Tag Archives: Cooking

TOURS IN THE TIME OF COVID (With a nod to Gabriel García Márquez)

The cut-out policeman looks so real I nearly wished it Good Morning!!

Before Covid, we’d been on bus tours in Spain and to Prague, Vienna and Budapest, and on River Tours on the Rhine and the Danube, but now our tours seem to be confined to Tours of London Supermarkets.

I was born and brought up in the East End of London, then a poor, mainly Jewish district. We lived in a cold-water tenement on the third floor of Wentworth Dwellings in what was known as Petticoat Lane, though Petticoat Lane hasn’t existed as such for nearly 300 years. After a boundary rearrangement it was renamed Middlesex Street. We first lived in a third floor flat opening onto Goulston Street and then in one overlooking Wentworth Street, both streets crowded with food stalls on weekdays.

My mother went shopping every day – there were no fridges in the 1930s. We tried to stop milk going sour, and butter melting, by storing them in a mesh-fronted cupboard on our tiny balcony. We were rarely successful. There always seemed to be a cheesecloth bag hanging from the kitchen tap with soured milk turning into cream cheese.

One of my chores was to buy our bread, usually from Kossoff’s bakery opposite. If the total added up to a few pennies and one farthing (¼ penny), the assistants would tell me to forget the odd farthing, rather than bother to give me three farthings in change. My mother wouldn’t accept charity from anyone, so, having climbed the six sets of steep stone stairs to our flat on the third floor, I would have to go down again and take the farthing to the shop.

Now, of course, we have fridges and freezers and in a district like ours, where individual food shops have virtually disappeared, we shop once a week in supermarkets, not daily – usually Tesco or Sainsburys and occasionally Waitrose.

My favourite white bread flour is Allison’s Very Strong White Bread Flour. I first found it in Tesco but the last time I was about to run out they no longer had any in stock. I ordered some online from Amazon Fresh (Morrisons) but the road works in Victoria blocked the lorry entrance to our flats. To my chagrin, the delivery driver gave up and took my shopping back to the warehouse.

I saw online that both ASDA and Morrisons stock that flour and decided to visit each of them for the first time. Both are designed to make everything look as if it is at a cheaper price – some definitely cheaper than in our usual supermarkets but sometimes just less in the packet, so not really any cheaper.

After our Tour in the Time of Covid, we’ll stick to Tesco and Sainsburys alternately – we like some versions of our favourite products in one and some in the other. We’ll make an occasional trip to Waitrose – the most spacious feeling of them, for things not available at our usual stores.

However, when I next run out, if Tesco and Sainsburys don’t have my favourite flour in stock, I’ll make up a delivery order from ASDA or Morrisons, rather negotiating the nightmare junction that is at Elephant and Castle, and traipsing up the Old Kent Road or Walworth Road.

Read more of Abby’s stories in her memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ and her previous posts Abby’s Tales of Then and Now. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site and get a taster for free. ‘Woman in a White Coat’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £9.99 in paperback. ‘Abby’s Tales of Then and Now’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the 7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour.
Woman in a White Coat

 

 

HAVING FAMILY TO DINNER AGAIN

Until Janice pointed it out, I hadn’t realised it was eighteen months since I last saw my daughter-in-law. She and Simon live near Bath, though Simon comes up to London for work four days a week and, once it was allowed, sometimes came to dinner. What with Lockdown and her job as a geriatrician, Janice and I just hadn’t met up.

It was lovely having them and our son Bernard to dinner. We had, of course, all carried out a Lateral Flow Covid test on ourselves before meeting up, just in case!!

Josh made one of his delicious signature salmon and asparagus frittatas, accompanied by a mixed salad, and I cooked a Waitrose recipe, plum cake. The cake was delicious, but I should have baked it in a larger springform tin. In the tin I chose, the dough rose so high it buried my pattern of plum slices on the top. The men had their dessert with crème fraiche, while Janice and I indulged in our favourite Puffer Cream.

