Jeanne Ellin: Notes from an Older Woman, Week 14

Jeanne Ellin: Age Shall Not Wither Her

jeanne ellinJeanne Ellin is a 68 year old poet living on the basic pension, in sheltered accommodation, with Little Cat Friday and a menagerie of chronic health conditions for companions. Her ambition is to live a happy, satisfying, creative life. Join her for her journey through 2016.

“What is it like to be old?”

I told them it was a real adventure. Scary, uncomfortable, uncertain, with real Dragons and real Treasure.

8 April 2016: Soup Brewing and Gluten Free Baking

Soup brewing is an acquired skill.

jeanne's soupI used to make only one sort of soup. Cream of leftovers, a grey mass of variable texture and if kitchen gods were kind, some memory of flavour.

I have fruit and vegetables delivered weekly and as part of that, recipes come free. So I am learning new skills. I would never have put the combinations together that they suggest. Beetroot and garam masala. Broccoli and coconut. And, memorably, Brussel sprouts and apple among the nicest. Best forgotten is the sweet potato and chilli.

Adding rosemary leaves to tomato gives a deep beefy flavour. With my breakfast smoothie, veg and fruit plus nuts I am eating really healthily. Easy eats are essential for less functional days. With the demands of the menagerie, ready meals are no longer an option, so frozen homemade soups are a good fall back.

I am widening my horizons to embrace fruit and vegetables formerly strangers to me. Avocado, which I used to sneer at as crocodile wrapped cold custard, is now a welcome element in smoothies. Kohlrabi and celeriac, those ugly cousins of the familiar turnip, are finding their place in my cooking. I do like adding a little variety and challenge to my life.

Another bonus – the boys love my soups! They are adventurous eaters, tackling anything. No cakes, biscuits or convenience foods; not from virtue, I just can’t stomach them anymore.

Gluten free baking is a different mixing bowl.

Developing soup-making techniques helps to console me for the loss of all my bread, cake and pastry making skills developed over years, which are now redundant for a coeliac. Gluten free mixes handle differently as well as feeling different on the tongue. I am gaining confidence to add to the basic recipes and feel as if I am really baking again.

Need to make some little buns soon. The last time I visited my grandsons I was presented with the empty baking tin, left from the previous baking delivery. When opened, mouldy crumbs fell out! I
can take a hint! The boys have only a small vocabulary yet but they make their meaning very plain. Quiet boy kept making a gesture I did not recognise. His mother said it was the sign for cake. Guilty grandmother must do better. The boys have been learning signing for several months now and use signs and words as they acquire them.

grandson's handI make smallhand-sized buns. Three is the preferred serving, one for each hand and one in the mouth. I take care to say ‘Ask Mummy’ before I give them any. A good habit to set as they have one or two food sensitivities. Hopefully they will outgrow them …

I have had to adjust to a new style of cooking over the last few months following consultations with a specialist dietitian and a slow trial by exclusion of various foods. This led to many symptoms reducing which is a gain to balance the loss of many previously go-to foods. Good point less pain, bad aspect more social difficulties. The simplest to solve, I have trained myself to enjoy coffee black so I can share a social coffee easily, anywhere without fussing about needing special milk.

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