Life, photos but not the universe

Dinner time

In the past three days, I’ve indulged in a cooking orgy.

I’ve boiled and pressed an oxtongue, I’ve made steak and kidney pudding and jam tarts.  I’ve made moussaka  (properly with the custardy mixture and aubergines, lovingly sliced, salted and drained.  No potatoes or cheese).  I must be hungry.   Also I must be feeling an urge to go back to some kind of culinary roots but not the vegetable kind. I think tomorrow I might make lemon cake.

These are the things my Mother knew how to make.  But she was like me in the kitchen.  Passing on knowledge would have been fine but not if it meant having someone around watching and asking questions and doing things wrong.  I think I was allowed to learn gravy making just because it was useful to have a small person adding the juices and stirring while other more interesting things happened elsewhere in the kitchen.  I’m afraid my children suffered the same exclusion though Barney would happily have had all three of them around him, stirring, measuring and arguing.  Never mind, his mother was the perfect cookery teacher, allowing small people on stools to make cakes and pastry and all kinds of delectable stuff.  The children were lucky that their Grandma was a brilliant pastry cook and did a mean cup cake. I think her great grandchildren will also be lucky : )

Anyway, much of this nostalgic cooking came to an abrupt halt tonight. not with a bang but with the smell of burning.  Concerned by this unappetising aroma, I went to the kitchen and, somewhat owlishly, observed a couple of globules of shiny, silvery something, poised on the pressure cooker lid.  My hand was already turning off the heat and moving the pot but my mind was thinking “that looks like mercury but it probably isn’t  actually it’s probably aluminium since that’s what the pressure cooker is made of or is it stainless steel Oh My God the pressure cooker is melting…!!!!!“.

The diagnosis is catastrophic pressure cooker failure.  Probably the rubber band.  Amazingly the steak and kidney pudding is intact inside the melted plastic bowl, inside the overheated pressure cooker*.  It’s just a question of  cutting open the plastic bowl and extracting the pudding before they become, inextricably, one.  (Already, the plastic has melded itself onto the PC trivet.)  The  kitchen scissors and the stanley knife prove effective and I think we will have dinner tonight.  (Though it won’t be a neat little upside-down mound, more a heap of mingled steak, kidney and pastry with, amazingly, quite a lot of gravy.  A tribute to the strength of my suet crust I think but perhaps not to its lightness)

While I was manhandling the pudding, the knife and the bowl, Barney rang from the pub to say, how’s it going?

Well there wasn’t an explosion I said but I think we have to accept that the pressure cooker has failed.  Probably two or three pints of beer were sufficient cushioning against the threat of disaster because he said Oh well it’s good there wasn’t an explosion. (I could almost hear the bated breath of his companions in the background)

Yes.  I think we can have dinner tonight.  I don’t think there are any bits of melted pressure cooker in the pudding. But we’d better be careful.  There was an occasion when Barney’s Mum somehow manged to break the  casserole in which the dinner had been cooked and being shortsighted, served up a very nice casserole with fragments of shattered pyrex in it. And I also remember a dinner that Mum left in the Aga which suddenly got very hot**.  When we returned, the kitchen was full of black smoke and the dinner was a long way beyond help with a stanley knife and a pair of kitchen scissors.

Happy memories : )

*I could see it through the holes in the plastic.

**I didn’t know Agas could do that.  I thought what they usually did was go out and get very cold.

January 18, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Good grief, was it really melting?! And all this chemistry in the kitchen, can you turn lead in gold? 🙂 xx

    LOL. No Linda. I believe one of the ingredients alchemists used for that process was highly condensed urine and I’m not condensing urine in my kitchen!

    Comment by Linda | January 18, 2011 | Reply

  2. You have a politically correct trivet. You have a politically correct trivet. You have a politically correct trivet. I have to write this three times to allow the full implications of what is required of a British housewife these days to sink in. (*dares not ask about rolling pin*)

    Pressed ox tongue *

    Steak and kidney pud***


    Jam tarts*****

    Lemon cake*****

    No, sorry Christopher, I haven’t. the bin men came ten minutes ago and carted it away along with the rest of the…pressure cooker.
    I should have guessed you have a preferences for sweetness after your sachertorte frenzy the other day.
    (The rolling pin is always correct. It’s marble and therefore heavy enough to make a point (or a flat) with minimum effort from its wielder

    Comment by Christopher | January 18, 2011 | Reply

  3. yesterday I was looking thru a recipe book and found something I haven’t made for a very long time – a little fiddly, but well worth the effort – Delia’s Coconut and Lime Cake (delicious with her Coconut Icecream and Lime Syrup) from her Summer Cooking book of well over a decade ago now

    (just thought of that cos you mentioned Lemon Cake)(which is also very yummy!)

    my mother used to let me stir the gravy and the custard – which she made the French way with only egg yolks, sugar and warmed milk. . . that’s one recipe I really wish she’d passed on

    must have seen her make it at least two or three times a week for about twenty odd years, but have no idea of the measurements!

    ahhhhhhhh. . . so many cooking tales come to mind, but I think I’ll just go and have a cip of coffee and dream of a slice of lemon cake




    My Mum used to make a wonderful thing called saucer pancakes Inukshuk, a sort of pancake mixture baked in saucers with lemon and sugar included. I’ve never been able to make it or to find a recipe for it. But I have made several disastrous soggy attempts!
    Oh well, I’ll join you with the coffee (no lemon cake – the pc disaster made me think maybe I’d overdone the cooking nostalgia a bit)

    Comment by english inukshuk | January 18, 2011 | Reply

  4. You melted a pressure cooker.

    *shaking head*

    I feel better about burning the spaghetti and catching the kitchen on fire now…..

    JUST sayin’!

    It was a very old pressure cooker Mel. Does that make it any better?

    Comment by Mel | January 20, 2011 | Reply

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