Plum cake – Waitrose recipe

I enjoy cooking and baking. Not being able to have  friends and family to dinner is something I really missed during Lockdown. I’m sure it’s because I’m not sharing my cooking that I’ve put on the extra four kilos I am now struggling to lose. I shall just have to start counting calories again – the only way it works for me to slim.

Well, not quite the only way. When I was on a ventilator and fed by nasogastric tube after my heart attack, I lost 4 kilos in just 3 weeks. I wouldn’t want to go through that again and nor would my family. Simon told me that for ages he couldn’t bear to cycle past the hospital where I had been fighting for my life. At a meeting of heart attack survivors and their partners, we were invited to revisit the wards where our lives had been saved. A couple of wives told me they had difficulty getting in the lift to go up to the Intensive Care Unit – their memories of that time were so painful.

Another problem is that all my recipes are geared for six – for Josh and me and our four children. And of course, when they were younger and lived at home, the two boys could eat for four. I got used to us clearing up after a two or three course dinner only to hear a plaintive –‘Can I have a Sarnie, Mum?’ from one or both of the boys.

Read more of Abby’s stories in her memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ and her previous posts Abby’s Tales of Then and Now. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site and get a taster for free. ‘Woman in a White Coat’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £9.99 in paperback. ‘Abby’s Tales of Then and Now’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the 7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour.

Woman in a White Coat

CLICK AND COLLECT WITH A SMILE

Click and Colletc at ASDA

Isn’t it great how a helpful, smiling, shop assistant cheers you up for the day? Even when it’s a cold, grey, miserable day, with the rain pelting down.

There are road works outside the exit to our car park and, though we can drive out, there is no easy passageway for vans or lorries. I’d nearly got through the stash of my favourite Allison’s Very Strong White Bread Flour and the Tesco we patronise no longer stocks it. I prefer the taste and my bread seems to rise more with that flour. Nor was it listed for Tesco online, so we made up an order for Amazon Fresh (Morrisons) to be delivered. Minutes before the delivery was due, a text message ‘Delivery cancelled. Failure of Access’ appeared. The driver could have parked around the corner and walked his trolley to our entrance, but he didn’t. Just took it all back to base.

Online, I found that ASDA stock my preferred flour and I made up a ‘Click and Collect’ order. The Grocery Collection, ‘Click and Collect’, point was clearly marked and had covered parking – a great advantage on a very rainy day. When we arrived, there were instructions to click on ‘I’m here’ on the confirmation email we had received. I’d only registered at ASDA that week and couldn’t for the life of me remember which password I had used. I failed to log on several times, but fortunately, the assistant was just bringing out another customer’s shopping and identified us by name.

She soon brought out our shopping in small crates and we started to load it into the boot of our car only to find that one packet of flour was the wrong one – Strong Bread Flour instead of Very Strong Flour (my preferred Canadian flour). The packets are almost identical except for the title.

‘No problem’, the assistant said, with a smile. ‘I’ll change it for you.’

It wouldn’t have been too annoying if she had been unable to find the right one, as I’d ordered several packets, but she was soon back with the correct one and yet another smile.

We’re all too used to grumpy assistants, especially on such a miserable rainy day, but she was a ray of sunshine. I’m sorry I didn’t ask her name but, by the time we’d finished loading our groceries, she had gone back inside. Maybe I’ll send this piece to ASDA – except I wouldn’t want to get in trouble whoever put the wrong flour in our shopping in the first place.

Read more of my stories in my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ and my previous posts Abby’s Tales of Then and Now. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site and get a taster for free. ‘Woman in a White Coat’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £9.99 in paperback. ‘Abby’s Tales of Then and Now’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the  7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour.

Woman in a White Coat

 

 

BEIGELS AND CREAM CHEESE

Beigels on Lekue moulds waiting to rise

My widowed grandmother, together with my mother then aged 11, emigrated from Mogilev in Belarus to the UK in the late 19th century. With a grant from the Jewish Board of Guardians, she purchased a willow basket and found a pitch selling bagels on the corner of Wentworth and Goulston Street. She was there, rain and shine, until my parents got married in 1918 and they all moved from Petticoat Lane to Old Kent Road.

