Day 254

Level 2 Chi Kung.

Dash to guitar, Katie to Kew Gardens with Arina’s family, for the orchid festival.

Thumb/hand/wrist agony last night – had to get up and take one of the strong painkillers leftover from my knee injury – so tried to do as little as possible with my left arm today. I even had to get Nick to cut my bread in the morning as I can’t seem to use the electric knife with my right hand. In the evening, Monique came to babysit so that Nick and I could have a wild night out – at IKEA! We were super organised and went with a comprehensive list but, in the end, the most exciting thing we bought was an impulse buy:  a set of rails and hooks to put up in the kitchen, allowing potted herbs, spice jars and commonly used utensils to be hung up, avoiding the need to rummage in crowded drawers. Very exciting.

Day 248

Level 2 Chi Kung.

Nick off on a long bike ride, so my turn on morning duty. Gingerbread pancakes, gave the kitchen a scrub, and made some very nice cauliflower soup. I have been on a quest for soups that are both healthy and yummy, so wanted to steer away from the obvious combinations of cauliflower with cream and/or cheese. In the end I went for this recipe, and it was just what the doctor ordered. The kind of soup that is so delicious you can’t stop eating it, and, at the same time feels like it’s mainlining vitamins straight into your veins.

Spiced Cauliflower Soup
1 head of cauliflower
1 large onion (or 2 medium)
2 or 3 medium sized old potatoes. peeled and quartered
about 1/2 a tsp of butter
1 teaspoon turmeric (heaped)
1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander (heaped)
½ teaspoon ground cumin (heaped)
2 litres chicken stock (hot)


Chop the onion roughly and break the cauliflower into florettes.

Melt the butter in a large heavy-based pan over a lowish heat and add the onion and cauliflower, allowing them to soften for a minute or two.

Add the turmeric, ground coriander and cumin and stir, cooking for a further minute or two.

Add the potatoes, pour in the hot stock and allow to simmer for 45 minutes.

Blitz with a stick blender or food processor.

You may have to add a bit more stock if it’s too thick. If you aren’t worried about calories, it is even better with a wee bit of parmesan grated over the top just before eating.

Day 237

Level 2 Chi Kung.

I have often wondered as to the origins of my strong empathy for, and fascination with, Jewish people. I’m not Jewish and I’m sorry to say that, although I had a couple of Jewish colleagues in the NHS and later in the Civil Service, I haven’t ever had a Jewish friend (other than on FB that is). I think I am atypical of my generation of New Zealanders, who mostly seem to harbour a vague disapproval of Jews and Jewishness, currently justified by a dislike of Israeli foreign policy but which I suspect began as a kind of illogical hangover of their dislike of the US. Listening to the wonderful Judith Kerr (author of The Tiger Who Came to Tea, the Mog books and When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit) being interviewed on Radio 4, I finally began to understand. Such positivity, such resilience – Kerr, and the many other Jewish people I’ve read about and heard speak, embody all the qualities I most admire and aspire to.

And now for something completely different…

Having briefly felt bad about it, men, being men, quickly moved on to spinning their inability to multi-task from a disability into a strategic advantage (‘It’s not a bug – it’s a feature. Honest’). Very annoying. Likewise, the assumption that, now that boys tend to do less well in exams than girls, it must be because the exams are somehow biased against them and that this must be remedied. Whereas when girls did less well, it was considered the natural order of things, requiring no further investigation, let alone action.

I was thinking about the multi-tasking issue this afternoon, while simultaneously staggering around the kitchen, yelling at the dog, and whimpering in pain. When Katie and I got home from school, I suggested that she get on with her cello practice while I cooked dinner. She fetched her cello and sat down at the bottom of the stairs and started practicing. I closed the kitchen door, to prevent Sherlock from accessing the laundry baskets in the entrance hall. Now, normally Katie practices quite happily by herself for 20 minutes or so, and then calls me in and does a short performance for me. For some reason today, she seemed to want a bit more attention, so, while I prepared roast chicken with roast potatoes and kumara, carrots and broccoli, boiled new potatoes ready for tomorrow’s tortilla, and did laundry, she called through the closed door every few minutes, something along the lines of ‘Hey Mummy, what did you think of that glissando’. Although I was conscious of edging towards overwhelm, all went well until I was bending down to de-fluff the bottom trap of the tumble dryer. At which point Sherlock tried to stick his tongue in my mouth, and I, jerking away in shock and horror, cracked my skull on the bloody worktop. So, I readily admit that my tendency to do five things at once occasionally results in missing ingredients, concussion or the verbal abuse of inappropriately-affectionate companion animals. However the alternative would be for my family to choose between eating and wearing clean clothes. Before dismissing multi-tasking as fundamentally inefficient, as is now popular, consider the example of my beloved husband, a mono-tasker if ever I met one. Early in our relationship, I suggested that he took a turn at cooking. He agreed, and, four hours later, I was presented with a small mound of (really delicious) lasagne, all alone on a large and otherwise empty dinner plate. There was no salad or vegetable, because that would have required him to do two things at once. Unfortunately for me, we had a deal where, whichever person cooked, the other person cleaned up. Of course when I cooked, Nick generally had to wash two plates, two knives, two forks and maybe a serving spoon. Whereas I was faced with a kitchen that looked as if it had been painted with ragout, in which every piece of cooking equipment I owned was dirty (still haven’t worked out what he used the lemon squeezer for). Because clearing up as he went along would have involved, you guessed it, doing two things at once!

Reader I married him. And, 27 years later, I am delighted to report that he can now successfully cook a meal with more than one part – and stack the dishwasher at the same time!