixed media sculpture by Joana Vasconcelos greets you as you enter. And I loved the Architecture Room.

 

The Architecture Room

 

Often I’ve felt overwhelmed at the Summer Exhibitions by the crowds and the works massed together higgledy-piggledy, but this year the exhibition is themed and great. It’s absolutely a ‘MUST GO’.

This fabulous exhibition  made me feel I ought to get out my paints and pastels and start painting and drawing again. After I retired in 1991 I went to a wide variety of classes including drawing and painting.

Hear about the Art Class at the Mary Ward Centre in Queen Square I attended after I retired in 1991 in this excerpt from my memoir Woman in a White Coat’  – Chapter 26 pp 355-356 and pp 361-363

Woman in a White Coat’  is available on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

Chapter 26 Woman in a White Coat

I enrolled for lots of classes, some at one Further Education college and some at another – painting, drawing, cooking, history of art, Spanish, creative writing, pottery, dressmaking, machine knitting, felt making – everything I hadn’t had time for when I was working. It wasn’t just that I hadn’t had the time, I hadn’t had the inclination. My mind was always so full of work. Even when I was at the theatre, I would find myself thinking about a difficult diagnosis or a hiccup in our research.

Continue reading 250th Summer Exhibition Royal Academy, London. Reading #3 My Art Class from ‘Woman in a White Coat’

YET ANOTHER COOK BOOK – SAINSBURY’S THIS TIME

Sainsbury's Cookbook Volume 1
Sainsbury’s Cookbook Volume 1

Like all my friends who cook regularly and don’t buy takeaways, I already have too many cookbooks but the two published by Sainsbury’s were irresistible.

At the end of a big shop at their Kensington branch, Josh bought Volume 1 and I’ve already cooked three of the recipes, including these delicious Chicken Rolls. This week I went back to buy Volume 2.  For some reason they are not on the Sainsbury’s website and when I phoned the branch they said they hadn’t any – but they did and I bought one!!

Delicious little chicken rolls
Delicious little chicken rolls

Before cooking them, I cut some of the chicken-filled puff pastry rolls into 7cm lengths to have with gravy, Boulangiere potatoes (from the cookbook) and flat beans. The rest I cut into these little 4cm lengths to have as snacks instead of sausage rolls.

When we got married in 1956 I could just about cook omelettes and minestrone so when I finished my second house job as a newly qualified doctor I went to a six-week all day Good Housekeeping cookery course.

Memoir extract from Woman in a White Coat Vol 2 Chapter 4

When I finished my second house job,   I was five months pregnant with Simon and already showing, so I was unlikely to find a part-time temporary job in medicine. I was doubly qualified, having qualified as a dental surgeon 6 years before, but I couldn’t face the thought of standing all day in a dental practice, though it would have been quite easy to find a locum dental appointment. . Continue reading YET ANOTHER COOK BOOK – SAINSBURY’S THIS TIME

THE FILM OF THE BOOK

One of The Times giveaway books
One of The Times giveaway books

I’d always wanted to attend one of Patricia Sweeney’s Film of the Book courses at the CityLit but thought they were held in the evening, when I hate going to classes. It dates from when Joshua and I were both working. I left while he was still in bed and we only really saw each other in the evening.

This term I saw that the course was during the day and enrolled before it was over-subscribed – as Patricia’s classes always are!! The films we are studying are Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Bonjour Tristesse and The Postman Always Rings Twice.

Patricia is always an inspiring tutor and the first sessions on Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde promise an interesting look at the relationship between the two media  – a book being a solo performance while the film is multidisciplinary.

Free tours at London’s Museums – the V&A

Decoration at the entrance for Diwali and Christmas
Decoration at the entrance for Diwali and Christmas

Trying to decide on which further education classes to enrol on for the New Year I saw that there were several courses of gallery visits at major London Museums and Galleries.  Now funding has been cut for Further Education these courses are now expensive so I decided to investigate the free tours, starting with the V&A. the purchase of the land for which was funded by the Great Exhibition of 1851.

Victoria and Albert at the Great Exhibition of 1853
Victoria and Albert at the Great Exhibition of 1853

Once again the tour guide took as to rooms I had either not visited or just passed though. I had no idea there was such a vast collection of ceramics or that the galleries showed their development over the ages with so many excellent examples.

PowerPoint – my new toy

Well - it was only the second week!!
Well – it was only the second week!!

