After my total knee replacement, it was really important for me to have friends around. I enjoyed my lunch dates and then later on, when I was feeling less tired, having people round for dinner. I didn’t want to feel isolated; I wanted to chat, to hear news, to gossip and what better way to do it than at a table, eating and drinking. The food didn’t have to be complicated but cooking a meal made me feel as if I had achieved something each day during my convalescence.
My husband cooked these salmon fillets in the microwave and then just arranged them on a platter with watercress and tomatoes and served them with new potatoes and potatoes for a simple dinner.
If I was cooking, I found that it worked best, if I had planned everything out beforehand and was supremely organised.
- getting all the ingredients out the fridge and cupboards at once to avoid too much walking round the kitchen
- pottering around any time to do the above, eg waiting for the kettle to boil or a cup of tea to be ready
- dividing the tasks in putting together a dish of food into stages
- doing some preparation earlier on in the day when I wasn’t tired
- cutting up everything and then having a rest before finishing off the dish
- buying some food ready cooked and serving it alongside something I had made
- getting other people to lay the table, sort out drinks and afterwards clear away while I had a sit down
For example, this was a carrot and baked orange salad on rocket with a pistachio dressing from Honey and Co’s new book, ‘At Home‘ which I served alongside some cooked ham. I made the pistachio dressing early on, and cut up the oranges and carrots. Later on, I roasted the carrots and oranges and assembled it altogether.
The best time was when my friend A brought the lunch with her in the middle of her working day, a frittata filled with herbs from her freezer and a quinoa, cucumber and pomegranate salad. She unpacked it all from a bright pink plastic basket, complete with plates and cutlery, followed by a bowl of cherries. And then cleared it all away and put all the leftoversin the fridge for me to eat another day which was even better.
This was a roasted aubergine salad when I could cut up and cook the aubergines early on in the day and deseed the pomegranate before making assembling the dish and adding a yoghurt dressing later on. It’s my adaptation of this recipe.
Making this gooseberry and lemon thyme cake was another project that I split up over two days. I weighed all the ingredients out late one evening, topped and tailed the gooseberries for the cake and lined a cake tin. Then the next morning, I mixed together the ingredients for the cake and baked it. In the evening when friends were coming round for supper, I poached the rest of the gooseberries, decorated the cake and served it up with cream.