It’s quite appropriate then, that our elder daughter and grand-daughter should have become proficient bread makers during Lockdown. They can roll out lovely even rolls of dough, but mine end up lumpy, especially if my thumb joints are sore after playing a series of octaves on the piano.

When I make beigels therefore, I use my two sets of six Lekue beigel moulds. You roll the dough into a ball and push it down over the central spike. After letting them rise, you can leave the dough on their moulds and dunk them in malted boiling water. They float off ready to be glazed and baked.

One thing I’ve never ever tried is the combination of smoked salmon and cream cheese on beigels. As a child, growing up in a cold-water tenement in Petticoat Lane in the East End of London, it would have seemed profligate to have smoked salmon and cream cheese together. We only ever bought a few slices of expensive smoked salmon when people like the aged couple, Marie and Yankel, we called Aunt and Uncle out of respect – though they were no relation – came to tea.

We would certainly never have dreamt of mixing it with our homemade cream cheese. Milk and butter were kept in a cupboard on our tiny balcony and covered with a wet muslin cloth, its ends dipped in water. But there was always soured milk around. Much of the time there would be a cheese cloth hanging from the kitchen tap full of soured milk turning into cream cheese.

Since Lockdown, I not only make all our bread but have recently started to make cream cheese again. I splashed out on a temperature-controlled Lakeland yogurt maker but only used it once to make yogurt – the supermarket Greek yogurt tastes fine and costs only pennies more than a litre of full cream milk. However, I do use it to make what is, after a couple of experiments, delicious cream cheese. I clot the milk with lemon juice and add a pinch of salt and sometimes a few drops of wine vinegar at the end if it’s not sour enough. The best thing about the Lakeland yogurt maker is that is comes with a fine mesh cylindrical sieve for draining off the curds from the whey. No more washing slimy cheese cloths!

Read more of Abby’s stories in her memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ and her previous posts Abby’s Tales of Then and Now. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site and get a taster for free.

Woman in a White Coat

AIN’T IT GREAT??


Edmonton IKEA in the Sunshine

So good to have even this still limited amount of freedom! Being able to go shopping and finally visit IKEA again.

IKEA was fairly orderly, though very busy. Having been married now for 65 years, we never need any more furniture or linen, so we skip the first floor and concentrate on the marketplace on the ground floor. You used to be able to walk through from the entrance, but now you have to take the lift upstairs and another one down again.

With my breathlessness on exertion, I found the long walk around the ground floor a bit much, but I had one of their metal trolleys to lean on and managed to stagger through to the end. We always find some odds and ends we don’t really need but must have!!

My angiogram a fortnight ago wasn’t the nightmare I was expecting. In fact, I found it fascinating. The sedation I was given probably calmed me, but I was wide awake and lay there watching the dye spurting through my coronary vessels on a ginormous screen to my left. The worst thing was having to self-isolate for two weeks beforehand, when lockdown had already started to be reduced. It meant having food delivered again instead of going in person to the supermarket. It’s not just being able to choose just the size and type of fruit and vegetables you like, but the display in a well-stocked supermarket gives me ideas. Not having eaten out for a year, I can do with some inspiration.

My day in hospital wasn’t all good, as there appears to be a problem with one of the arteries supplying blood to my heart. A toss-up what you can do for a little old lady who will be 90 in October (PG).

It would have been a long walk to the end of the entry queue but, without my asking, the IKEA attendant opened the barrier for us. So kind!!

Thanks to all the lovely people who have been reading and writing to me about my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’.

Woman in a White Coat

AUTHOR – MY FIFTH (AND FINAL) CAREER

Woman in a White Coat

I first qualified as a dentist in 1953,and then as a doctor in 1959. In 1963, in between having 4 children, Josh and I opened an educational toyshop in Wimbledon but, having had enough of being an entrepreneur, when the children were all at full time school and aged 43, I returned to medicine. Five years later I was a consultant pathologist and director of a Cancer Research laboratory at a major London teaching hospital.

Now I suppose I can add ‘author’ as a fifth career. A near fatal heart attack in 2016 made me hurry up and complete my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’, self-published on Amazon in 2017.