When I gave presentations about my work on cancer diagnosis I used acetate slides. First I had to persuade a more-or-less unwilling secretary to type up my acetate slides, get audio-visual to make them up and then, as a junior trainee pathologist, rehearse in front of my irascible Head of Department. As a consultant pathologist, I no longer had to rehearse in front of my boss though I got my youngest child, Jane, to work my slide projector when I rehearsed the timing. She gave  a wonderful gobbled-gook impersonation of me – ‘Next slide please’ and all.

Now it’s so easy with PowerPoint with yet another very good tutor at the Mary Ward Centre.  taking the course was stimulated by being asked by my local library to give a presentation on writing my memoir Woman in a White Coat. I’ve been warned by my expert son, Simon, not to incorporate music or animation though they are next week’s topics.

Can’t believe I made it – 84th Birthday today

My opening Google page with a message wishing me Happy Birthday
My Google page today with a fly-out message wishing me Happy Birthday – little bit creepy though! Thought police??

Yesterday I drove extra carefully to my classes on Native American History  at the CityLit and PowerPoint  at the Mary Ward Centre. Didn’t want to have a fatal accident before I got to the magic 84.
Started  today with lots of gorgeous presents from Joshua and the children and then went to Boots for an NHS ‘flu jab – talk about the sublime and the ridiculous!!
Hard to believe I’m so very much nearer 100 than 1!!

Photography at the Mary Ward Centre

CIGARETTES CAN KILL
CIGARETTES CAN KILL

Taking what promises to be an excellent photography course at the Mary Ward Centre.
After I lost my simpler digital camera I got talked into buying a Nikon 340 which has a fantastic lens and a huge number of possible settings. I joined the course to discover how to use them.

Using the MACRO setting
A late blooming white rose

During the first lesson we went out into Queen Square and took a number of shots using the macro setting, focussing on a near object and then swivelling to take in the distance which would then be blurred.  Great technique.

It’s that time again

The new CityLit building in Keeley Street
The new CityLit building in Keeley Street

Middle of August – time for last minute booking at one of the Further Education Colleges. When I first retired, I was taking eight classes a week – though one was a ‘cook and eat’ course. Next term I’ve only enrolled for three – Literature at the CityLit and at the Mary Ward Centre in Queen Square I’ve enrolled for  Photoshop and Photography – the latter two to help me with this blog. I’m still of course taking private piano lesson with my rather dishy tutor.

I’m not very good at painting or drawing but had a great time taking art classes at the CityLit when the art classes were on the top floor of the old Victorian School on the site where the new building now stands.   Not only were there lots of stairs but being built for children the steps were lower than normal and climbing felt really odd – even before I broke my hip.

Further education

My favourite trouser pattern
My favourite trouser pattern

it’s that time of year – when the Further Education colleges publish their prospectuses for the coming year. Of course the fees have gone up again, while there are always threats to reduce government funding. The powers-that-be don’t seem to realise how much the NHS saves in anti-depressants and other medication by getting retired people out of the house.

I had an excellent dressmaking tutor – very strict and fussy. Everything had to be sewn carefully and finished well. I must have made at least half a dozen pairs of trousers from that pattern. The trouble with clothes you make yourself out of good quality fabric is that they won’t wear out and you’ve no excuse to visit GAP to buy new.

From my memoir Woman in a White Coat

After I retired  I signed up for lots of classes, some at one Further Education college and some at another – painting, drawing, cooking, history of art, Spanish, creative writing, pottery, dressmaking – everything I hadn’t had time for when I was working. It wasn’t just that I hadn’t had the time, I hadn’t had the desire. My mind was always so full of work. Even when I was at the theatre, I would find myself thinking about a difficult diagnosis or a hiccup in our research.

I enjoyed the freedom of doing things that weren’t important, things that weren’t a matter of life and death.

‘It’s wonderful,’ I said to my art teacher. ‘Nothing I do now is critical. If my drawing of the model looks like a human being, great. If not, at least I produced something. If my new cookery dishes taste good or if I can’t eat them and have to throw them out, if I manage to remember whether Rubens came first or Constable, it just doesn’t matter. You can’t imagine the relief and feeling of freedom. My life is no longer constantly punctuated by drama, by death, by irrevocable mistakes – where every word I put in a report is crucial. It would have been devastating if what I said in my report was misinterpreted by the surgeons and the wrong treatment given.