Saturday, 24 May 2014

Cooking Comfort Food

Yesterday I was back at Papworth to get the results of the CT scan and other tests in preparation to be put on the bilateral lung list as well as the heart/lung list.

Overall the results were good. My 'unusual' plumbing can be dealt with during surgery, as most of it is in the area that they remove, so I am OK from that aspect. The antibodies are a bit more complex. There are some that can be ignored and some that could cause problems, so although the donor pool has now widened, it is not quite as wide as they were hoping. Still, an increased chance, is an increased chance, and I'm just glad that they didn't turn around and say nothing could change.

We discussed the events of last week and they took some blood to check for any infection, though both they and Brompton say that if I was going to get an infection I'd have signs by now such as a high temperature and feeling unwell. Neither of these things have happened and, in fact, I'm beginning to feel well again now that things are settling down.

Also up for discussion was the false alarm. They explained once again that the donor had aspirated stomach acid into the lungs which made them unsuitable for transplant. I found it distressing to hear that the donor was such a perfect match that, on that occasion, no adjustment for antibodies had to be made. Bugger! I was told to take consolation from the fact hat I now had a better chance and they would be actively looking for me.

This morning I was awake just after four and lay listening to the birds coming to life while mulling over what might have been. If all had gone to plan I could have been sitting up eating, talking. I might even have had my first session on the exercise bike. It was not my time however, and I have been tested just that little bit more. Will my breaking point ever be found I wonder?

When I'm upset or just need time out from thinking I turn to cooking. Some would think I'd turn to my art or photography but they are activities where some degree of thinking is required. Cooking I find more instinctive and I appear to have the ability to cook a dish following the recipe once or twice and then remember it and adapt it to my own tastes etc.It is an activity that, for me, requires little thinking, keeps me busy and has a more productive outcome than just sitting around worrying. The more complex the dish the more creative I can be with it and the more time it takes out of my day.

So here is my Spicy/Sweet Lamb Tagine, cooked on Thursday. If you do not have a tagine a heavy bottomed casserole pot, with lid, is ideal. This recipe serves 4 - 6 and is good for freezing. The dish can be eaten hot or cold with rice, cous cous or flat bread. Enjoy.

You will need...
3 (45 ml) tablespoons of avocado or olive oil
1 large onion roughly chopped
1 (15 ml) tablespoon of garam masala
1 1/2 Ibs (750 g) lamb cut into cubes
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 can (14 oz/400 ml) chopped tomatoes with juice

Stir together the meat, onions, garlic and spice
2 medium carrots cut into coins
1 medium courgette/zucchini diced
Approx 8 - 10 dried apricots sliced
! small can chickpeas (optional) drained
1 tablespoon (15 ml) liquid honey

In the bottom of the tagine or casserole heat the oil over a medium heat. add the onion and cook, stirring, for 5 mins. Add the garam masala and the lamb and garlic and stir well until the meat is coated with the onions and spices. Cook for 6 - 7 minutes until lamb is browned on all sides.

Add tomatoes, carrots, courgettes and apricots
Add the tomatoes with juice, carrots, courgette and apricots and bring to the boil stirring frequently to stop meat catching on the bottom of the pot. Cover with lid, reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 1 hour stirring every 15 - 20 minutes.

Stir in the chickpeas, if using, and honey. Tip for the honey. Rub a little oil over the spoon before dipping in the honey pot. It will stop honey sticking to the spoon without flavouring it. Replace lid and cook for a further 15 minutes.

If freezing this dish do so separately from any rice or cous cous. Both will suck up the liquid and become soggy while making the dish itself dry.

Ready to serve
Today I'm going for simplicity and a quick pasta simply because I'm totally shattered. I am really hoping that I can just veg out without any more drama for the next few days. I wish the weather was as it was last weekend but it is not, it is piddling down so I'm stuck on the settee, again! Oh well, I guess that is just the rich pattern of life when you have any sort of illness, not just PH. More tomorrow.