Of course, I’d written papers about our work on the diagnosis of cancer and had needed to submit applications for funding. I hated the anxious times waiting for a response, especially once I had staff dependant on me for their salaries and futures.

Having long since retired and rather under protest, I finally joined Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn. However, I felt that Social Media really wasn’t my thing and certainly not for someone in their eighties.

But then, the summer before last, I got the bug and started posting regularly on Facebook. I found great pleasure in the responses to my little stories. making ‘pen’ friends from the USA and Canada as well as from the UK. It’s lovely ‘talking’ on Messenger with someone in Montreal in the middle of the night, when I can’t sleep and it’s still daytime over there!!

Writing posts for Facebook is just right for me under lockdown, fitting in writing between doing other things. I am still trying to master Ancient Greek; I play the piano and attend virtual Art History classes at Further Education college. I bake all our own bread and cakes, and Josh and I cook dinner on alternate days. No takeaways, of course.

If I can bear to delay posting for a few days, I discuss my latest offerings with my Writing Circle on Zoom. We still meet every fortnight, but I miss seeing my friends in person. I expect they miss the homemade muffins and cafetiere coffee I always provided.

Last summer I published a collection of my Facebook posts ‘Abby’s Tales of Then and Now’ on Amazon. It was discovering that Kindle started to publish in colour that persuaded me. Now my children and friends can have another souvenir of me for ‘if and when’.

When you reach your 90th year, ‘if and when’ is never far from your thoughts!!

Luckily we went to the supermarket the day before it snowed in London

GREAT TO BE CHOOSING MY OWN BANANAS

 

Lovely to see full shelves

Now that we’ve been vaccinated against Covid and the rules for masking and social distancing are being more generally obeyed, we feel able to go shopping for ourselves, instead of having to have our groceries delivered. As a retired consultant pathologist, I have no problem with wearing a mask – it’s just like the old days!!

Last Friday, the Tesco store in Kensington was immaculate, the shelves stuffed full of goodies. It was lovely – going to the supermarket in person, being able to select bananas of just the right degree of ripeness and choose between Hovis’ own granary flour and Allison Country Grain flour, taking time to read the package details.

Yes of course I take a list, but at least I don’t have to keep checking that my shopping adds up to £40. Oftentimes, as an elderly couple with smaller appetites than in our youth, we’ve struggled to make our orders up to £40 and had to add things we don’t really need yet. Some supermarkets charge £4 –a whopping 10% – to orders under £40, while some, like Waitrose, won’t deliver orders under £40 at all.

I really missed being able to just wander around and get inspired by what is available and choose fruit and vegetables as they come into season.

But then I just love shopping. One of our regular weekend treats was wandering around shops, not necessarily buying anything – interspersed with visits to one of the great art galleries we have in London.

Zoom is super for browsing and online classes, but there’s nothing like seeing art in the flesh. Have to wait to redeem the tickets we’ve booked when finally, lockdown is relaxed.

Read more of Abby’s stories in her memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ and her previous posts Abby’s Tales of Then and Now. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site and get a taster for free.

Woman in a White Coat’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £9.99 in paperback. ‘Abby’s Tales of Then and Now’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the 7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour.

Woman in a White Coat

WOMAN IN A WHITE COAT – a memoir

‘Woman in a White Coat’ is the memoir of Dr Abby J Waterman, a poor Jewish girl who makes good. Born and brought up in London’s East End, she is now an 89-year old retired consultant pathologist who has been a Harley Street dentist, a doctor, an entrepreneur and finally director of a cancer research laboratory, as well as a wife and mother of four.

Can you imagine what it’s like to carry out an autopsy on a 4-year-old when you yourself have a young child at home? Or what it’s like to look into the eyes of a young mother nursing a babe in her arms, knowing she’ll be dead by the end of the year? Can you imagine what it’s like to be a pathologist who examines breast cancer cells under the microscope as her profession and then finds that she has breast cancer herself?

‘Woman in a White Coat’ is a poignant account of Abby’s journey from a cold-water tenement in Petticoat Lane, to being faced with life and death decisions in a London hospital. As a medical student, she brings babies into the world and helps to relieve the suffering of patients who are about to leave it.

