I know a great number of people, many from the Donheads, have visited the Olympic venues and events around the country, or like me, sat in front of the telly these past weeks in disbelief, wonder and some green envy of the achievements and dramas being enacted in front of us all. I have been bursting with pride at our Olympians and Paralympians – and stunned what people can do irrespective of disability and in spite of discrimination. I don’t think I am alone in having become blind to our collective human potential.
So, I feel ashamed to tell you of my frustration of having to type this with one hand and that this time last week I sat in my kitchen for most of the day feeling disgracefully sorry for myself, having tripped over my laptop case and broken my wrist on landing hard on a cold stone floor. I have had a week to adapt my daily living – challenges like buttering a piece of toast, cutting up my dinner and getting dressed is complex, and without wanting to plug for a little more sympathy, painful. Driving of course is out as is tying shoelaces and emptying the kitchen bin! Anyone who uses a computer will probably laugh when I say I can’t perform CTRL; ALT; DELETE without using my nose! But life goes on – work too and, although my team bought me a beautiful Ted Baker scarf to ensure I wore a fashionable sling, it’s really brought home how fortunate most of us are.
I still have my wrist and it will return to a fully functioning limb joining my three others – yet still, I couldn’t have achieved anything like the paralympians. The games had a mission and that was to inspire a generation and to send a clear message about achievements of all. It’s boring for others hearing about my woes so I am just getting on with it without moaning.
Cooking isn’t only for the physically able either. One of my favourite and acclaimed chefs is Michael Caines. AA Chef's Chef of the Year in 2007, and awarded an MBE in 2006 for services to the hospitality industry, he gained his passion for food from his mother who he used to enjoy helping in the kitchen, where he learnt the importance of regionality – something I continue to plug here through Truly Scrumptious. Michael was appointed Head Chef at Gidleigh Park outside Exeter representing a massive challenge and opportunity for a young and ambitious chef. Yet, only two months into the job, Michael suffered a terrible car accident in which he lost his right arm. Remarkably, he was back in the kitchen part-time within two weeks, and full-time after just four. What an inspiration to the rest of us. He adapted. And that’s what I have done with this month’s recipe – adapted it for the one-handed, although the same method will produce a fantastic result however many hands contribute to its making. Best thing for me is it can be eaten with only a fork!
I know I say all my recipes are Truly Scrumptious, but “thank you” to the couple in Buttlings this morning – they tell me I have chosen a cracker of a dish for you this autumn.
Beef rendang (Indonesian spiced coconut beef curry)
Serves 4–5 Approx. £14.50 when all ingredients bought in Ludwell
3 large shallots
2 cloves garlic – peeled
2 cm piece of root ginger – peeled and roughly chopped or use 2 tsp of ‘lazy ginger’ in jars
2–3 long red chillies – deseeded
1 tsp galangal (if available, if not add more ginger)
1/2 stalk of lemongrass
1 tsp turmeric
2 x 400 ml cans of coconut milk
800 gm stewing beef (the team at Buttlings will cut this up for you)
1 Kaffir lime leaf
Thai rice and a salsa to serve.
1. Place the peeled shallots, garlic, ginger, chillies, galangal (if using), lemongrass,turmeric and 1 tsp of salt in a blender or food processor and add approx 50 ml of the coconut milk.
2. Blitz to a smooth paste.
3. Place blitzed paste into a large saucepan or wok.
4. Add the beef, the Kaffir lime leaf and the remaining coconut milk, adding water if the liquid doesn’t quite cover the meat.
5. Stir well and bring to a simmer.
6. Leave to gently bubble away for 2–2½ hours, stirring occasionally. By now the coconut milk will have reduced and the curry will be quite thick.
7. If you are making this ahead of time, stop at this stage and finish off later or freeze now. It’s great once frozen – actually improves in flavour.
8. If the curry isn’t already in a wok, transfer to one and continue to cook for a further 20–30 minutes or so stirring occasionally until the oil from the coconut milk starts to come to the surface.
9. Serve the beef rendang hot with plenty of Thai rice and a salsa.
To make your own salsa, choose from any of the combinations below, chop all finely and toss with olive oil, lemon or lime juice or Tabasco to taste.
Avocado lime salsa – avocado, red onion, lime juice, spring onions, olive oil
Spicy mango salsa – mango, red onion, fresh green chilli, coriander leaves and lime juice, olive oil
Tomato and coriander – firm sweet tomatoes; red onion; fresh lemon juice, garlic, Tabasco, coriander leaves, olive oil
Pineapple and green bean salsa – blanched beans (French or shredded runner), fresh pineapple; spring onions, chopped parsley, olive oil and lime juice – lots of salt and black pepper.
A truly, truly scrumptious dish this autumn
These musings and recipes are gleaned from The Donhead Digest with the permission of AIF, their author.