Filled with insights and gentle humour, this book gives you a very real account of what it’s like to be a doctor at the sharp end. You’ll eavesdrop on the conversations from behind the scenes in hospitals, the stories of patients with strange “unexplained” injuries in embarrassing places, and the tears shed by the medical staff that patients never see. It will give you insights into what it is like, helping the sick to get better and the critically ill to die gracefully.

It also shows you that there can be a fulfilling life after retirement, even when it is threatened by near fatal disease.

Buy Woman in a White Coat on Kindle at £2.99, as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99 or get a free taster on Amazon using Look Inside.

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

Woman in a White Coat

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO STOCK UP ON??

My favourite bay in Tesco’s

We shouldn’t go crazy and be selfish but it’s only sensible to check that we have enough of the essentials for when the dreaded Coronavirus rears its ugly head again. There are spikes all over the world, though we have to hope that the race between a deadly pandemic and the vaccine is won in our favour.

I have to admit that I was worried enough to pay a silly price on eBay for a giant pack of toilet paper when toilet paper completely vanished from the shops. We still have some left now, when the supermarket shelves are full.

The commodity I missed most was bread flour. We hate stodgy supermarket highly processed bread and, except for an occasional artisan loaf, I bake all my own. As an aged and vulnerable couple, we were able to book supermarket delivery slots, but week after week there would be bread flour on their product list, but my grocery would arrive with a ‘flour out of stock’ notice. Same for yeast and baking powder. I was able to buy bread flour from a baker in 2.5kg packages but being a 5 foot nothing lady I found it quite a thing shlepping 10 kg of flour. So, I’ll make sure I have a reasonable amount of flour in stock. I am only just finishing the 500gm pack of Fermipan dried yeast I found online and have a spare ready for the next few months.

I was delighted to read in Martynoga’ s excellent book ‘The Virus’ that soap is as good or better at killing the virus than sanitisers because it dissolves their essential outer membrane. I bought a packet of antiseptic wipes as well as a little bottle of sanitizer but prefer to use the antiseptic wipes to wipe down surfaces I must touch.

Our older son got us some pretty masks, but the elastic pulls out my hearing aids – apparently a common problem. I bought some extenders, but the elastic still caught.  I ordered a mask that goes over the back of your head, rather than over your ears. Silly me!! I then realised that I could alter mine by cutting the elastic that fits over your ears in half and re-joining it so that it slips over your head. Easy/ peasy!!

When we come home from our short outings, I wash my masks in hot soapy water and as an extra precaution use them in turn and I don’t have to stock up on disposable masks.

Read more of Abby’s previous posts in her book Abby’s Tales of then and Now. It is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the 7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site to get a taster  for free.

 

 

 

 

 

Or read her memoir

Woman in a White Coat

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BREAKOUT AFTER LOCKDOWN

Lovely to see a full supermarket and more being unpacked.
Just before lockdown, the fruit and veg racks were virtually empty!!

Yes, we were fortunate in that, being aged and vulnerable, after a couple of weeks we were able to get supermarkets slots. It was all very well, but inevitably, although they appeared on their websites, some items would be unavailable on the day. Flour, yeast and baking powder were particularly hard to come by. I was able to buy 10kg of bread flour in 2.5kg packets from eBay at a moderate price but was reduced to paying £7.99 for a £1.50 bag of self raising flour. There were plenty of profiteers out there.

The bliss of being allowed out to shop in person!! We went to a large Tesco’s very early on the first Monday vulnerable people were allowed out. There were hardly any other shoppers and the store was immaculate. Couldn’t believe my eyes when I approached the Baking aisle. Such a variety of different flours! And being able to choose just the size and kind of fruit and vegetables we like.

OK – I’ve been to the Uffizi, glided down the waterways in Venice, seen a giant hippo on the lawn in Malawi, but that Tesco store was right up there with them!! Absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder.

Read more of Abby’s previous posts in her book Abby’s Tales of then and Now is£2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the 7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site to get a taster for free.

https://amzn.to/3hX6z2D